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We Feel Responsible, Chennai

Boycotting the Indian Oil Corp

Bhopal Survivors, Van Drivers, Motorocyclists Launch Boycott of Indian Oil
No Red Carpet to Killer Carbide, IOC told

Chennai, 27 May 2005: International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal and its supporters today launched a nation wide boycott of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) until the company abandons plans to do business with Union Carbide or its new owner Dow Chemical. Shahid Noor, an orphan from the Bhopal disaster, who now leads an organisation of 19 Bhopal disaster orphans, arrived in town to announce the boycott. “We requested Indian Oil, the Ministry of Petroleum, the Ministry of Chemicals and various other Government bodies. Like before, all these people are more interested in business than justice for the Bhopal survivors. We have been betrayed by various Governments before. But we didn’t think Indian Oil or the Government of India will actually contemplate business with the killers of Bhopal,” he said.

On 28 May, Noor will lead a demonstration in Petroleum minister’s constituency protesting against Mani Shankar Aiyar’s failure to cancel the deal and blacklist Dow Chemical. On 29 May, Noor will flag off a motorcycle rally from Mayiladuthurai to Chennai by the Madras Bulls, a Chennai-based club of “Bullet” or “Royal Enfield” enthusiasts. Tamilnadu All Drivers Welfare Association, with more than 7000 members, and “We Feel Responsible” – a Chennai-based youth group – are also joining the ICJB in launching the boycott. ICJB volunteers in Delhi, Bhopal, Mumbai and Trivandrum have indicated that they will be announcing boycotts in their cities in the second phase. Autorickshaw, taxi and mini van drivers have promised their support.

Union Carbide is charged with culpable homicide in the Bhopal magistrate’s court for its role in the Bhopal disaster. In February 1992, the company was proclaimed an absconder by the Magistrate after it repeatedly failed to honour summons issued by the court. In January 2005, the Magistrate ordered that summons be issued to Dow Chemical, asking the parent company to produce Union Carbide in Court. Dow maintains that it does not recognise the Indian court’s criminal jurisdiction over Carbide.

Indian Oil has approved a technology purchase agreement with Dow Chemical to source Union Carbide’s technology for the Mono Ethylene Glycol unit at its upcoming Naptha refinery in Panipat, Haryana.

Because Union Carbide is an absconder, the Indian Government is obliged to arrest it and produce it in court if it enters India for any reason. “We are appalled by Indian Oil’s proposal to do business with Carbide. It’s like rewarding a criminal accused of murder with a lucrative business deal. As motorists and consumers of Indian Oil products, we’ll encourage our other friends to boycott IOC till the company abandons this deal with Dow-Carbide,” said Jaychandran, a member of the Madras Bulls.

Other supporters include the Corporate Accountability Desk, Human Rights Tamilnadu Initiative, and Mayiladuthurai-based Thamizhar Urimai Iyakkam, Penn Thozhilargal Sangam, Thanthai Periyar Kazhagam and Tamil Meenavar Munitra Sangam.

Read more in Sify!

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Protesting the Petroleum Minister

We had a successful rally and demonstration today in Mayiladuthurai. At least 75 youth and children braved the heat and oppressive humidity with irrepressible vigour and enthusiastic slogan shouting that would have soured Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar's mood. The rally went through important streets of his home constituency. Mayiladuthurai is the town that elected him. Nearly 30 young ones, many of them without footwear, waved their placards bearing a cartoon of Aiyar bearing Warren Anderson on his back, everytime they heard the slogan: "Is this justice? Is this justice? Mani Shankar MP carries Bhopal murderer Anderson on his shoulders. Is this justice? Is this justice?"

The rally ended on the busy No.2 Road in Mayiladuthurai, where supporters of the Bhopal campaign stopped buses and lorries and pasted stickers exhorting people to join the boycott of Indian Oil. Led by the Thamizhar Urimai Iyakkam (Organisation for Tamil's Rights) and Thanthai Periyar Dravida Kazhagam, the gathering resolved to intensify the struggle in the coming weeks. Failing a favourable response -- announcing the cancellation of the Indian Oil-Dow business deal -- Mayiladuthurai activists have decided to launch a massive awareness campaign to educate the constituency about Aiyar's role in bringing the criminal Union Carbide back into India.

