Nanko was a family man before "that night". Afterwards, unable to continue working as a load-carrier, he became destitute and had to learn a new trade, that of the beggar.

Why we are asking you for help

FOR THE LAST TWENTY YEARS, some of the poorest people on earth, sick, living on the edge of starvation, illiterate, without funds, powerful friends or political influence, have found themselves fighting one of the world's biggest and richest corporations, backed by the government, military, and, it often seems, the judiciary of the world's most powerful nation.
The corporation and its allies have it all – wealth, power, political influence, lawyers, PR companies, the ear of presidents and prime ministers, the power to dictate policy or bend it to their will, and to manipulate the courts and laws of two countries to avoid justice in either.

The nothing people have literally nothing. If 35,000 of them clubbed together they could not afford one American attorney. Their efforts to obtain justice have been thwarted in every way possible by the corporation that killed their families and ruined their lives. Naively trusting that the Indian government would come to their rescue, they were instead abandoned, sold down the river by politicians and judges, obstructed and swindled by corrupt bureaucrats, cheated by heartless quacks and not infrequently beaten by their own police for daring to protest.

It's David against an army of Goliaths.

The survivors' campaign for justice itself has been conducted on the most unequal terms. On one side, multi-million dollar budgets and the best professional brains money can buy – armies of corporate lawyers, political lobbyists, spindoctors and media manipulators (including Burson Marstellar the world's biggest PR company) – on the other a handful of volunteers often without money for stamps, photocopying, telephone bills, or travel. At any one time over the last two decades, there cannot have been more than about half a dozen people involved in the core team in the west, and there are no more than handful of people in the world who can unravel the whole 20-year saga of the struggle in all its details and in all its forms, medical, technical, legal, environmental, social, political.

Despite these odds, for twenty years the survivors have conducted a courageous and dignified struggle. From this poorest of communities (representatives of the two-thirds of humanity that lives on the edge of the abyss) has come a flowering of science, art and political intelligence.

During the 1990s, the survivors' organisations began to seek campaigning allies abroad and out of this came The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, an alliance led by the survivors' groups and including Greenpeace and the Pesticides Action Network, UK & North America.

The ICJB's objectives fall into two categories.

Vis a vis the 1984 toxic gas release the ICJB seeks to bring Union Carbide (or its 100% owner Dow Chemical) to court to answer the criminal charges from which it has been absconding since 1992, to seek just recompense for the victims, who have struggled against injury and illness for 18 years on 'compensation' that barely provides one cup of tea a day, to compel the company to release medical information on the leaked gases currently being withheld as a 'trade secret'.

Vis a vis the ongoing pollution of soil and water, the ICJB seeks to hold Dow Chemical liable for Union Carbide's undischarged responsibilities in Bhopal, to force Dow to pay for the clean-up, to the highest international standards, of the polluted Carbide factory site in Bhopal, to pay just compensation and provide adequate medical care to all those affected by the land- and water-poisoning.

The ICJB has achieved a string of important victories. It persuaded the Indian government finally to seek the extradition of Union Carbide CEO Warren Anderson to face the outstanding criminal charges against him. At its request the Supreme Court of India has ordered clean water to be supplied to the neighbourhoods whose supplies are polluted. More recently the Supreme Court has ordered that funds held by the Reserve Bank of India for the gas-victims but withheld without reason for 15 years, should now be paid in full and with interest. (It will still not cover many families' medical bills.)

Much remains to be done, but the survivors believe that however long it takes, in the end they will win. Says survivor Sunil Kumar, 'We will win against the company and all its power for the very reason that we have nothing – and nothing to lose. With all its money and influence the world does not believe Carbide's lies. We will continue to speak simply, tell the truth and ask for justice. There are a lot of good people in the world. When enough have heard our story, they will join us and together we will be irresistible.'

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