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+ MAARA JHAADOO SAALE KO +
 

 

23 OCTOBER 2002

INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN FOR JUSTICE IN BHOPAL STRIKES AGAIN!

Kinnu & Co ruin poor Michael Parker's award lunch, and present Dow's bewildered CEO with two genuine Bhopali jhadoos

A few minutes ago we had a call from an excited Kinnu (G. Krishnaveni) who at the instant of writing is sitting dressed in sari, bindu and sundry finery in a downtown Houston photo-shop waiting for pictures of the coup she and friends mounted against Dow Chemical CEO Michael Parker.

Parker, who had gone to a $75 a head luncheon in the city's upmarket Hyatt Hotel to receive an award for - if you can believe it - Dow's contribution to the environment, was stunned when a camera-woman taking pictures of him at the foot of the stage turned out to be none other than long term adversary Diane Wilson, famed shrimp-boat-captain-turned-activist and merciless scourge of Dow.

Diane interrupted Parker's remarks about Dow's commitment to the environment and said she had an important announcement to make. At this point local Dow staffers (including their Seadrift plant's foot-in-mouth specialist Kathy Hunt) recognised Diane and began gesturing frantically at their hapless chief, but Diane, utilising the power of lungs fortified by years at sea, told Parker that he had no business accepting an environmental award when his company had yet to clean up its toxic mess in Bhopal. "We have a better award for you," she told him in front of 500 bemused guests.

The Dow contingent at a table near the stage began booing, but fell silent when Kinnu appeared in her Indian costume bearing two genuine Bhopali jhaadoos, specially flown out for the purpose. Kinnu made her way to the stage and held out the brooms to Parker who, at this point, was as much at sea as ever Diane had been. Kinnu told Parker that he was a liar to say that Dow had no liabilities in Bhopal. She told him that women living near the abandoned factory have mercury and other toxins in their breast milk and demanded that Dow take immediate action to clean up its mess.

Meanwhile other friends displayed banners and distributed material that echoed Kinnu-ji's remarks. We await Kinnu's own account. Here is part of the material created for the event, and the official press release.

Click on the pictures for high res jpegs. Please feel free to print the postcard and send it to everyone you know.

OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE

Bhopal Activists Confront Dow Chemical CEO Michael Parker
Disrupt Houston Luncheon with Demands that Dow Clean Up their Liabilities in Bhopal

Houston 23 October, 1.30pm – Activists today interrupted a planned speech by Dow Chemical CEO Michael Parker, presenting him with authentic Indian brooms and a request that he take the symbolic gifts to show he will responsibly clean up his company’s liabilities in Bhopal, India.

Mr. Parker, a guest speaker at the Tenth Annual Houston Conservation Leadership Awards luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Hotel downtown, appeared shocked when approached by Bhopal activist, Houston resident and India native G Krishnaveni, who appeared at the luncheon in traditional Indian dress to offer Mr. Parker the brooms. Mr. Parker did not take the brooms and attempted to repeatedly interrupt Ms. Krishnaveni, while other activists passed out literature and held signs and banners inside the hotel.

"Dow must stop their stalling and take responsibility for the Bhopal tragedy," Ms. Krishnaveni stated. “The Bhopal disaster is far from over. With contaminated soil and ground water siting atop a still uncontained factory site, today babies are poisoned through a 'slow-motion Bhopal' by the toxins in their mother’s breast milk. Court cases in India and the United States are pending against Dow; while Dow drags their feet in court, Bhopalis are dying," she added.

Dow, who spent nearly 10 billion dollars (US) to purchase Union Carbide Corporation in February of 2001, has yet to deal with the toxic legacy of Carbide’s Bhopal pesticide plant, the site of the world’s largest industrial disaster. The infamous December 2, 1984 methyl isocyanate and hydrogen cyanide gas leak killed an estimated 8,000 within a few days; in total over 20,000 people have perished.

Joining Ms. Krishnaveni today was Seadrift, Texas, shrimper-turned-activist Diane Wilson. Ms. Wilson, whose nearly month-long hunger strike and civil disobedience at Dow’s Seadrift facility this summer, pressed Dow on their double standards. "When Dow bought Union Carbide last year, they settled outstanding asbestos litigation here in Texas. Instead of also constructively dealing with Bhopal, they attempt to greenwash their public image by sponsoring a conservation awards luncheon to the tune of $40,000. Where is the justice here?"

Greenpeace Campaigner Rob Fish, also present at today’s event, took note with the form letter reply that Mr. Parker and Dow have sent to the over 30,000 people who have requested that Dow take responsibility in Bhopal.

“Mr. Parker tells concerned citizens that Dow is engaged in meaningful dialogue with groups in Bhopal to discuss their concerns. This is simply not true. This international coalition has made their aims quite clear to Mr. Parker, expressing them to him directly during a meeting at this May’s Dow shareholder meeting in Midland, Michigan. Until we receive a meaningful and substantive reply from Dow that reflects our demands, our pressure will continue,” Fish said.

