Category Archives: The LowDOWn Newsletter

The Bhopal LowDOWn is our monthly newsletter. It includes media coverage, past events, ongoing events, and upcoming events.

The LowDOWn is your way to stay connected to the campaign! If you have something to submit, please contact us by the end of the month.

The LowDOWn – September 2010


1.  Conference

Register now for the 6th Annual North American Conference on Bhopal!  This year’s conference will be held at MIT in Cambridge, Boston, September 25-26.   Great things are in store for this year’s gathering, including presentations from leading Bhopal activists like Gary Cohen (Environmental Health Fund, Health Care Without Harm), Raj Sharma (New York-based lawyer representing the Bhopalis), and members of ICJB’s Advisory Board.  The conference is an opportunity for supporters to meet one another, and deepen their understanding of the Bhopal issue.  Registration closes September 17. 



2.  Day of Action: Crows take flight to Prime Minister Singh


Seattle activists make crows

झूठ बोले कौवा कटे        

If you tell a lie, the crow will bite. 

On August 24, activists in Seattle, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Canada sent origami crows to Indian consulates and the Embassy in D.C.  Back in May of 2008, the Prime Minister’s Office agreed to establish an Empowered Commission on Bhopal to engage survivors in economic, medical and environmental rehabilitation.  No such commission was ever established, so activists sent origami crows and letters reminding Prime Minister Singh to stay true to his word.

For 23 days, Bhopal activists braved the monsoon season to demand compensation, medical care, legal action, and site remediation.  As a result of their dedication and persistence, the sit-in protest created notable progress.  64 members of Parliament representing 20 different political parties signed a letter urging the PM to address long term rehabilitation and legal accountability before December 2010.  Also, the Madhya Pradesh state government begun free installation of water connections to individual households in contaminated areas around abandoned Union Carbide factory.  For photographs, press releases, and captivating blog writing by dharna participates, click here.

4. U.S. pressures India to drop Bhopal case

On August 18, Mumbai-based TimesNow leaked email communication between White House Deputy National Security Advisor Michael Froman, and Indian Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia. In response to an Ahluwalia’s email requesting assistance as India faces a sharp restriction in the World Bank’s lending, Froman replied:

 “We are aware of this issue and we will look into it.  We are hearing a lot of noise about the Dow Chemical issue. I trust that you are monitoring it carefully. I am not familiar with all the details, but I think we want to avoid developments which put a chilling effect on our investment relationship.

The threatening tone of Froman’s email elicited worldwide press coverage and mounting criticism of the Obama administrations double standards of corporate accountability.  Watch the TimeNow debate on the email’s implications here.

5. Indian Supreme Court: case reopenedActivists after June verdict. Photo: Christian Science Monitor

When the Supreme Court sentenced 7 top executives responsible for the 1984 catastrophe with a mere 2 years in jail and a bail of $2,000 USD last June, there was a public outcry in India and abroad.  On August 31, the Supreme Court accepted a government petition demanding harsher convictions, and investigation of Dow Chemical’s liability. 

6. In Pune, Dow Research and Development Center proposal rejected

For the past few years, Dow Chemical has been pushing to build a 400-cror research and development center outside of Pune (Maharastra).  Locals rallied against the project, until it became unfeasible to build the center.  Dow Chemical’s name is tarnished with corporate irresponsibility, especially its unresolved liability in Bhopal.  This latest victory demonstrates that people can and will stand up to corporations with unethical practices.





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The LowDOWn – June 2010

The Bhopal LowDOWn – for June 26, 2010


The world’s worst industrial disaster has been reduced to the equivalent of a road accident. On June 7, seven persons, who knowingly approved cost-cutting measures compromising the safety and disaster mitigation in the plant, who knowingly approved an inferior technology that resulted in this disaster, have been let off on bail. Meanwhile, the real perpetrators (Warren Anderson & Union Carbide) are getting away scot-free.

