To all my friends everywhere,
those I know, and those I have yet to meet.
10 July 2002
I am writing this because the life of a very precious friend is in danger.
Together with two companions he is staging a satyagraha in the form of an
indefinite fast outside the Indian parliament in New Delhi. The three have
been without food since June 28th, (as you receive this they will be in the
twelfth day) in temperatures of 113F (45C). We are desperately worried about
them. This email comes to you partly because I've been too scared and upset
to think clearly and because I feel the strongest urge to turn to my own friends
for help, but also because there are a number of simple, quick things that
each of us can do (this is not an appeal for money) to help resolve things
My friend's name is Sathyu Sarangi. I've known him about nine years, during
which time we've been working together to provide medical relief for the survivors
of Union Carbide's gas disaster in Bhopal, central India. It is now seventeen
and a half years since the night of gas, or "that night" as it is
called in Bhopal (a little further on I'll write a brief account of what happened),
and well over 100,000 people in the city's poorest districts are still seriously
and chronically ill. Sathyu's two companions are Rashida Bi and Tara Bai,
both gas survivors. Rashida lost five members of her family as a result of
"that night". Tara Bai lost the child she was carrying, as did nearly
half the pregnant women who were exposed to the gas.
The three are protesting against the Indian government's recent application
to dilute the criminal charges that those responsible still face in the Bhopal
High Court. Reducing the charges would in effect extinguish the case, which
has already been on hold for 11 years because the company and its (now ex-)
CEO have repeatedly ignored summonses to appear. If letting them off the hook
seems an odd response to 11 years of contempt, you need to know that Union
Carbide was recently acquired and is now wholly owned by Dow Chemicals, and
Dow is a giant multinational with large interests in India, and limitless
wealth with which to promote them.
Sathyu, Rashida and Tara
have decided that it is worth risking their lives in order to ensure that
the company is brought to account. I'll try to explain why. Please stay with
me. Long though this message is, I've spent three days and four nights agonising
about how to keep it as succinct as possible, yet communicate the importance
of what these three are doing, and also our great fear for them. I'm hoping
that when you know more, you will want to add your voice to those asking the
Indian government to reverse its decision. (You could send an email, or fax,
or pick up the phone. (I've listed all these in a separate attachment.)
I also urge you to forward this message on to as many of your friends as you
can, and to any other people you can think of who might be able to help: activists,
journalists, writers, artists, media figures, lawyers and academics, church
groups, campaigning organisations and charities. We - Sathyu's friends in
this country - want to talk to anyone who will listen. (If we could have we'd
probably have done one of those mass spammings and you'd have got this sandwiched
among the usual offers to make you a billionaire by next week, increase your
ejaculate by 678%, or endow you with breasts the size of Mauna Loa!) We find
that we have become intensely mindful of the hunger-strikers every minute
that we are awake, it's as if our lives are being lived in time borrowed from
Most of what we have been able to learn about the effects of hunger-strikes,
the progression of the body towards death, has been from reading about the
IRA Long Kesh men, who on average survived 60 days on just water before they
died. But blindness and other serious irreversible damage occurred well before
that point. Recent hunger-strikes by Turkish political prisoners have produced
the same grim statistics. The extreme heat in Delhi, coupled with the fact
that the two women are already suffering from a complex of gas-related disorders,
make their deterioration likely to be much faster. A week into the fast we
had reports of raised ketone levels (the body in starvation beginning to consume
itself) and Rashida's blood pressure had climbed. I spoke to Sathyu on the
phone not too long ago, Rashida had just had a severe attack of cramp, but
was recovering. Tara and he are all right, "better than yesterday".
They have been telling each other jokes and indulging in the old Indian pastime
of gaali (humorous abuse). Sathyu says that after a few days the hunger stops
and is replaced by a kind of peace. Doctors are with the three of them and
they are taking water with a little lemon, and electrolytes. About three hundred
gas survivors from Bhopal, among them many children, are with them in the
blistering heat, keeping up their spirits with songs and jokes.
