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Dow Board of Directors

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Dow’s Board of Directors is its ultimate decision-making body, and Dow Board members should be held accountable for the ongoing contamination of tens of thousands of Bhopal residents. If a Dow Board member lives nearby or has close ties with your university, they should be told - repeatedly and creatively - to end the chemical terror in Bhopal.

Why the Board of Directors? Action Ideas
How it Makes a Difference Resources
Campaign Outline Targeting Dow's Decision-Makers


Why the Board of Directors?

As in any company, Dow’s Board of Directors is where the buck stops. They hold ultimate decision-making authority over the entire company and everything it does.

Do YOU live near a Dow Board Member?

They’re personally responsible for the decisions Dow has made:

..........• to purchase Union Carbide and assume its liabilities
..........• to allow Carbide to flee from criminal charges of “culpable homicide” (manslaughter) in Bhopal, which 18 members of the US Congress described as a “blatant disregard for the law”
..........• to ignore the chemical wasteland Carbide left behind in Bhopal, which continues to contaminate and kill those near it, in violation of India’s Polluter Pays laws
..........• to keep secret much of its medical information about the health effects of the leaked gases - information that doctors could use to save lives - claiming it as a “trade secret”
..........• to sue Bhopal survivors for a peaceful protest in 2002

That they have done so and can still (apparently) sleep at night implies two things:
..........1. That they are morally destitute
..........2. That they are not accustomed to being held accountable for their decisions

Most likely, it’s a little bit of both. And while we cannot restore their morality, we can hold them accountable for the decisions they’ve made – and can make.

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How It Makes A Difference

Dow’s Boardmembers, quite frankly, live in a bubble. It’s a comfortable existence of quiet neighbors, palatial estates, and five-star restaurants. They’re able to enjoy their status among the wealthy and the powerful free from irritations and inconveniences, safely sheltered from the implications of the decisions they’ve made. It’s a happy life. So you can imagine their irritation when one of their decisions follows them home. In the past Dow

Liar 'Pants on Fire' Stavropoulos (touch him and see his bloomers blaze)

Boardmembers have expressed their outrage – OUTRAGE! – at the unwanted intrusion of Bhopal into their daily lives; others, acute embarrassment; most often, they’ve simply fled our approach. By targeting Dow’s Board of Directors - its ultimate decision-makers - we intend to bring Bhopal ‘home’ to Dow. By making Bhopal a factor in their daily lives – if possible, a moral imperative; if not, a daily irritation – we intend to make Bhopal impossible to ignore, an issue that must be dealt with. Dow’s Board of Directors has a great deal of power:

  • They can order a comprehensive cleanup of their chemical waste in Bhopal, ending the contamination of tens of thousands;
  • They can obey the law by submitting their fully-owned subsidiary, Union Carbide, for trial in Bhopal;
  • They can save lives by funding medical care for those poisoned by their chemical waste

By targeting the members of Dow’s Board, you can remind them of this power – and force them to use it.

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Campaign Outline

Vision
The members of Dow’s Board of Directors are persuaded – through conscience or inconvenience – to support our demands for justice in Bhopal.

Goals
..........1. To issue our demands directly to Dow’s ultimate decision-makers
..........2. To ensure that Bhopal is impossible for the members of Dow’s Board to ignore

Strategies
..........1. Confront Dow’s Boardmembers with the implications of their refusal to accept responsibility for Bhopal.
..........2. Ensure that Bhopal is an inconvenience in their daily lives

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Action Ideas

Request a Meeting
If you’re lucky, they may agree. Both Jackie Barton and Harold Shapiro have sat down with students to discuss the Bhopal disaster; arranging a similar meeting would allow you to present ICJB’s demands to them directly and to see what they say. Such conversations can often be deeply revealing, and you may come away with a better understanding of their frame of mind and how it can be influenced.

Make a Delivery
Present them with a list of demands, a jhadoo, a sample of Bhopal water, or the photo of a Bhopal victim. Hold a candlelight vigil or a protest outside their house if they refuse to meet with you, and invite the media.

Know Thy Neighbor
There are few deeds so dark as slowly poisoning a person to death. Perhaps their neighbors should be made aware of the darkness in their midst. Organize a group of supporters to canvass the neighborhood, talk with residents about Bhopal, and answer their questions about Dow’s responsibility for ongoing chemical terror.

Blood Money
Deliver some creatively designed “blood money” to Dow Boardmembers to symbolize their continuing profits at the expense of human lives. Or plaster the sidewalk out front with their dirty dollars.

Present Dow with an "Award"
Give Dow Boardmembers an “award” for their infamous legacy in Bhopal. The award can be as fancy as a plaque or as easy as a certificate made from construction paper. Or, present a Pinocchio nose to congratulate Dow on their lie-ability.

Bloody Handprints
Build a toxic waste drum out of chicken wire and paper mache (if you can’t find a real one), paint it white (red for Dow’s symbol) and then plant it in a major thoroughfare. As people pass through, you can ask them to leave their bloody handprints in red fingerpaint. Then deliver it to the home of a Dow Boardmember. The same can also be done with a large cloth banner.