People around the world are angry. Angry at the Indian Government for betraying its people; angry that the world’s largest democracy has succumbed to the power of a corporation. TAKE ACTION: Send a Fax to the Prime Minister.

Already sent a fax and want to do more? Find out other actions you can take here.

2. UPDATE ON INJUSTICES: From verdict to new gov’t plan

You have probably already heard about the June 7 verdict of Union Carbide India Limited and 7 company officials. You may have read about the verdict and the public uproar in the news. You may have also learned what the Bhopalis wanted the Prime Minister to do to bring real justice.

Here’s the most recent news of betrayal by Indian Government:
On Thursday, June 24, 2010, the Union Cabinet approved the proposal by the Group of Ministers on Bhopal. Here are the ways in which this plan betrays Bhopalis:

  • The government announced new compensation for victims, which will reach less than 10% of the victims. Seven billion Rupees (US$150mil) will be given out among 46,000 people, which leaves 525,000 victims with nothing.  
  • The government has approved a clean-up of the toxic waste to non-existent Indian standards by shoddy scientific organizations like NEERI. Bhopalis fear that a hasty clean-up will put another community, where the waste will be taken, in danger. 
  • The cabinet decided that Dow’s liability will be left to the court to decide. The Indian Government has allowed Dow to continue operating in India with no consequence.
  • While the proposal does include a new extradition request for Warren Anderson, Union Carbide will not be pursued by the Government, even though it too has been charged with culpable homicide.

Read a full summary of the cabinet’s plan here.


Over the last 3 weeks, Bhopal has been the top news story in India and has received media attention worldwide.
Here are some of the top recent stories:

NYTimes: In India, BP Response Feeds Outrage Over Bhopal
Wall Street Jounal: Indian Panel Revisits Bhopal Issues
NDTV: Bhopal survivors ignored by the state

Read more news coverage here.


People all over the world have responded with outrage in the last few weeks to the 26-year denial of justice in Bhopal.

No More Bhopals: An evening of Protest, Songs, Poetry in Delhi
On Saturday a demonstration was held in Jantar Mantar in New Delhi to protest against the recent shameful Court Verdict on the Bhopal Gas tragedy of 1984.
Mammoth protest against Bhopal verdict
On June 22, 2010, hundreds of activists of KRRS, DSS and other progressive organizations gathered at K.R. Circle in Mysore to protest the recent verdict on the Bhopal gas tragedy.

Actions began last week in New York City and Washington D.C. Activists in NYC attempted to deliver a summons to Union Carbide and Warren Anderson’s lawyers on the same day that activists protested in front of the Indian Embassy in D.C.

On Wednesday, June 9, 2010, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) released statements showing his outrage on the court’s sentence of two years for those responsible for the world’s worst chemical disaster.

Protest against injustice in Bhopal continued this week in New York City, Boston and San Francisco. Consulates were visited in New York City and San Francisco. Supporters at both consulates held colorful signs and chanted slogans. In Boston on Thursday a coalition of supporters met to peacefully yet firmly protest against the court decision and rally public support for the survivors of Bhopal tragedy.


Kirk Robinson is one of the newest interns to join the ICJB team. He has just finished his second year at UC Berkeley where he is pursuing a major in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations. Issues that extend across borders are a great interest of his which is why he is excited to work with Students for Bhopal! This summer he will be helping with the database cleanup, contacting donors, and working with the website and other social networking sites. He also enjoys biking, eating, and playing the trombone!

Samantha Balasubramanian is very passionate about human rights issues and excited to be interning with ICJB this summer. She graduated from UC Irvine in 2008 with a BA in International Studies. She has worked at a law firm specializing in bankruptcy law for the last year and a half. She is also involved with the Project Vietnam Foundation and will be traveling to Vietnam this summer on a medical mission to help set up medical/dental clinics in rural areas and rehabilitate orphanages.