We only found out about the indefinite fast a few days ago. Sathyu had asked
that we not be told until then because he didn't want us to worry. When I
phoned him - the three have a mobile with them - the first thing he asked,
before I'd had a chance to utter a word, was whether I was walking regularly.
It seemed impossible, hearing the sounds of the Delhi streets in the background,
that only six weeks ago he had been staying with us in Sussex and that, at
his instigation we had gone for daily walks through fields and woods full
of fading bluebells. He had learned by then of the impending dilution of charges
against Union Carbide, and he said that it might be necessary to try a hunger-strike.
What else was left?
In the west the hunger-strike is often regarded as a petulant, self-destructive
gesture: "It was their choice to stop eating, they can always choose
to start again," someone said to me, trying to be reassuring, little
realising that her words cut like knives. In India the "fast unto death"
is not perceived like this. Rather it's noble defiance, a stand made in extremis,
as a last response to an intolerable situation, when everything else has been
tried and no other hope is left. Mahatma Gandhi used it as a political weapon
to stop the communal slaughter that followed the partition of India. Gandhiji
detested what he called the "administrative exigencies" of realpolitik,
that is, cynical political decisions that run counter to goodness and justice.
It is his example that was in the minds of the three Bhopali hunger-strikers
when they sat down, a dozen days ago, under their tree in Jantar Mantar, outside
the Indian Parliament.
What else was left? Well what else are people to do when everything has been
taken from them?
aim a blowtorch at my eyes
pour acid down my throat
strip the tissue from my lungs.
drown me in my own blood.
choke my baby to death in front of me.
make me watch her struggles as she dies.
cripple my children.
let pain be their daily and their only playmate.
spare me nothing. wreck my health
so I can no longer feed my family.
watch us starve. say it's nothing to do with you.
dont ever say sorry.
poison our water. cause monsters
to be born among us. make us curse God.
stunt our living childrens growth.
for seventeen years ignore our cries.
teach me that my rage is as useless as my tears.
prove to me beyond all doubt
that there is no justice in the world.
you are a wealthy american corporation
and I am a gas victim of bhopal.
When grief turns to anger, when your rage is as useless as your tears, when
those in power become blind, deaf and dumb in your presence, when the rest
of the world has forgotten you, what are you to do? Must you put away your
anger, choke back your bitterness, and cultivate patience, in the hope that
justice will eventually prevail? The ill and pain-wracked survivors of "that
night" have been waiting for seventeen and a half years. And what if
the very government that is supposed to protect you cynically manipulates
the law against you, what use then is the law, with all its guarantees? Must
you still obey it, while your opponents twist it to whatever they please?
If the law is useless, whispers despair, then does it any longer matter if
you go outside it? What else is left?
Answers to this question are seen nightly on our TV screens. But Tara Bai,
Rashida and Sathyu give a different answer to the angel of despair: that of
the Mahatma who said, "enter with me into the sufferings, not only of
the people of India but of the whole world. Non-violence is not a weapon of
the weak. It is a weapon of the strongest and bravest."
"Terrorism" is much in the news. But there is another, less well-known
species of terror: that caused by the greed, negligence and ruthlessness of
huge corporations. Why did Carbide, ignoring the advice of its own experts,
build its toxic factory in the middle of densely populated neighbourhoods?
Why, in contravention of its own US safety standards, was such a huge quantity
of methyl-isocyanate, a chemical known to be lethal, stored on site? Why was
the tank that ruptured not being kept, as the safety manual required, at zero
degrees C? Why, on "that night" were the plant's back-up safety
systems, such as the "scrubber", semi-dismantled and not working?
Why did the alarm siren not immediately sound, offering a small chance to
those who heard it?
We know the answers to some of these questions from talking to people who
worked in the plant. The tank had not been refrigerated for some months, in
order to save 500 rupees a day on freon gas. 500 rupees is about £7,
or $11. The "scrubber" was in bits because parts of it had become
badly corroded and needed replacing, but the work had not been done. The alarm
siren stayed silent because it had been switched off. There had been so many
leaks of gas at the plant that the constant hooting had become a nuisance.