At Brown University

Chalkings
Get a couple buckets of sidewalk chalk and the neighborhood of the Dow Boardmember near you. Chalking is cheap, fun, creative, and effective. It’s pretty harmless and if you do it late at night, you’ll avoid scrutiny. One possibility: sketch body outlines and write the names of Bhopal victims inside, or Bhopal slogans.

Leaking Barrels
Dramatize the gas leak with toxic waste barrels and foaming dry ice. Makes a great spectacle!

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Resources

..........Request a jhadoo or sample of Bhopal water
..........Survivor testimonials
..........Partial list of dead & injured
..........Bhopal poetry
..........• Amnesty International report: Clouds of Injustice
..........In-depth background information
..........List of Bhopal slogans
..........Bhopal graphics
..........Handouts and fact sheets about Bhopal
..........Draft Media Advisory/Press Release
..........Bhopal Posters
..........Order a plaque online for as little as $40
..........Draft advertising poster
..........• Draft Bhopal Quartersheets: One & Two
..........Understand your rights

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Targeting Dow’s Decision-Makers
By Ryan Bodanyi

Over the past three years, students have made it difficult for Dow’s decision-makers to ignore Bhopal, much as they might like to. In fact our efforts have shown how much power even a few students can have when they bring Bhopal ‘home’ to Dow.

In Mr. Parker's Neighborhood

On Bhopal’s 18th anniversary, Dec. 3rd, 2002, students organized their first protest targeting a Dow executive. More than a dozen students from the University of Michigan traveled to Midland, Dow’s headquarters, to protest outside the home of Dow’s then-CEO, Michael Parker. Dow was forewarned of the trip and we expected to find a darkened and empty house. You can imagine our surprise when, quite the contrary, we found that Michael Parker was hosting a full-blown party on the night of the Bhopal Anniversary. Fancy cars lined the streets and the laughter inside could be heard clearly throughout the Parker estate. Was this the way that Dow’s CEO chose to commemorate the world’s worst-ever industrial disaster, for which his company was now liable? It boggled the mind.

Lugging our vigil candles, Bhopal banners, tombstones and posters to the door, we were doubly surprised when he came out himself to meet us. We shouldn’t have been; Parker had long cultivated a reputation as a smooth talker, able to disarm activists with his friendly recital of Dow’s PR talking points. It was a skill he’d used often before, and he may have relished the thought of doing so now, before the television camera crews on his front lawn. Whatever his intentions may have been, things didn’t work out as he’d planned. The laughter and tinkling of glasses from the party behind him made his professions of sympathy sound foolish and hollow, and our rapid-fire questions put him off guard. The liquor we smelled on his breath may also have been a factor; before long, we could tell that he was ready to snap. He did so when a small protestor at his shoulder pointed out that the Polluter Pays principle was the law in India, and that Dow should follow the law. “That’s your OPINION!” he shouted into her face, towering above her. On video, it didn’t look good.

Nine days later, Michael Parker was forced to resign as Dow’s CEO. In its statement, Dow explained that the move had been made for “financial” reasons.

Outside the home of James Ringler

“That worked so well,” we thought, “let’s try it again!” For the 19th anniversary of the disaster, we decided to deliver samples of contaminated water from Bhopal direct to the doors of Dow Boardmembers across the country. After what had happened last year, they were expecting us. At the time Dow’s Board included a former Senator and Secretary of Commerce, a MacArthur “genius” award-winner, the former President of Princeton University, and the CEOs of several major American corporations. These powerful, influential, and important people had a decision to make: they could attempt to repeat Michael Parker’s failed performance by appearing at the door to talk about Bhopal or – faced with a few students, a sample of Bhopal water, and a just cause – they could flee in fear. Can you guess which option they chose?

Yep, they chose to flee. Students across the country found darkened homes with the shades drawn tight – if any members of the Board were home, it certainly seemed like they were under the bed. In fact, students were only successful in speaking with one of Dow’s 14 Boardmembers – Harold Shapiro, the former President of Princeton University. Conveniently enough, he’d scheduled a public speech for the day before the anniversary – and it was on bioethics. After the talk several Princeton students presented him with his sample of contaminated water from Bhopal. He was not happy.

Feel like getting in on the fun? You, too, can make Dow’s Boardmembers unhappy by reminding them of their ability – and responsibility – to end the killing in Bhopal.

Questions? Email Ryan!

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The international student campaign to hold Dow accountable for Bhopal, and its other toxic legacies around the world.
For more information about the campaign, or for problems regarding this website, contact
Shana Ortman, the US Coordinator for the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.
Last updated: May 1, 2008

WE ALL LIVE IN BHOPAL

"The year 2003 was a special year in the history of the campaign for justice in Bhopal. It was the year when student and youth supporters from at least 30 campuses in the US and India took action against Dow Chemical or in support of the demands of the Bhopal survivors. As we enter the 20th year of the unfolding Bhopal disaster, we can, with your support, convey to Dow Chemical that the fight for justice in Bhopal is getting stronger and will continue till justice is done. We look forward to your continued support and good wishes, and hope that our joint struggle will pave the way for a just world free of the abuse of corporate power."

Signed/ Rasheeda Bi, Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Affected Women Stationery Employees Union
International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal