June 23, 2008
Diane Wilson and other supporters protest at the Indian Consulate, Houston last week
HOUSTON — Police arrested activist Diane Wilson Monday at the Indian Consulate in Houston. Wilson is on an indefinite fast in solidarity with nine survivors of the Union Carbide Gas Disaster in New Delhi, India.
Through her actions, Wilson, a fourth generation fisherwoman, has urged the Government of India to fulfill the survivor’s demands for clean water, health care and justice. She refers to the survivors “my sisters and brothers,” as she is also from a community polluted by Dow/Carbide in Seadrift, Texas.
On December 3rd, 1984, thousands of people in Bhopal, India, were gassed to death after a catastrophic chemical leak at a Union Carbide pesticide plant; thousands more are now being poisoned by toxic waste from the abandoned factory site. Wilson believes firmly that the Indian government and Carbide parent company Dow Chemical must be held accountable for the ongoing disaster there.
Diane Wilson summed up her commitment to justice and connection the Bhopal survivors: “As one of the Bhopalis said, ‘What else can people do when their government ignores their pain and cries of injustice? Agitate, agitate!'”
Diane’s fast is part of an ongoing Global Fasting Relay, which is being supported by nearly 400 concerned individuals in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, and India. (The full list of fasters available at www.bhopal.net) In North America, actions have taken place in Boston, San Francisco and Toronto, with further action planned at the Indian Embassy in Washington, DC. The brave yet perilous decision to begin an indefinite fast has been undertaken by Wilson and others only after numerous unsuccessful attempts to focus the attention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh toward the grave situation in Bhopal.
Diane Wilson, a mother of five, became aware of the Dow/Carbide crimes in Bhopal after learning her own Texas County, located near several chemical plants including a Carbide/Dow plant, was the most polluted in the US. After Ms. Wilson was arrested after a protest at her local Dow facility, she toured the country refusing to go to jail until the former CEO of Union Carbide was jailed. Former Carbide CEO Warren Anderson jumped bail after the Bhopal Disaster and has refused to face manslaughter charges in India.
Survivors are demanding the establishment of a special commission to deal with the issues that still plague the people of Bhopal. They are also demanding that the Prime Minister hold Dow Chemical legally liable, following Dow’s purchase of the initial disaster offender, Union Carbide, in 2001. Though survivors have gained support from many influential lawmakers, as well as the Ministry of Law and the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, the Prime Minister Singh has not budged from his ongoing support of this rogue chemical company.
Nearly half a million people were exposed to poisonous methyl isocyanate during a runaway chemical reaction at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal in 1984. Since then, more than 22,000 people have died and 150,000 survivors continue to be chronically ill, as the Indian government and Dow have repeatedly failed to address their liabilities in the atrocities of the world’s worst industrial disaster.
The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB) is a coalition of people’s organizations, non-profit groups and individuals who have joined forces to campaign for justice for the survivors of the gas leak. The Campaign for Justice in Bhopal is active in more than 20 cities in the US, UK, France and India.
Read Diane Wilson’s blog on her indefinite fast for Bhopal.