To other questions we have as yet no answer. These are the questions that
Carbide would have had to answer in court - if it had ever showed up.
Carbide isnt charged with terrorism. But it might be if more people
knew what the terror in Bhopal was like. Indeed, what happened on "that
night" redefines the word.
Let me tell you about the night of December 2nd/3rd 1984. It happened just
after midnight, the unthinkable thing that had been coming, that journalists
and plant workers alike had predicted. A rumbling in the pipes, the realisation
that something had gone terribly wrong. Panic, then, and the discovery that
all the safety systems were down. Water had got into the giant tank (the thing
is the size of a large locomotive) containing the methyl-isocyanate (MIC).
A violent heat-producing reaction began and as more water poured into the
tank the fiercer grew the reaction. At high temperatures MIC breaks down into
other highly toxic chemicals, including cyanides. The tank was buried in the
ground, sealed under concrete, yet so intolerable was its chemical indigestion
that it burst out of the earth and stood shuddering on end, emitting a stream
of gas into the night. Another stream poured from the half-dismantled "scrubber",
and was caught by the wind and flung towards the crowded neighbourhoods nearby.
In J.P.Nagar, Oriya Basti, Kainchi Chola, Kazi Camp, most people were at home
sleeping. The gases came into their houses without warning. They woke choking,
with their eyes and mouths burning. Nobody knew what had happened. Then came
shouts of "gas!" and "run away!" and doors began opening,
people tumbling out of their houses. The gas was waiting for them, rolling
in thick clouds along the narrow lanes, which in some places were no more
than four feet wide. The streetlamps were shedding a tobacco-brown light.
No insects whirled about them, they were all already dead. As families picked
up their toddlers and babies and fled, the alleys became narrow stampedes
of people and animals - cows and dogs ran along with their owners - people
fell and were trampled, children were wrenched out of their mothers' arms
and lost, never found again. 8,000 people died very horribly, with piss and
shit running down their legs, their eyeballs white slits where the gases had
bleached them. The gases stripped the linings from their lungs, and they drowned
in their own fluids. Others had sudden convulsions and dropped in the street.
The city was full of dead bodies. Nobody knows exactly how many died, but
we can form an idea because 7,000 burial shrouds were bought over the next
three days. This does not take into consideration the hundreds of people who
were unaccounted for, or the families who had no-one left to bury or cremate
them. In the railway station, a whole tribe of gypsies camped on one of the
further platforms perished to the last soul. Not one of their names is known.
By morning the hospitals were full of desperately ill people, coughing up
their lungs, many unable to see. The doctors did not know how to treat them,
since nobody knew what exactly what had poisoned them, and Carbide was not
saying. It is a fair certainty that cyanide was involved, the antidote to
which, sodium thiosulphate, was available. Lives which could have been saved
were lost. But the survivors were soon to regard those who had died as the
lucky ones. Though none of them knew it, their immediate suffering was only
the beginning. Half a million people were injured by breathing the gases,
many were left so badly disabled that they would never work again. Their families
became destitute, reduced to beggary - some of the worlds poorest people destituted
by one of the world's richest corporations. Surely there'd be hell to pay.
Someone's head would surely roll. The compensation, and the responsibility
of caring, for the rest of their lives, for the injured would surely empty
even Carbide's huge coffers. You'd think so, wouldn't you?
