Dec 3rd, 2003: the day Dow dared not answer the door

“The callousness, anger, irritation and most evident the fear – fear of four very ordinary people with a just cause – was evident in member Ringler’s action.” A Bhopal supporter from Milwaukee describes her brief encounter – on the night of Dec 3, 2003 – with Dow board member James M Ringler, who did at least open his darkened door a fraction. Willie ‘pants on fire’ Stavropoulos elected to hide. You can read the whole report of the James Ringler encounter here, along with other accounts of the Global Day of Action.

The Day of Action witnessed the largest, broadest and most penetrating display of international solidarity for the survivors of Bhopal in the nineteen years they have been fighting for rehabilitation and justice. The more than 65 events in 16 countries sent an unequivocal notice of intent to the Dow Chemical Company: people around the world cannot and will not stand by and allow justice to be buried in Bhopal.

Eleven of the fourteen members of Dow’s board received this message directly from Bhopal supporters across the US, who visited the executives at their work places and homes. If the actions brought inconvenience, unease and even fear to individual board members accustomed to concealing themselves behind Dow’s corporate veil, then they’d do well to reflect on a few things. They might consider, for example, what it’s like to be constantly afraid of what the toxic gas sitting inside your body is doing to you – whilst being blind as to how to stop it doing whatever it is that it’s doing; or they might think about how life is when you have to worry daily about how you’ll feed your family in the evening, given that you don’t possess the physical or mental health to earn money; or how it feels to be pouring poison into your child’s throat, knowing that there’s nothing else to drink. Those same directors might then realise why it is that the survivors of Bhopal will never stop fighting, and why they will continue to draw solidarity from thinking and feeling people everywhere.

‘Pants on Fire’ Stavropoulos, who wouldn’t come to the door even though the Midland chief of police was there to protect him

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