Bodanyi, one of the student organisers, writes:
visit, organized by students at the University of Michigan to commemorate
the anniversary of the Bhopal tragedy, interrupted a lavish Christmas
party at the Parker home. Although the vigil candles, Bhopal banners,
tombstones, Parker "Wanted Posters" and other props didn't
seem to distract the gleeful party goers, Michael Parker did step
outside and debate the activists for approximately twenty minutes.
The entire event was videotaped and a local news station also filmed
the action and broadcast it on the 11 p.m. news.
Parker emphasized to the group that he remembered the exact day
on which the tragedy took place, and that he and others in the chemical
industry were deeply sympathetic to the plight of the victims in
Bhopal. However when the activists offered to buy him a plane ticket
to go to India to meet with the survivors and those still suffering,
he refused. When asked why, he replied, "there are a lot of
things that I have to do."
activists made it clear to Mr. Parker that we hold him personally
responsible for cleaning up Bhopal. Shivani Anil Patel, a student
from AID, attempted to give Mr. Parker a list of demands (including
that Dow clean up the site and properly compensate the victims),
but he refused to accept them. Mr. Parker continued to deny all
responsibility for cleaning up Bhopal, and told the activists that
he had no legal responsibility "whatsoever" to do so.
When Mr. Parker was reminded that courts both in the United States
and India were still considering the case, he assured everyone that
they would not decide against his company.
Parker made clear to the activists that he had "interfaced"
with several of the victims from Bhopal and lamented the poverty
that could be found throughout all of India. Jackie Downing, an
activist from Greenpeace, interrupted Mr. Parker to point out that
while Dow might not be responsible for all the poverty in all of
India, it was Dow's responsibility to clean up its mess in Bhopal.
"The polluter pays," she told him. "That's your opinion,"
he fired back.
his dinner guests, Mr. Parker warned the group at several points
that there would be consequences for making the issue personal and
coming to his home. He told us to "consider very carefully"
whether such a strategy might, in fact, achieve the exact opposite
of what we intended.
spokesman John Musser later told the University of Michigan's student
newspaper that the visit was "pushing the limits" and
represented an attempt to intimidate Mr. Parker.
leaving the group, Mr. Parker told us how much he respected us for
coming out on such a cold evening. He confirmed that we had "the
best of intentions" and thanked us for our caring and concern.
He then stepped inside and rejoined his Christmas party.
visit to Midland energized all of us to continue working for justice
in Bhopal; we were proud to stand in solidarity with those who have
been fighting for justice in India and elsewhere throughout the