July 2, 2003
Press Statement

Bhopal gas victims Jubilant Over India's Request to US to Extradite Anderson

 


Survivors organisations and the International Campaign for Justice in
Bhopal celebrated their victory in forcing the Indian Government to
serve a long-pending notice to the US Government to extradite
former Union Carbide chairman Warren Anderson. Anderson is
wanted in the Bhopal Court for his primary role in the 1984 gas
disaster in Bhopal that has claimed more than 20,000 lives to date.

Senior officials of the Indian embassy in Washington, D.C. and the
Central Bureau of Investigation [CBI] have confirmed the delivery of
the extradition request. "This long-awaited move is a major step
towards in our struggle for justice." said Rashida Bee, president of
the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
(Bhopal Gas-Affected Women Stationery Workers Association).
"We will ensure that this is not just a token gesture. We will
continue to pressure the Government till Anderson and others
responsible for the world's worst disaster face trial in the ongoing
criminal case." she added.

International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal's [ICJB] vast network of
supporters in the U.S. has already initiated moves to ensure that
the US government honors the extradition request. "The ball is
squarely in the US Government's court. After all the talk about
justice, it is now time for the US Government to walk the walk and
get Anderson to face criminal trial in Bhopal," said Krishnaveni
Gundu, ICJB's coordinator in USA.
"Precedents for extradition from
the US, as of former Nazi John Demjanjuk's extradition to Israel in
the 1980s came about only because of an extensive international
public campaign demanding justice," added Casey Harrell of
Greenpeace USA which is part of ICJB.

The request for Anderson's extradition has come after three years of
intense pressure on the Indian Government by survivors
organisations in Bhopal, their supporters worldwide and the court of
the Chief Judicial Magistrate in Bhopal. Last July, two women
survivors and a long-time Bhopal activist went on a 19-day fast,
supported by more than 1500 hunger strikers worldwide, to reverse
a request by the Indian Government to dilute criminal charges
against Warren Anderson.

The hunger strike was coupled with protests outside Indian
embassies in several countries, including the United Kingdom, the
US and South Africa. On May 12, 2003, Bhopal survivors and their
supporters demonstrated outside the Indian embassy in
Washington, D.C. to press their demands for extradition.

Anderson and Union Carbide Corporation [UCC] stand accused of
manslaughter, grievous assault, poisoning and killing of animals and
other serious offences. In 2002, documents unearthed in the
process of a class action suit against Anderson and Union Carbide
in New York revealed that not only did UCC knowingly export
untested and hazardous technology to Bhopal, but also this
decision was authorised personally by Anderson. "Criminal trial of
corporate CEOs is not merely a necessary legal measure for
justice in Bhopal. It is an essential prerequisite for tackling the
growing crisis of corporate crime," said Raj Sharma attorney
representing the survivors in the class action suit.

In 1992, the Bhopal court declared Warren Anderson a fugitive from
justice, after he ignored summons issued by the Bhopal court to
appear in the criminal case. Anderson remained in hiding for 10
years till Greenpeace and Daily Mirror traced his whereabouts in
July 2002, to an up market neighborhood in Bridgehampton, New
York. The man accused of contributing to the world's worst
industrial disaster was living a life of luxury with monthly golf bills
exceeding four times the compensation received by most Bhopal
victims.

The Bhopal disaster of December 3, 1984, poisoned nearly 500,000
people and killed more than 8,000 people in its immediate
aftermath. Union Carbide fled the country after paying a pittance in
damages between $500 and $2000 per victim for lifelong injury or
death and leaving behind thousands of tons of toxic wastes and an
unresolved legal inquiry into Carbide's criminal liabilities. In
February 2001, Midland, Michigan-based The Dow Chemical
Company acquired Union Carbide as a 100 percent subsidiary.
However, Dow has refused to accept Carbide's Bhopal liabilities.
On May 8, 2003, Dow Chairman William Stavropoulos lied to his
shareholders stating that Union Carbide faced no criminal charges
in Bhopal.

In a strongly worded letter to the Indian Prime Minister, the ICJB and
Bhopal survivors' organisations have demanded that "The Government
should take immediate steps to bring Accused No. 10, Union
Carbide Corporation, to face trial and include Dow Chemical, its
new owner, as an accused in the criminal case."

Signed/
Mrs. Rashida Bee, Mrs. Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
Satinath Sarangi, Bhopal Group for Information and Action

For more information, contact:
1. Satinath Sarangi, ICJB (Bhopal): +91 755 743157. Email:
sambavna@sancharnet.in

2. Krishnaveni Gundu, ICJB (US): +1 832 444 1731 (cell)
Email: krishnaveni_g@sbcglobal.net

3. Tim Edwards, ICJB (UK): +44 7815172148 (cell)
Email: tim@lifecycle.demon.co.uk