The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal has received a positive response from organisations working with Muslims and Dalits in Mayiladuthurai. The organisations have assured ICJB that they will do all that is in their power to ensure that Aiyar does not sell out on the Bhopalis. Muslims constitute 22 percent of the total population in this electoral constituency. Along with Dalits, they form the foundation for Aiyar's election successes.

Autorickshaw Drivers Association (Mayiladuthurai) too participated in the rally, and have promised their support in boycotting IOC. The Auto Drivers have prominently featured the Bhopal campaign and the Dow-IOC deal in their literary magazine -- Kaalan (Mushroom) dated December 2004.

In an hour, the Bhopalis take to the streets. In 3 hours, four motorcyclists will arrive in Mayiladuthurai from Chennai in their swank Royal Enfield "Bullet" bikes. The bikers, who are part of a Bullet enthusiasts club called "Madras Bulls", have extended their solidarity to the Boycott IOC campaign by offering to advertise it through a bike rally from Mayiladuthurai to Chennai on 29 May. En route, the rally will halt at SIPCOT Industrial Estate in Cuddalore, where it will be greeted by residents of the pollution-impacted community with coconuts and petitions to be delivered to IOC. The "Bulls" will also halt at Pudu Nemmelikuppam, near the tourist town of Mahabalipuram, where local fisherfolk wish to greet them and hand over signed petitions addressed to Indian Oil.

"This is merely the beginning. This boycott will take the classic route of gradual build-up. If Indian Oil heeds our warning, it can save itself a lot of bad publicity and considerable amounts of money. There are other companies besides Dow Chemical that offer the same technology. We will not allow Indian Oil to do business with a killer company. That's our final word," said Shweta Narayan, a volunteer with ICJB who's based in Chennai.

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"Run/Walk for Life" Marks Bhopal Anniversary



On December 3rd, 2005, the 21st anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, “We Feel Responsible” and other Bhopal supporters in Chennai hosted a “Run For Life” and candle-light vigil in memory of Bhopal and the slow-motion Bhopals in their own community.

Schools, friends and local residents were invited to participate in the event, which included the performance of a street play and ended with a poignant candle-light vigil at the Elliots Beach.

The run covered an area of about 5kms, snaking its way along the beach in Besant Nagar - a very popular coastal locality in city of Chennai and a weekend crowd puller. The theme revolved around the relevance of the Bhopal Gas Disaster to our lives today; the general need for a safe environment and greater corporate accountability in our corporate-ruled lives; and Chennai’s own slow-motion Bhopals, including Chemplast and Malco’s factory complexes in Mettur, the SIPCOT Industrial Estate in Cuddalore, the Ennore-Manali Petrochemical belt, Sterlite’s illegal copper smelter in Tuticorin, Orchid Chemical’s death factory in Alathur, the dyeing units in Tirupur, and Hindustan Lever’s mercury waste dumps in Kodaikanal. In all these cases the Government’s reluctance to crack-down on polluters is threatening workers, communities and the environment.

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Meeting the Governor of Tamil Nadu in Support of the March to Delhi

On March 10, 2006, seven members of the Chennai based youth collective We Feel Responsible met the Governor of Tamil Nadu, Mr. Surjit Singh Barnala. In a brief conversation which lasted about 15 minutes he was briefed about the March to Delhi, the present situation in Bhopal and the purpose of our meeting with him.

We told him about the significance of the march and our stand on the issue as youth. He seemed pretty unperturbed and when we were briefing him about the demands he started with a story about him at the time of the disaster. He was at a jail “under arrest” (he did not tell us for what but I did some online search and am assuming that it was due to the Sikh Riots that ensued the assassination of Indira Gandhi in October1984) about 60kms from ground zero and he said he smelt something strange in the air and told the jailor about it but none of them realized until later that it was the gas from Union Carbide.

On the issue of compensation and health he said that UCC had already paid a heavy sum as compensation immediately and also built the best hospital in Madhya Pradesh. He appreciated our effort that went into the signature campaign for the petition to the Prime Minister and suggested that we present the banner with signatures to the PM directly as he was sure that it would not reach him if sent through him. He refused to sign on the petition.

We presented him some literature on Bhopal and a copy of ‘Closer to Reality’ a Bhopal film by the Delhi based youth group, We for Bhopal. He wished us all the best in our endeavor and promised to forward the petition to the Prime Minister.

A seven-member delegation including Anthony, Harini, Saravanan, Someetharan, Senthil, Seena and Dharmesh presented the petition.

