Bapuji, if you could see the terrible things that are being done to the poor, we know that you would be fasting beside us.
WASHINGTON DC, 12 MAY. Watched by the statue of Mahatma Gandhi outside the Indian Embassy in Washington DC, the three hunger strikers today marked the end of their personal fast by calling on supporters and justice campaigners around the world to take over and fast in relays from now until the 19th anniversary of the Bhopal gas disaster. STATEMENT AND APPEAL HERE • JOIN THE GLOBAL FAST FOR JUSTICE HERE
BHOPAL ACTIVISTS END HUNGER STRIKE ON 12TH DAY, LAUNCH GLOBAL RELAY FAST
Washington, D.C. 12 May, 2003 — Two women survivors and a long-time Bhopal activist today ended their 12-day hunger strike for justice in Bhopal at the Gandhi Statue in front of the Indian Embassy today in Washington, D.C. They called upon supporters worldwide to sign on to the Worldwide Relay Hunger Strike for Justice in Bhopal and keep it alive until the 19th Bhopal anniversary on December 3, 2003.
More than 40 people, including representatives from PACE International Union, Greenpeace, Health Care Without Harm, D.C. Collective, Code Pink Women for Peace and Association for India’s Development attended the gathering, and issued statements in solidarity.
Mr. Anil Chowdhry, Minister for Personal and Community Affairs, met the Bhopal delegation and assured them that he would communicate to the Government of India their demands, extradition of Anderson and inclusion of Dow Chemical as an accused in the Bhopal criminal case.
The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, a global coalition led by survivors, declared December 3 as the Global Day of Action Against Corporate Crime and has appealed to trade unions, public interest organizations and those protesting the abuses of globalization to observe the day by organizing activities to fight for justice against corporate crimes in their localities.
“Justice delayed is justice denied. The Indian Government should expedite the extradition of Warren Anderson and move rapidly to include Dow in the criminal case against Union Carbide in Bhopal,” said Rashida Bee, president of the Bhopal Gas-affected Women Stationery Workers Association, a trade union that is a member of the global coalition. Despite repeated orders by the Bhopal district court to expedite the trial, the Indian Government has been reluctant to bring UCC and Anderson to justice fueling speculation that it has succumbed to pressure from the US multinational.
On May 8, the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal confronted Dow Chemical, the new owners of Union Carbide, outside its annual shareholders meeting in Midland, Michigan. Addressing shareholders, Dow chairman William Stavropoulos stated that Union Carbide – a wholly owned subsidiary of Dow Chemical – does not face criminal charges in the Bhopal court. However, as recently as April 9, 2003, the Central Bureau of Investigation had indicated to the court that it will submit a report on including Dow as an accused in addition to Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) in the ongoing criminal case. In 1986, UCC, its former chairman Warren Anderson and ten others were charged with manslaughter among other crimes. Neither Anderson nor UCC have appeared in court to face trial.
“In merging with UCC, Dow has acquired a fugitive from justice. By failing to subject itself to the Indian legal system, Dow is trying to evade its responsibilities and has exposed its callous disregard for the law of the land,” said Satinath Sarangi of ICJB. Sarangi, along with Bee and her colleague Champa Devi, began an indefinite fast from New York’s financial district on May 1.
Having handed over the hunger strike to supporters around the world, the Bhopal delegation will travel around the United States raising awareness about Dow’s crimes in Bhopal and build resistance against
the company. More than 200 people from 19 countries have already joined the global fast.
The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal is a global coalition led by the survivors of the 1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal. Billed as the world’s worst industrial disaster, the Union Carbide gas leak killed 8000 within three days of the disaster and exposed more than 500,000. ICJB calls upon Dow, the new owners of Union Carbide, to face longstanding criminal charges against Carbide in India, release toxicological information regarding the poison gases, arrange for long-term medical rehabilitation and monitoring, provide economic rehabilitation and social support for survivors’ children, and clean up the toxic wastes and contaminated groundwater in and around Carbide’s old factory site. The demand to the Government of India is to ensure that Dow is held accountable.