FROM AID, AUSTIN, BHOPAL INITIATIVE
April 13, 2006: Indefinite hunger strike Day 1 Photographs
Vinod: Today Diane started her indefinite hunger strike in solidarity with the Bhopalis fasting in New Delhi. She started her fast at the stroke of midnight in Seabrook, TX, and then drove over to Austin in the wee hours of the morning. Sandhya and myself were waiting for Diane, and we reached the West Mall area by 8:00am. Gauri, Santhosh and Sandeep were already there. They had already put up the Bhopal banner on the tree and were waiting for us. Soon we were set up and Ranjana from TSTV started filming the start of the event.
Diane is extraordinarily inspirational. On our way in the car, we were talking about her earlier fasts, and she mentioned that fasting is very easy if you have the correct positive outlook and energy. She also mentioned some inmates at Belfast, who had given up and were fasting, and fasted to their death in 17 days. Turns out, fasting, like marathon running, is a very introspective activity. Makes you constantly re-evaluate yourself.
We mostly stood around wearing the “I am fasting today. Ask me why.” t-shirts, and talked all passersby. Some were very responsive, some mildly interested, and some downright rude. However, at the end of the day we had collected more than 60 signatures on the Fax/Email form, as well as more than 20 people who volunteered to participate in AID Austin’s indefinite relay fast. At the end of it all, it was a very satisfying day, particularly with the news of the Prime Minister agreeing to meet with Bhopalis coming through as we were closing down our activities.
Kiran: Today I accompanied Diane for couple of hours in the afternoon. It was a wonderful experience for me, talking to people on the west mall, introducing Diane and introducing the struggle of bhopalis to them. Seeing Diane right there, exemplifying the conviction of the bhopalis who marched all the way to Delhi and now are on hunger strike, many people were moved and expressed their empathy to the situation. Some of them even joined the ongoing relay fast in solidarity with the hunger strike. I learnt today, by drawing inspiration from Diane that there is so much a single person is capable of doing. Diane is an inspiration to all of us who care about no just Bhopal, but human suffering in general.
Santhosh: The awareness we create by just one-to-one conversation is amazing. In the brief time that I was there, every person we spoke to, agreed that it was worth a cause fighting for and signed up for it!
Most ppl are busy and don’t have much time. But, I am sure they have just enough to take the flyer from us and keep walking :).
A few of them even remembered the tragedy. They agreed that the rights of the survivors and victims were never respected.
Just Diane’s presence is inspiring! When we mentioned that Diane a resident of TX,US is on an indefinite fast in solidarity with the bhopalis, its like a rude jolt and ppl are pushed to sign up for something at least. She sure is an unreasonable woman. She plans to drive on her own, while fasting, to crawford and back. Around the 10th or 11th day she will be flying to pittsburgh and then going to houston and….Where does Diane get all the energy from , that too when fasting ? “When they got in touch with me, the bhopalis sent me good energy” says Diane.
The effect of the resolutions passed by the SG and GSA showed as the awareness among the students was much higher. The no. of signatures we got in just the early morning hours stood testimonial to the support for the bhopalis from the students of UT.
There was media too. Ricardo from austin american statesman took a few photos and interviewed sandhya a bit. Ranjana from TSTV (Texas Students’ Television’) covered the event with a digi cam and interviewed Diane. She will be back on friday to interview the SG and GSA reps at the table.
As for me, I liked my ‘I am fasting today’ T-shirt and am feeling good so far After a day’s fast . But, the table being near the food court Doesn’t really help or maybe as Diane says it does!