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Beach Performances and Support for the Bhopal Padayatra

On March 9, 2006, nearly a dozen children (12 years and under) began daily performances of a street play on pollution at the popular and well-trafficked Besant Nagar beach. The five-minute play talks about the sorry condition of the beach and the sea, and links it to the Bhopal padayatra and the incident through a commentary. At the end of the play, we request people to sign a banner in support of the March to Delhi. This banner will be sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

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Solidarity Hungerstrike for Indefinite Fasters in Delhi

On April 11, 2006, supporters from Chennai held a day-long solidarity fast for Bhopal at the Valluvar Kottam junction in central Chennai. There were more than 50 participants mostly women belonging to Tamil Nadu Women’s Collective and Tamil Nadu Women’s Federation, other groups included Tamil Nadu Human Rights Initiative, International Presentation Association of India, Alliance of Peoples Movements, We Feel Responsible, Students Federation of India, Communist Party of India and a group working with people displaced by the Neyveli Lignite Corporation of India.

The day of the fast began at 10am an hour late from the announced time (IST = Indian Stretchable Time). The place allotted to us was a deplorable, the road adjoining the side walk was under construction, terrible traffic, no trees and an Onyx garbage dump across the road which emitted a constant smell of putrid compost. This place is like the Jantar Mantar of Chennai, allotted for protests against soiled government practices. The first people to reach the site were Karen, Shweta and I we set up the place and began the fast, we chose a place closest to the traffic for maximum visibility. This location however wasn’t ideal because there was no shade but we decided to stick to it.

By around 11am the crowd of supporters began trickling in and the participants from the womens groups joined us by noon. The sun at this time was egg fryable hot and there was no way anyone could continue the dharna so we had to organize for a Pandal (a cloth shade). We now had shade and warm water.. by now the pangs of hunger set in and to make matter worse we were faced by three life size billboards of a restaurant, a cold beverage and an air conditioner.

This stopped bothering us after a while because the rising mercury and the sporadic puffs of wind that blew clouds of dust on us camouflaged our other concerns.

There was a decent press coverage we had two national news agencies PTI and UNI two state news channels Jaya TV and WIN TV, two national dailies The Hindu and Deccan Chronicle and two local dailies Dina Malar and News Today. The press coverage was a major consolation for obvious reasons.

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Chennaites Launch a Photo Exhibition in Solidarity with Bhopal March

Chennai 8th April 2006: The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB), an international coalition of organizations and individuals working towards achieving justice for the victims and survivors of the 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy, today launched a photo exhibition at the Alliance Francaise of Madras. The exhibition featured photographs from the 800 km long march that the survivors embarked upon from Bhopal to Delhi. A music video by The Banned titled ‘No More Bhopal’ and a documentary on Union Carbide’s repeated efforts to evade justice was screened. The march was taken up by 150 survivors of the tragedy with the single aim of meeting the Prime Minister and resolving their long pending demands.

Three Padma Shri award winners from Chennai, Ms. Chitra Vishweswaran, Ms. Leela Samson, Ms. Malavika Sarukkai and danseuse/actress Ms. Anita Ratam were also present on the occasion. They presented letters in support of the survivors to the Prime Minister urging him to deliver justice immediately to the 22 year long struggle. A large number of youth from Chennai also attended the exhibition.

The exhibition will also be held at Spencer Plaza on April 9th from 4pm to 6pm and again at Alliance Francaise from April 10 to14. The supporters from Tamil Nadu will hold a fast on the April 12 as part of the global relay fast in support of the indefinite hunger strike to be launched by the Bhopalis in Delhi.

The exhibition that aims to gather support for Bhopal from Tamil Nadu was also to educate citizens on impending Bhopals in the state which remains one of India’s three most toxic hotspots.

Dharmesh writes:

We had an excellent photo exhibition at the Alliance Francaise of Madras, the French cultural center in Chennai. It was attended by about 100 – 150 supporters including two celebrity guests, Ms. Anita Ratnam and Padma Shri Ms. Leela Samson. The exhibit was a display of photographs from the march by Maude and Michael and a few Raghu Rai’s. The exhibit was followed by a music video and a film screening for an audience of 50. The music video ‘No More Bhopals’ by The Banned and the ABC documentary ‘Hunting for Warren Anderson’ evoked an excellent response and very strong emotions.