On "that night" in Bhopal, three times as many people died as were
killed in New York on September 11th. The Bhopalis were just as innocent and
unsuspecting as the office workers whose lives ended so brutally in the Twin
Towers. They too had done nothing to deserve such a terrible fate. But no
crusade was launched, no rock concert was staged for their benefit, no ageing
rock stars queued on stage to sing songs about "freedom". After
September 11, there was a massive appeal for donations, leading to compensation
payments of over $1,000,000 to relatives of the victims in recognition of
the stress they had suffered. The families of Bhopal's dead were paid $1250
per corpse. Of the injured, those who have received anything at all, got on
average just $500. During the Exxon Valdez disaster, Alaskan sea-otters were
kept glossy by feeding them fresh lobster at the cost of $500 per day per
otter. "The life of an Indian citizen in Bhopal," commented the
Times of India, "is clearly much cheaper than that of a sea otter in
Immediately after the disaster, the sick and dazed Bhopalis were told that
they were going to become rich. They were promised this by important foreign
lawyers who arrived in droves from New York, waving forms at grief-stricken
people who, in many cases could not read or write, and whose scrawled Xs gave
these ambulance-chasers authority to file claims on their behalf and keep
anything up to 50% of the winnings. In order to protect the gas-survivors,
who were however not consulted, the Indian government stepped in and passed
an Act establishing itself as sole plaintiff on their behalf. Seemed like
a good thing at the time.
Carbide, afraid of being bankrupted by US-scale damages, sought a ruling that
as the "accident" had happened in India, any case arising out of
it should be heard by Indian courts. Mr Justice Keenan, sitting in the Lower
Manhatten District Court, found in Carbide's favour, on condition that the
company agreed to accept and abide by all rulings and requirements of Indian
courts. The company however had no intention of coming to court.
When the first case opened in Bhopal, the initial procedural hearings were
enlivened by Carbide's lawyers who threatened to call every single person
injured by their clients gases to the witness stand and suggested the
court allow one day for the cross-examination to each. As there were more
than 500,000 people in that category, this meant that the court would have
to set aside half a million days. In other words, if the testimony had begun
being taken in the declining days of the Roman empire, (359 AD, in the reign
of the Emperor Julian) it would just about be coming to its end. The company
was eventually ordered to pay "interim compensation" of Rs 250 crores.
(About £35 million.) Carbide, which on its websites still shamelessly
professes its "anguish" at what had happened, contested even this.
Shortly afterwards it gleefully announced that it had a reached a full and
final settlement with the Indian government, for the sum of $470 million.
So ludicrously low was this settlement that when the news was announced on
Wall Street, Carbide's stock actually JUMPED two points.
This settlement, which was bitterly opposed by gas survivors and condemned
by every newspaper in India, also extinguished any criminal charges against
the company. The Indian Supreme Court, however, reinstuted the criminal case
and it was these new proceedings that Warren Anderson and Carbide ignored
for 11 years, in total disregard of the promise they had made to the trusting
How did the gas sufferers spend the years of waiting? I found out one day,
ten summers ago, when a mysterious Indian man phoned and said he would like
to meet me. I turned up at Hayward's Heath station to collect him, late as
usual, and there waiting for me was Sathyu. He was dressed in a long Indian
kurta and had a turban wound round his head, very exotic for East Sussex.
Sathyu knew of the work I'd done raising money for Amnesty International and
Kurdish refugees and asked me to help him set up a clinic to provide free
medical care for the gas-victims in Bhopal. Like most people, I had heard
of the Bhopal gas disaster but assumed that surely everything that could have
been done must already have been done.
But as he talked, a grand summer's day in a garden in the heart of the Sussex
weald was gradually overcast by shadows of "that night". Sathyu
conjured for me a vision of the Bhopal districts near the factory, where people
(this was eight years later) were still wracked by breathlessness, blurred
vision, aching limbs and backs; where limbs went in and out of numbness; where
there were monstrous births; where children suffered from recurrent fevers
and coughs that shook their bodies with ceasing; where even young adults were
developing cataracts and felt constantly exhausted, with no appetite either
for food or for life; where Carbide's gases added depression and anxiety to
their already hard lives.
Later, once our free Sambhavna Clinic was up and running, our doctors began
to see evidence of a menstrual chaos among the affected population. Girls
who had been babies, or in the womb at the time of the gas, were now coming
to puberty. Some were not menstruating at all, or had a period only once in
three months, while others were bleeding three times a month. No work was
being done on this. It was an unacknowledged epidemic. Other things, too,
were being missed. A report from the Clinic observed, "The alarming rise
in cancers, tuberculosis, reproductive system problems and other problems
such as growth retardation among children born after the disaster remain undocumented."
Today the situation is not much better. You can work out for yourself what
kind of relief $500 must have been able to provide over seventeen and half
years. I make it about 7 cents a day. Well it would buy you a cup of tea.
Despite everything the hope always remained that one day Carbide - which was
responsible not only for the disaster but for the continuing health holocaust
- would be made to answer in court for its actions. But this has never happened.
Because of its illegal refusal to appear before the Bhopal court, Carbide
has never yet had to face hostile cross-examination about the decisions and
actions that caused the world's worst ever industrial disaster. The testimony
of survivors and workers at the plant remains unheard. To this day the company
has never revealed the composition of the gases that leaked, claiming that
this information is a "trade secret", which means that doctors are
still in the dark. Nor, although Carbide is known to have conducted at least
15 animal and human studies on the effects of methyl isocyanate, has it ever
responded to medical requests to share its data.
See nowt, hear nowt, say nowt, do nowt - it seems to have been the strategy
not just of the company but of every power which could have done something
to help in Bhopal. An extradition treaty exists between India and the US,
but successive Indian governments failed to press for its use against Warren
Anderson who, incidentally, has vanished from his home in St Petersburg, Florida
and, according to elite US law enforcement agencies, just cannot be found
anywhere. Becoming invisible is a talent he clearly shares with that other
fugitive from justice, Osama bin Laden. The perpetrators of the world's worst
act of terrorism and the world's worst industrial massacre are both on the
lam from justice, yet to my knowledge, no British Prime Minister has yet fluttered
round the world to create a coalition against corporate terror. No US President
has threatened to bomb Florida into the stone age unless it reveals where
Anderson is hiding, or stood blinking in front of the TV cameras to tell the
world that he would never rest until those responsible for this devastating
horror were brought to justice. Osama and Warren, the terror twins, their
whereabouts remain a mystery to this day.
Had Anderson been cross-examined in court, it would have emerged that in the
run up to the disaster he and his board had demanded a programme of ruthless
budget cuts in their Indian factory. This is very well shown by Dominique
Lapierre and Xavier Moro in their new book "Five Past Midnight in Bhopal",
which has just been published in the UK and US and which presents a damning
mountain of evidence. The money-saving drive was prompted by directives from
US head office (Carbide owned a 51% controlling stake of Union Carbide India
Ltd). It involved a drastic reduction in the number of safety staff, cutting
the duration of staff safety training from six months to two weeks, turning
a blind eye to the storage of unsafe amounts of MIC, ignoring the shocked
reports of their own visiting American engineers. On the witness stand, Anderson
would have had to explain why his company had endangered the lives of thousands
of people to save £7 a day on freon gas.
So long as there is a criminal suit pending against Carbide in the Bhopal
court, the hope of re-opening the issue of compensation remains alive. Meanwhile,
however, evidence is accumulating of a second, slower, but no less lethal
Early last year my daughter Tara and I were staying with Sathyu in Bhopal.
Dominique too was in town and had obtained permission for us all to visit
Carbides derelict factory. At about 8am on the morning of our intended
visit, Sathyu's building began rocking from end to end. We had to go outside,
but there was time to grab our cups of tea (7 cents is 7 cents). We didn't
know it, but we'd just felt the edge of the huge earthquake that devastated
Gujerat. At the time we took it for a minor tremor and soon forgot about it.
The factory was so surreal it wiped everything else from our minds.