Justice will be done in Bhopal only if the individuals and corporations responsible are punished in an exemplary manner. Union Carbide’s disaster was foreseeable and foreseen and still allowed to happen. The punishment of the corporations and their individual officials must be sufficient to deter other corporations and corporate officials from also acting with such reckless indifference to human life and health. -Rashida Bee, president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh.

We need your help to bring real justice to the people who have suffered and fought in Bhopal for over 25 years. Please donate to the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal and support our efforts to bring the accused to face trial.


Please donate to the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal

Contact: Shana Blustein Ortman
US Coordinator, International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal
49 Powell Street, Suite 500
San Francisco, CA 94102 – email

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The LowDOWn – May 2010

The Bhopal LowDOWn – for May 13, 2010

1. Bhopalis temporarily return home from Delhi – still need support

The Survivor Organization that make up ICJB just released a letter to supporters, explaining why they have decided to return home to Bhopal from Delhi. On April 15, 2010 they arrived in Delhi for an indefinite Dharna (sit-in). Their singular demand was that the central government fulfil the promise they made in 2008 to set up an Empowered Commission to deal with the ongoing disasters in Bhopal. Because of unprecedented challenges, the Bhopalis were forced to return home for 6-8 weeks. They plan to return to Delhi with an even stronger call for justice soon, and they need your support.

Read the full statement about why the Bhopalis had to chose to return home.

Take action! We need your support to make their continued Dharna in 6-8 weeks even stronger.

Providing food, shelter, and accomodations for the Bhopalis on Dharna is expensive. Please make a donation to ICJB to help cover the cost of these important events.

2. Dow Live Earth overrun by zombies, protests

On April 18th, Live Earth hosted a series of 6km runs in various locations all over the world for the sake of ‘helping to solve the water crisis.’ Unforunately, Live Earth allowed Dow Chemical Company to sponsor the events, turning what would be an important education event, into a green-washing opportunity for Dow. 

In solidarity with the people of Bhopal as well as other communities affected by Dow’s poisons, ICJB held counter protests at many of the events.

Bhopal Groups Subvert Dow-funded Live Earth Run for Water in Delhi

Hindustan Sea Turtle Alliance (HASTA), organizers of the Live Earth Run for Water in New Delhi, revealed on April 18 that they were a fictitious group set up to expose the global event as Dow Chemical’s attempt to sidestep its legal responsibilities by engaging in greenwash. The Dow Live Earth Run for water has received millions of dollars in sponsorship from Dow allegedly to increase awareness about issues of global water scarcity. See the video here.

Dow Live Earth Overrun by Zombies in NYC

Groups in Atlanta Call Dow Out at Live Earth

When the runners reached the finish line at the sparsely attended Atlanta’s Live Earth “Run for Water” sponsored by Dow Chemical on April 18th, a small row of people holding signs, banners, petitions, some faux-contaminated water, and flyers about Dow’s environmental violations around the world greeted them along with the race organizers and other vendors at Pemberton Place in downtown Atlanta.

Protesters in the Oakland, CA confront Live Earth

It is both absurd and appalling that a global mobilization effort for clean water was supported by Dow Chemical, one of the world’s worst polluters which still refuses to take full responsibility for the world’s greatest industrial disaster in Bhopal in 1984, writes Sudarshan Suresh in the Siliconer. Read the full Op-Ed here.

3. Dharna News Coverage

Although the Dharna that began on April 15 is currently suspended, the Bhopalis already had a few weeks to cause a stir in Delhi.

Check out the News Coverage of their actions

Bhopal gas victims file RTI plea on nuclear liability bill Thaindian News/IANS

Bhopal gas tragedy survivors file RTI with PMO Yahoo! News India/Press Times India

Bhopal survivors stage protest Gulf Times

4. Toxic Waste in Bhopal Faces Problematic Incineration

Union Carbide’s toxic waste to be incinerated

Sindh Today News – May 2, 2010
Bhopal, May 2 (IANS) The Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board (MPPCB) has given clearance to a private waste management company to dispose 346 tonnes of toxic waste of the now-defunct Union Carbide Corporation (UCC)’s pesticide plant, officials said…. Read the full article here.