The International Coalition for Justice in Bhopal is calling on Dow Chemical to face trial in Indian and American courts, to clean up the Bhopal factory site at its expense as would be required in the U.S., to secure long-term medical treatment facilities and medical rehabilitation for the survivors of the poisonous gas leak, to ensure economic compensation for the gas-affected people and their families, and to provide clean drinking water.

To hear the story from the horse's mouth, contact:
G. Krishnaveni, International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal on (832) 444-1731
Rob Fish, Greenpeace on (202) 415-0813
Photos and videography of event available upon request


You are of course already visiting www.bhopal.net, favourite haunt of the U.S. armed forces, please also visit www.greenpeaceusa.org/bhopal and www.corpwatchindia.org.
If you want to be kept up to date with the campaign, please join the remember-Bhopal mailing list by going to:
http://lists.essential.org/mailman/listinfo/remember-bhopal

 

 

21 OCTOBER 2002

DOW'S SWISS BOSS FLEES CHAMPA DEVI'S JHAADOO -
"JHAADOO MARO DOW KO!"

HORGEN, SWITZERLAND, 21 OCTOBER

WE'VE JUST HAD A CALL from Champa Devi and Pranay (second and third from left) who are in sunny Switzerland. The pair, both gas-survivors from Bhopal, have been staging a sit-in outside Dow's European Headquarters along with Greenpeace Switzerland members.

Dow Europe's CEO Respini grudgingly agreed to see the delegation and said he could find only five minutes to spare for them. Champa Devi used those minutes to reject Dow's offer to make a "humanitarian gesture" in Bhopal and reminded Respini that the survivors are asking for their legal rights, not for alms. She enumerated the campaign's four demands.

Champa Devi then ceremonially presented a "jhadoo" [broom] to Respini. "This, for some reason made him scared and run away from the room", reported Pranay.

We await Pranay's full report on the campaign so far in Switzerland.


"Jhadoo Maro Dow Ko!" (or "Beat Dow with a broom") is an initiative of the women survivors. Jhadoo actions in which Dow management are presented with brooms and told to clear up their death factory in Bhopal have so far happened in Bhopal, Switzerland and the US. If you would like to carry out a "Jhaadoo" action, and would like some Bhopali brooms, please contact us on
ukjusticeinbhopal@virgin.net

MEANWHILE...CBI WILL MOVE FOR DOW TO STAND TRIAL AS ACCUSED NUMBER #10

BHOPAL, 18 OCTOBER

We heard today from C. Sahay, prosecuting counsel for the CBI (Criminal Bureau of Investigation) that his client wants Dow Chemical Corporation to join its wholly owned subsidiary Union Carbide in the dock at the Central Criminal Court, Bhopal. Carbide, along with its ex-CEO Warren Anderson is accused of "culpable homicide" for its part in events leading to the leak of toxic gas which killed thousands on the night of 3rd December 1984 in Bhopal. Both Carbide (Accused #10) and Anderson (Accused #1) have been ignoring the summonses of the Court since 1992 and have been declared official "absconders from justice".

Dow Chemical, said Mr Sahay, is the 100% owner of Union Carbide Corporation and on this basis the CBI will seek permission from the Union government to name Dow alongside its criminally absconding subsidiary. Once permission is granted, Dow Chemicals will also be an accused in the case.

Under Indian law, as under US, UK and European law, a company which buys another company acquires not only its assets, but also its oustanding debts, liabilities and legal obligations. Dow Chemical has already accepted Carbide's asbestos liabilities in the United States. It has so far refused to accept Carbide's Bhopal liabilities on the grounds that all civil and criminal liabilities were extinguished by the 1989 settlement between Union Carbide and the then Indian Government of Rajiv Gandhi. Dow seems unable to remember or perhaps to grasp that the settlement was modified by the Indian Supreme Court's decision of 1991, specifically reviving the criminal charges - the same criminal charges from which Union Carbide and Anderson have been hiding ever since.

The move to name Dow as accused in the case came in response to the plea of Jai Prakash of Bhopal Gas Peedit Sangharsh Sahayoga Samiti, a survivor's organisation. Dow management in the United States should reflect that they were warned, both by survivors' groups and by their own shareholders, that buying Carbide would inevitably mean assuming liability for Bhopal and that Dow's assets in India would then come under threat. (Carbide's assets have long since been attached by the Court.)

Champa Devi spoke for all the survivor's organisations when she emphatically rejected Dow's disingenuous offer of a "humanitarian gesture" and told Dow Europe's CEO Respini in Switzerland yesterday that the corporation had no option but to accept its legal liabilities.

 

18 OCTOBER 2002

JHAADOO MAARO DOW KO! CHILDREN OUTSIDE BHOPAL COURT CALL FOR JUSTICE

 

At the Bhopal Magistrates Court, which reconvened yesterday for the first time since dramatically rejecting a bid to reduce charges against chief accused Warren Anderson, schoolchildren from the gas-affected areas of Bhopal came out to leave the CBI's lawyers in no doubt of what the city's people want.
     "Jhaadoo Maaro Dow Ko!", they shouted. "Beat Dow with brooms!"
     A CBI official informed the Judge, Chief Magistrate Rameshwar Kothe, that the Court's arrest warrant against Warren Anderson, former CEO of Union Carbide, who is Accused No 1, had been translated from Hindi into English and handed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, so that extradition proceedings could begin.