It is hard to describe the impact of the place. It is vast: acre upon acre
of tall, heat-bleached grass out which rear the rusting skeletons of various
chemical plants. In the grounds are many small trees. The bel fruit is especially
delicious, according to neighbourhood children, who often climb in over the
wall, but I wouldn't want to eat it. Was it our imagination, or were there
no birds? Isn't this what they say about Auschwitz? The abandoned control
room is like a set from a Hollywood disaster flick. Its floor is still littered
with Carbide papers and memoranda from seventeen and a half years ago. Tara
(daughter Tara, no relation to Tara Bai the hunger-striker) carefully photographed
the safety notices that still hang on the walls, bearing hand-lettered instructions
in best Hinglish about what to do in the unlikely event of a gas leak. The
dial which recorded the outlandish pressure in the MIC tank is still jammed
on overload. Beneath one installation fat globs of mercury lie on the ground,
spilled before the disaster. Here and there we came across piles of reddish-brown
rocks, some the size of boulders. "Be careful with your cigarette,"
one of our party was admonished. "Those are not rocks, they are lumps
of Sevin, which has a low ignition point. If it catches light, it will release
Some months after our visit, the Sevin did catch light. A carelessly tossed
away cigarette set fire to the grass and once again there were stinging eyes
and noses and lungs and panic in the bastis (poor neighbourhoods). Mercifully
this time, nobody died. But the poor who live near the factory are being poisoned
in any case. Each rainy season, the abandoned chemicals, among them heavy
metals and organophosphates, leach into the ground and contaminate the water
table. The inhabitants of local bastis are forced to drink this poisoned water,
with calamitous consequences for their health. People who have moved into
these places years after the disaster are demonstrating similar symptoms to
the gas survivors.
While I have been labouring over this email, Dominique, with characteristic
energy has already written several letters and articles. In one of them he
describes what it was like to drink a glass of water from an area near the
factory. "I recently wanted to reckon the aggressiveness of this pollution
by drinking half a glass of the water of one of those wells. My mouth, my
throat, my tongue instantly got on fire, while my arms and legs suffered an
immediate skin rash. This was the simple manifestation of what men, women
and children have to endure daily."
Who should be held to account for this second holocaust, which is not covered
by the original criminal charges, nor by the infamous "settlement"?
Can anyone have the slightest doubt that Union Carbide needs to be brought
to court? Of course Carbide no longer exists. It has been subsumed into Dow.
But Dow has assumed liability for various Carbide misdemeanours in the US.
Why not in India? Worthless though their lives may be, compared to those of
Alaskan sea-otters, dont Indians too deserve justice?
"We'll fight, says Tara Bai, youngest of the three hunger-strikers,
till justice is delivered. In fact, with every passing day, our fight
grows stronger. After all, we have the power of being right with us."
Tara Bai,is thirty-six years old. She was nineteen when the gas leaked, and
three months pregnant. The gas burnt her lungs as she fled the lethal cloud.
She lost her baby, and was told that she could never conceive again. She is
partially blind, has chronic breathing difficulties and has been diagnosed
with neurological problems. By last Saturday, eight days into the hunger strike,
her blood sugar level had dropped to 38. She is under close observation by
Rashida Bi is forty-six and has lost five gas-exposed members of her family
to cancers. Left permanently semi-blind by Carbides gases, she leads
one of the most active survivors organizations. This hunger-strike is
not the first time she has undertaken an ordeal. In Bhopal she is legendary
for having once led several hundred women and children on a month-long march
to Delhi. When we were in Bhopal, Tara and I met her and she described how
they had walked, day after day, through the heat, often thirsty, sleeping
at night in forests full of snakes and scorpions and animals as hungry as
they were. They met with great kindness from people along the way, who gave
them food and water from their wells. When they reached Delhi and Parliament,
they stood in the very street where the hunger-strike is now happening, and
waited. And waited. And waited. No one came out to receive their petition.
The politicians did not want to know. Plus ca change. A week into the hunger-strike,
Rashidas blood pressure had soared and according to the doctor present,
she was showing signs of starvation.
On July 18th, in the Bhopal court will hear the application to dilute the
criminal charges against Warren Anderson and his merry men. If the application
is granted, the charge will be reduced from "culpable homicide",
which is an extraditable offence, to "negligence", which is not.