5. Two Bhopal Books for Sale

The beautiful photo book by Micha Patault called “No More Bhopals” is available for $44US on the author’s website. Find out more here:

The book Surviving Bhopal by Suroopa Mukherjee is going to hit the market soon in both US and UK. This is Mukherjee’s follow up to the children’s book We for Bhopal. Find out how to order it here:


Please donate to the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal

Contact: Shana Blustein Ortman
US Coordinator, International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal
49 Powell Street, Suite 500
San Francisco, CA 94102 – email


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The LowDOWn – January 20, 2010

The Bhopal LowDOWn – for January 20, 2010

We’re trying a new format for the newsletter – let me know what you think.

Editor’s Note: We are all watching with a heavy heart as the disaster in Haiti unfolds. Bhopal activists know all too well that this environmental disaster, coupled with the human-made disasters of poverty and debt, will not be over for months or even years. Please do what you can in the days and years to come to help the people of Haiti. On, you can see a list of organizations involved in Haiti’s recovery.

1. Tell Anna University to Dump Dow!

Dow Chemical, the company responsible for the continuing medical and environmental disaster in Bhopal, is on a binge to purchase legitimacy. It has paid Rs. 5 lakhs (over $10,000) as sponsorship for College of Engineering at Anna Universiry in Chennai, Guindy’s Kurukshetra Techfest 2010. IIT Delhi and Kanpur have returned Dow’s money a day before the sponsored event. It is never too late to do the right thing! Find out how you can take action here. See our recent Press Release and a related news story from Jan 13 and from Jan 19.

2. Ringing in the New Year with a 2010 Bhopal Calendar

2009 was a monumental year for the Bhopal campaign. Read this full message to our supporters to learn more. Please ring in 2010 with ICJB, and help us build on the success of 2009 and remember the long history of this movement. Make a $15 (USD) donation and we will send you a beautiful 2010 Calendar: A Tribute to the 25 Year Struggle for Justice in Bhopal.
Click here to find out how to get a copy of this great calendar or donate $15 or more here now.

3. Threat of Bhopal-like Disaster grips W. Va Community

Ken Ward of the Charleston Gazette reported this week that Bayer CropScience has put the community around their Institute, WV plant at a high risk for a Bhopal-like disaster. According to the article, Bayer has “not properly maintained or tested the underground storage tank where it keeps roughly 200,000 pounds of methyl isocyanate, the deadly chemical that killed thousands of people in Bhopal, India, in 1984.”
Read the full article here.  And read ICJB’s statement on the issue here.

4. Chicago Tribune reports on Dow’s Legacy in Vietnam

Agent Orange’s lethal legacy: Defoliants more dangerous than they had to be

Papers show firms didn’t act on data to reduce toxicity
Chicago Tribune, By Jason Grotto and Tim Jones

As the U.S. military aggressively ratcheted up its spraying of Agent Orange over South Vietnam in 1965, the government and the chemical companies that produced the defoliant knew it posed health risks to soldiers and others who were exposed.
That year, a Dow Chemical Company memo called a contaminant in Agent Orange “one of the most toxic materials known causing not only skin lesions, but also liver damage.”
Read the full article here.

Please donate to the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal

Contact: Shana Blustein Ortman
US Coordinator, International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal
49 Powell Street, Suite 500
San Francisco, CA 94102 – email


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The LowDOWn – December 16, 2009

The Bhopal LowDOWn – for December 16, 2009

Newsletter Contents:

  1. 25th Anniversary of the Bhopal Disaster
  2. Bloomington, Indiana passes City Council Resolution
  3. Support activists’ peaceful padyatra in Chattisgarh
  4. Dow Under Scrutiny this week

25th Anniversary of the Bhopal Disaster

On December 3, 2009, the International Day of Action for the 25th Anniversary of the Bhopal Gas Disaster was a huge success. Bhopal survivors and their supporters around the world helped make the story of 25 years of courage and strength in the face of corporate crime the focus of international headlines. The Bhopalis calls for justice were truly heard around the world.