The exhibition also had a good media response, 3 national newspapers (The Hindu, The Indian Express and Economic Times), a national news agency (PTI), and a national news channel (CNN-IBN) were among the ones present. Two of the four celebrity supporters have endorsed the campaign and given us their letters of support to the PM. The exhibition will be held at a very popular local mall called Spencer Plaza and then be back to Alliance for another four days from the 10th – 14th.

Radio Mirchi will announce the exhibition for all the four days and Southern Spice a popular south Indian music channel will air the ‘No More Bhopals’ video next week.

Another update from Dharmesh, entitled “A day at the mall”:

The Bhopal march exhibit went to a popular local mall today and in just 3 hours it had more than 500 normal and 1 capitalist American visitors. The mall served as an excellent location as it is one of the very few hangouts in the city. The activities included pamphleteering and petition signing and we were given the center atrium in the 1st Phase of the mall which was a great advantage. The crowd was a mix of students, families, youth, foreigners and senior citizens. The display induced a lot of curiosity from first timers and from people following the issue. The mall was a totally new experience for all of us and it worked out really well.

The exhibit will be back at Alliance Franciase from tomorrow and for the next four days.

Story of the Capitalist American:

Half way into the exhibit we had a physically endowed American visitor with strong capitalist ideologies. He began a conversation with Naveen and me about our approach to the issue he felt that we did not know our enemy and that we were shooting in the dark, we did not know the real owners of Dow. According to him such campaigns in the US are more successful because campaigners there know their enemies and do their homework. You need to investigate enough on the links of the company and nail down the people in India who were in bed with the company. He felt that we were just maligning a big MNC and all other companies in similar businesses and endangering thousands of jobs by doing such outreach. Not all corporates are bad; neither are all pesticides.

All our explanations about the disaster and its politics were inadequate to convince him, we told him that the people at the heart of the struggle did know their enemy and that his inadequate knowledge about the issue made him pass such comments. We told him about Warren Anderson and his status in the Indian law and that if he was really concerned about our approach he should get in touch with one of our Bhopal campaigns in America and visit .net to get his teeth into the issue and then advice on a better approach. “We Americans do not have time to browse” he said “but please learn what you teach Bhopal was not an accident it was an act of sabotage, it was intentional, it was ordered by someone on the top and you need to identify that person and not malign the whole industry (sounded like a Dow guy). This is when we lost hope of intelligence in the conversation, he was a smart guy but just very block headed about the issue.

Just then two more people joined the conversation, Shweta and Aniruddh, they launched a verbal assault:

Aniruddh: We will continue to be your dump
Fat American: I live here, I like the place
Aniruddh: Welcome to the oriental retreat please enjoy your stay and dump your shit here

..and our buddy was out of there in a tizzy, his parting comeback was:

Fat American: It’s because of us that your asses even drive cars and -
Dharmesh: Thanks for saving the world

We thought that was the last we would see of him until we spotted him at Subway on our way out and we could just laugh at the situation and the man.

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1000 Bhopals Exhibition

From April 9-21, 2007, Community Environmental Monitoring in Chennai hosted "1000 Bhopals – A photo exhibit of pollution impacted places in India" (special focus – Tamil Nadu) at Alliance Francaise of Madras.

“The photo exhibition primarily focuses on chemical pollution and its impact on human and environmental health and aims at raising awareness of the general public about the consumption of chemicals and its impact on the future generations and on people who share their backyards with facilities that make such chemicals. Though the exhibit displays images of Endosulphan poisoning in Kasargod, Kerala and chemical pollution from the Golden Corridor in Gujarat, the main focus is on Tamilnadu where places like Cuddalore, Mettur, Manali and Chengelpattu are severely impacted by industrial pollution.

“The Bhopal Gas Disaster of 1984 was not an accident. It was the result of systematic neglect by the Government and industry. Twenty-three years after this disaster, no lessons have been learnt. The environment, workers and communities living next to the industries face the same threats that caused the Bhopal Gas Disaster.

“The neglect that plagued Union Carbide's factory in Bhopal, plagues several toxic hotspots in Mettur, Cuddalore, Kodungaiyur, Ennore, Manali, Tuticorin, Alathur, Kodaikanal and Tiruppur -- all in Tamil Nadu. . .all slow-motion Bhopals.”

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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: April 30, 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