Mr Anderson, if he can ever be found, will probably get off with a fine, and
the gas-survivors will once again have been shafted. The hearing is on July
17th and it is already the small hours of the 10th here in Britain. In a few
hours we will begin a vigil and a one-day fast outside the Indian High Commission
in London. In Delhi the hunger-strikers are into their twelfth day without
We have one week in which to persuade the Indian government to change its
mind. Please do everything in your power to help. Some ideas are given on
where there is an electronic petition you can sign. Attached to this email,
Ill also include a list of other things that can be done, like sending
faxes to your nearest Indian embassy or high commission.
Most of all, I urge you to forward this message to all your friends, and to
anyone you think of who might be able to help. Unlike Dow-Carbide, we have
no money for advertisements or PR companies. Hopefully our message will travel
by people-power from one network of friends to another. And if everyone who
receives it sends a fax, or an email, the Indian government will be swamped
by the protest. Please make it happen.
I want to end with a few words about my friend Sathyu. A brilliant metallurgical
engineer (his old professor at Varanasi University told one of our friends
that Sathyu was the best student hed ever had), he gave up everything
to help the gas-affected of Bhopal. He came to the city the day after the
disaster and has stayed ever since. When I first knew him, he was living in
a tiny room in one of the citys most squalid districts. Like his neighbours
he did not have enough to eat and was drinking polluted water. He had had
TB, and was weak, but still continued put in long exhausting days of work.
He is probably the most tireless person I have ever known.
Non-violence, said Gandhiji, is a more active and real fight
against wickedness than retaliation whose very nature is to increase wickedness."
Sathyu has had some pretty weird encounters with wickedness. Check
here for his account of being visited in jail in Houston, Texas by an
executive of Union Carbide, who'd had him arrested the day before for distributing
leaflets about Bhopal at its AGM. "Where you and I have eyes,"wrote
Sathyu, "he had frozen cubes."
I wrote about him in my book "The Cybergypsies" which (after describing
a scene in which Sathyu and I attempted to hijack an advertising awards ceremony,
in order to put out a message about Bhopal to the watching TV cameras) concludes
with these words:
"During my wanderings in worlds, real and unreal, I have often come into
currents of pure evil, but I have also known the touch of great goodness.
I think of M, unselfish to the point of self-destruction, searching for someone
upon whom he could lavish his love. I remember Alastair McIntosh blowing his
conch barefoot in the April slush, and how he once came home and narrated
highland yarns to our saucer-eyed children, and played tunes on a penny whistle.
But most of all I think of Sathyu, who lived in a slum, thanking the champagne
drinkers at the Grosvenor House."
Love and good cess to all,
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP US, BY RASHIDA, TARA BAI AND SATHYU
Simplest and quickest actions are listed first.
WHATEVER YOU DO, Please inform us by emailing
firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
1. JOIN OUR MASS FAX ACTION (You can do this right now)
the fax action directed towards the Indian Government. .
2. MAKE A TELEPHONE CALL
(or three if you afford to)
2a. Call the Ministry of Home Affairs (India Tel: +91 11 378.23.97). Ask to
speak to the Minister and demand that the Ministry should direct the Central
Bureau of Investigation to withdraw its application that the charges against
Warren Anderson be diluted from homicide to negligence. Demand that Warren
Anderson and Union Carbide representatives be extradited and made to face
trial in India for their crimes against the people of Bhopal.
2b. Call the Ministry of Chemicals (India Tel: +91 11 3381573). Ask to speak
to the Minister and demand that the Ministry should rescind its decision to
distribute the survivors compensation money to the 20 non-gas-affected
wards, and instead move towards rapid and just compensation of survivors in
the 36 gas-affected wards of Bhopal.