Some Highlights and links
The ICJB anniversary Press Release from Bhopal
The ICJB anniversary Press Release from the U.S.
Highlights of the major media attention
Some action reports (not all of them have been put online yet)

It was because of support from people like you that this massive mobilization was possible. Now, it’s up to all of us to make sure that this is not just a passing moment in history. We need to make sure that Dow and the Indian government live up to the Survivors’ demands. Donate to the International Campaign for Justice to help us continue this important work.


Bloomington, Indiana passes City Council Resolution

On December 2, 2009, Bloomington, Indiana City Council Members voted unanimously to pass a resolution supporting the Bhopal Survivors. The resolution, titled “Recognizing the Twenty-Fifth Anniverasary of the Bhopal Disaster and Calling for a Report on the Extremely Hazardous Substances Previously Released into the Local Environment,” was led by Council Member Stephen Volan. The resolution declared December 3 as Bhopal Day in Bloomington, and mandates that by Bhopal Day 2010, the city’s Environmental Commission “compile and present an inventory of those places where extremely hazardous substances have been released into and remain in the local environment.”
Read the press advisory
Download the PDF of the resolution


Support activists’ peaceful padyatra in Chattisgarh

Please sign the petition supporting justice in Chattisgarh, India from our allies at the Association for India’s Development.
Social activists from all over India are planning a padyatra (march on foot) through the conflict zone of Southern Chhattisgarh, in an effort to bring peace and normalcy to the Adivasis communities there. The administration is trying everything in its power to stop the padyatra from happening. Solidarity groups headed for Dantewada are being stopped and harassed.
On December 10th, Kopa Kunjum an activist with Vanvasi Chetna Ashram (VCA) was arrested along with his lawyer Alban Toppo from Human Rights Law Network without being presented the reasons for arrest. Both Kopa and Alban were severely beaten while in custody. Although Alban was later released, murder charges were later slapped on Kopa. [Click here to read Alban’s own account of his experience in police custody].
Over 500 people have signed the petition demanding justice for the survivors of violence, implementation of Supreme Court’s order for rehabilitation of the displaced people and the release of Kopa Kunjum.
Please read and sign the petition to the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh and send a free fax, if you agree with the contents. Signing the petition will send a free fax.


Dow Under Scrutiny this week

In the past week, two stories have surfaced putting scrutiny on Dow Chemical Company for the massive Dioxin Contamination near their hometown of Midland, Michigan. 
First, AFP reported on December 14 on the contamination in the Tittabawassee River, and Dow’s responsibility to clean it up:

“The Tittabawassee may be clean enough to freeze now, but it remains one of the most contaminated waterways in the United States and a key example of the nation’s struggle to deal with its industrial past.”
“…Yet little has been done to clean up the dioxins which spread for more than 80kmdownstream and downwind of the Midland plant. “This is a 30-year-old issue and no one has yet to have the political will to move that company,” said activist Michelle Hurd Riddick.
Read the Full article here

On December 15, the Michigan Messenger reported on a controversial and dubious report on the dangers of Dioxins that was funded by Dow Chemical Company:

“State officials say that a Dow Chemical-funded University of Michigan study on dioxin exposure in the Saginaw River watershed has spurred misperceptions about the contamination threat caused by Dow — and they say U-M’s lead researcher has not fully cooperated in efforts to address the problem.”
Read the full article about the controversy here


Please donate to the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal

Contact: Shana Blustein Ortman
US Coordinator, International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal
49 Powell Street, Suite 500
San Francisco, CA 94102 – email


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