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Worldwide Relay Hunger Strike For Justice In Bhopal
Hold Dow Liable
On May 1, 2003, in New York, Bhopal survivors begin an indefinite hunger strike to protest Dow Chemical's refusal to accept its liabilities in Bhopal. The survivors' fast will launch a worldwide relay hunger strike for justice.
What you can do . . .
1. Join the protest, join the fast.
You can show your solidarity by joining the fast. Observe a day-long or longer fast. This is a powerful way of saying you care for the survivors of the Bhopal disaster and support them in their demands for justice. You can fast wherever you are, doing whatever you usually do for a living or with your life. In India, the hunger strike (Un Shun in Hindi, Patni Porattam in Tamil) is a well-known and much used form of satyagraha (Satya – Truth; Agraha: Insistence) or “Insisting on the Truth.”
2. Start your fast carefully!
On the day(s) of the hunger strike, you can start the day by drinking a glass of lime juice (no sugar) with three to four teaspoons of honey. End the day with a similar glass of lime juice. PLEASE DRINK sufficient quantities of water through the day, and electrolytes sometime in between. Before beginning, read more information on safe fasting here.
3. Please Register
The Relay Hunger Strike allows people, just common people, not NGOs or activists alone, to take action for what they feel is right. The strength of the act of large numbers of people undertaking the satyagraha by simultaneously fasting in solidarity with the survivors of Bhopal ensures that these truths are kept alive – in the media, in people’s minds.
If you are unable to join the fast, please consider donating the cost of a day's meal(s) to help us sustain our campaign. You can do that here.
Thank you for your inspiration!
A Short History of the
Following the hunger strike by two gas survivors and one activist outside the Indian parliament in New Delhi last year, concerned and outraged people all around the world joined a mass hunger strike to express their solidarity with the survivors demands for justice, proper compensation and environmental and medical rehabilitation. What began as a number of spontaneous acts grew into possibly the largest relay hunger strike in history, involving over a thousand people world wide.
The Delhi hunger strike was sparked by the Indian government's attempt to have charges in the ongoing criminal case relating to the 1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal substantially reduced. Survivors' maintain that the move was in part motivated by pressure arising from the 2001 merger between Union Carbide and Dow Chemical: though Union Carbide had long ago divested itself of its Indian stock in order to wriggle free of the criminal case in the CJM, Bhopal, Dow has significant assets in India that are vulnerable to attachment in the event of a transfer of pending liabilities from Carbide to Dow.
Long before the merger, survivors made it clear to Dow that in taking over Union Carbide's assets it would also be taking over Carbide's liabilities in Bhopal, lock stock and all of its stinking barrels. Dow ignored the warnings, and misled both its shareholders and the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission about the true extent of Carbide's Bhopal-related liabilities. In February 2001, survivors' groups began a series of protests against Dow, calling on the company to accept its legal and moral responsibilities. In the face of survivors' insistence that they submit to the rule of law, Dow has responded with evasion, lies, and - following a peaceful demonstration in Mumbai last December - a $10,000 lawsuit, slapped upon impoverished survivors like a mocking insult.
The Truths we’re talking about in the context of Bhopal are:
1. There is compelling evidence that Warren Anderson and senior executives of Union Carbide Corporation knew and deliberately approved of swingeing under-investment and cuts in safety systems at the factory in Bhopal. The factory in Bhopal was far inferior – in terms of safety, alarm and disaster management systems – than Union Carbide’s own factory in the US. This is one of the primary causes for the magnitude of the disaster. Anderson and his men have never yet appeared in court to face questioning about decisions that led to the deaths of more than 20,000 people. Both Anderson and Union Carbide have been declared absconders and 'fugitives from justice' for evading lawful process in the Indian courts, where they have faced charges of culpable homicide since 1991.
2. Union Carbide have left their factory in Bhopal a 'world toxic-hotspot'. Over 10,000 people are forced to drink water laced with alarmingly high levels of mercury, dichlorobenzene, chloroform, carbon tetrachloride and other persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals. A recent study by Toxics Link, New Delhi found traces of lead and mercury in the breast milk of women living in these communities. Even if the 1984 disaster had been averted, contamination of drinking water supplies would still be an issue today owing to bad housekeeping by Carbide. New documents obtained from Carbide show that the company tried to cover up the extent of the contamination. A lawsuit in the New York courts is currently going to appeal.
3. Carbide’s pending liabilities in Bhopal belong to the Dow Chemical Company, Carbide’s new owner. Dow knew about Carbide’s pending liabilities in Bhopal before purchasing the company, yet omitted mention of them in pre-merger submissions to the Securities and Exchange Commission. After the merger in 2001, Dow inherited Carbide's assets: plants, products, people (many of whom are still in the same jobs in the same offices), markets and profits; according to well established merger law, as the new parent company Dow also inherited Carbide's liabilities. Dow has since accepted liability for several Carbide cases in the USA, yet when challenged about its refusal to accept the Bhopal liabilities, Dow speciously maintains that Carbide is a separate company. That Dow only makes this distinction in respect of Bhopal reveals deeply racist double standards.
4. The survivors in Bhopal have been re-victimised by the Government of India’s reluctance to part with their compensation money, rehabilitate them or have those accused of causing the disaster brought to justice. In these grave violations of the rights of the survivors, the US Government has played an important role in obstructing justice and shielding the companies and people – Union Carbide, Dow Chemical, Warren Anderson -- that ought to be held criminally liable for the disaster.
5. The gas disaster, inflicted upon the people of Bhopal by corporate greed and a depraved disregard for human life, has never ended. Of the half a million innocents poisoned by Carbide's gases in 1984, more than 20,000 - the lucky ones, as some in Bhopal are wont to say - have died intensely painful deaths, the majority over the intervening months and years. Studies have shown that the number of gas-related illnesses is increasing over time. Cancers, gynaecological disorders, growth retardation, susceptibility to common diseases, mental illness, neurological ailments and monstrous births are some of the horrors that inhabit what is left of life for Bhopal's gas affected. Compensation, which must cover endless medical bills, has worked out at a pathetic 7 US cents a day. In the face of chronic poverty, illnesses, betrayal and injustice, survivors have not stopped fighting and have not given up hope of a disease free and dignified life.
To see last year's World-Wide Hunger Strike, click here.