2c. Call the Indian embassy in your city to echo the survivors' demands. Find
it it here. If you live in the US, find the Indian embassy or your nearest
consulate, from this
Demand that the Government of India:
i) REVERSE ITS APPLICATION TO DILUTE the outstanding criminal charges against
Warren Anderson and Union Carbide, from which they have been absconding for
11 years. And PRESS FOR THE EXTRADITION of Warren Anderson and Carbide executives
from the USA, invoking the existing treaty.
ii) COMPEL Dow Chemicals assume Union Carbides liabilities in Bhopal
as they have done in the USA
iii) RESCIND ITS ORDER to distribute the compensation money, that rightfully
belongs to the survivors, among 20 non-gas-affected wards. Instead, the Government
should arrange to distribute the money to the victims of the disaster, 94
percent of whom have till date received a meagre Rs. 25,000 ($500) for lifelong
health impacts and lost livelihoods.
3. EMAIL LETTERS TO THE EDITORS OF INDIAN NEWSPAPERS
Send letters to:
(Times of India)
firstname.lastname@example.org (The Hindu)
Please make the following points:
a) The Government of India is complicit in the crimes against the people of
Bhopal by shielding the accused - Union Carbide and its new owner Dow Chemicals
- from the pending criminal liabilities in the Indian courts. This is a travesty
of justice and a sell-out of the interests of the victims of the worlds
worst industrial disaster.
b) Warren Anderson and Dow Chemicals, Union Carbides new owner, have
to face trial in India for their complicity in the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster
which has claimed more than 20,000 lives and left 150,000 with serious health
c) The Central Bureau of Investigation should withdraw its application to
dilute charges against Warren Anderson from homicide to negligence and instead
move to quickly extradite Anderson;
d) The Ministry of Chemicals should rescind its order to distribute the compensation
money, that rightfully belongs to the survivors, among 20 non-gas-affected
wards. Instead, the Government should arrange to distribute the money to the
victims of the disaster, 94 percent of whom have till date received a meagre
Rs. 25,000 ($500) for lifelong health impacts and lost livelihoods.
4. EMAIL LETTERS TO THE INDIAN PRIME MINISTER AND HOME AFFAIRS MINISTER
Email the Indian Prime Minister and Home Minister directly, making the points
listed in action 3) above.
Indian Prime Minister: http://pmindia.nic.in/writetous.htm
Home Affairs Minister: email@example.com
NB: emails are more likely to be lost in cyberspace or deleted than faxes.
5. FAX A LETTER TO YOUR
LOCAL INDIAN AMBASSADOR OR HIGH COMMISSIONER
Please make the points suggested in action 3) above. Find
the fax number in this list.
If you live in the US, use
6. ORGANISE A 9am TO 5pm HUNGER STRIKE at a prominent location in your city
or at the Indian embassy in your city if there is one. Issue a press statement
incorporating the key demands of the Bhopal survivors. You can download the
demands direct from the Take Action section of http://www.corpwatchindia.org.
Or make the points in action 3) above. If you are going to fast, please drink
plenty of water and do not fast if there is any risk to your health.
7. ORGANISE A SIMPLE DEMO outside the Indian embassy with banners that say
Justice for Bhopal. Extradite Warren Anderson. Distribute compensation
money to survivors. Hand over a petition with demands to the Ambassador.
8. ORGANISE CANDLE-LIGHT VIGILS OR OTHER PEACEFUL GATHERINGS. Invite your
local press to attend, speak about the hunger-strike in Delhi and the strikers
Gandhiji said: Non-violence is a more active and real fight against
wickedness than retaliation whose very nature is to increase wickedness .
. . Enter with me into the sufferings, not only of the people of India but
of the whole world . . . Non-violence is not a weapon of the weak. It is a
weapon of the strongest and bravest.
Rashida Bi, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
Tara Bai, Gas Peedit Nirashrit Morcha, Bhopal
Satinath Sarangi, Bhopal Group for Information and Action
For more information, contact:
The National Campaign for Justice in Bhopal
B14, Second Floor, Gulmohar Park, New Delhi 110 049.
Tel: +91-11-656.17.43 / +91-11-651.48.47
Nity - firstname.lastname@example.org
Deena - email@example.com
In the UK contact
Tim - firstname.lastname@example.org
Indra - email@example.com
In the US contact
Neil - firstname.lastname@example.org
Gary - email@example.com