       The children were not impressed by vague promises. "We have heard from our mothers and grandmothers what happened here. Many people are sick. We think the people who were responsible should be punished," said Bharati, 11.
     "If this happened in America," said Shekhar, 12, "the big boss Anderson would be in prison."


     Inside, the Court was hearing from Rajendra Singh Pundheer [RSP], Former Production Assistant at the Sevin Unit of the Union Carbide plant.

T.P. Singh (Prosecuting Counsel): When did you work in UCIL, Bhopal?
RSP: From 1972 to 1984.
TPS: Did UCIL, Bhopal provide you with any technical training?
RSP: No.
TPS: At which post did you work?
RSP: I was Production Assistant in the Sevin Unit
TPS: What were your responsibilities?
RSP: To look after production and meet targets.
TPS: In the Sevin Unit who was in charge of plant equipment?
RSP: Maintenance department used to look after that.
TPS: Who was in charge of personnel safety?
RSP: The shift in-charge.
TPS: On the night of the disaster which shift were you in?
RSP: ‘B’ Shift. 3 PM to 11 PM.
TPS: [shows the witness a paper] What document is this?
RSP: It is a log sheet for December 2, 1984 of Sevin Unit and it has my signature at the bottom.
TPS: According to the log sheet, on December 2, 1984 how much MIC did you receive from MIC Unit?
RSP: 1110 litres of MIC in liquid form.
TSP: According to the log sheet, what was the temperature of the liquid MIC?
RSP: It was 20 degrees centigrade.
TPS: According to the log sheet how much MIC was there in the tank?
RSP: There was 65 litres already in the tank and 1110 litres was further received so there were 1175 litres in the tank. The entry in the log sheet has been made by the operator and has been supervised by me.

In plain language, an untrained person was left to supervise a transfer of MIC (methyl isocyanate), well known to be a volatile and deadly chemical, that was stored and moved around on site in quantities that far exceeded all safety rules. (Tank 610, which exploded, was 70% full, against a safety maximum of 40%).

The liquid MIC was at a temperature of 20 degrees C. It was meant to be kept at 0 degrees C, but other former-workers at the Union Carbide plant have testified that the MIC storage tanks were no longer being refrigerated, by order of the management, in order to save a trivial sum on freon gas.

The case, without Anderson (Accused #1) or Carbide (Accused #10) continues...

Union Carbide's fatal Tank 610

 


 

 

 

6 OCTOBER 2002

   
 
   
 

"WE'LL BEAT DOW WITH OUR BROOMS"

"Clean up and clear off". Women launch "jhadoo maro" campaign. "We'll beat you with our brooms. We'll sweep you out of India.

   
 

5 OCTOBER 2002

WOMEN BRING BHOPAL TO A HALT

FROM SATHYU IN BHOPAL

Very successful "Jhadoo" rally yesterday. Over 200 women marched from near the Union Carbide factory with jhadoos in their hands to the bus stand and beat an effigy of Dow [looking not too unlike Ravi Muthukrishnan, Dow-India's current Managing Director and 'main agent of Dow's toxic colonialism' according to the women] with their jhadoos

While traffic at this busiest street crossing in the entire city stood still, the women proceeded to burn the effigy amidst chants of 'phool nahi chingari hain hum, jhadoo mari dow ko', ("We are not flowers, we are flames: beat Dow with the broom!") 'nai azaadi ki nai ladai, jhadoo maro dow ko', ("The new struggle for a new freedom, beat Dow with a broom!) 'idhar sey maro udhar sey maro, jhadoo maro dow ko' ("Hit them from this side, hit them from that side, beat Dow with a broom!"). Armed police, patrol cars, paddy wagons lined the entire stretch of the 1.5 kilometer march with a super heavy presence at the crossing. The police remained peaceful despite the fact that, in keeping with their tradition the women had neither informed nor sought police permission. It helped to have almost all the local and national tv channels and those in the print media accompanying the march till the very end.



Today's met report says yesterday was the hottest day in 52 years [37.6 degrees]. Sheila Thakur [50] and Hajra Bi [40] nearly collapsed at the end of the rally and 63 women in various states of discomfort and exhaustion had to be bussed back. But the spirit was brilliant. What was also amazing was to see what a clear statement a woman makes and conveys when she has a jhadoo in her hand and is marching with her sisters. Awe was obvious on the face of the police and hundreds of male onlookers along the march.

After a days of rest [plus the weeks washing and purchases and other domestic duties]on Sunday the women will begin collecting jhadoos from different communities. All to be hand delivered to Dow-India's headquarters in Mumbai at a later point of time. Soon a group of women survivors will be touring South India to spread the jhadoo maaro campaign.

More pictures, background and women's launch statement here.