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Who We Are

Students for Bhopal
SfB India
International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal
Questions? Contact Shana Ortman, the Coordinator of SfB, at (415) 981-6205 ext. 355

Students for Bhopal

Our Mission Statement
Students for Bhopal is an international network of students and supporters working in solidarity with the survivors of the Bhopal disaster in their struggle for justice. As a part of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB), we use education, grassroots organizing and non-violent direct action to pressure Dow Chemical and the Indian Government to uphold the Bhopalis' demand for justice, and their fundamental human right to live free of chemical poison. SfB also works directly to improve the condition of Bhopal's survivors. Our role is to empower and train youth as leaders in the worldwide movement to end this crime against humanity. We all live in Bhopal and we will not rest without justice in Bhopal!

Students for Bhopal is supported by chapters of the Association for India's Development, Amnesty International, Sierra Student Coalition, SEAC, and the Campus Greens.

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Shana Blustein Ortman
US Coordinator, International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal; SfB Advisory Board Member

Shana is a very excited new member of the Advisory Board.  She has worked on social and environmental justice for the past 10 years, and she is extremely moved and inspired by the struggle for Justice in Bhopal.  Before becoming the US Coordinator for ICJB in April 2008, she spent nearly four years at ForestEthics, where she was the Lead Organizer on the Paper Campaign.  Her work focused on leadership development and creating grassroots organizing for a campaign that is transforming the catalog industry and protecting Endangered Forests; most notably, in 2006, they won the Victoria's Dirty Secret campaign, a three year campaign that included over 750 grassroots actions across North America.  Shana got her B.A. in Humanities, with a focus on Children's Literature and Social Change from New College of California in 2005.  She also spent two years studying Anthropology at Grinnell College, where she was very involved with student activism for environmental justice and human rights.  She is so excited to work on the campaign for justice in Bhopal and to learn from all of you wonderful people who fight for this movement.

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Aquene Freechild
US Strategy Coordinator, International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal; SfB Advisory Board Member

Dow and the Indian Government know her variously as "The Terminator " and "The Nemesis." Her next door neighbors know her as "The Aquene next door." We know her not as a flower, but as a flame: a brilliant beacon, driving away the darkness, infusing herself and her spirit into the campaign and inspiring all of us.

When she's not breeding prizewinning oysters or cooking '30 Minute Brownies' in 20 minutes, Aquene helps coordinate the Boston Coalition for Justice in Bhopal, which includes members of the Association for India's Development, Amnesty International, the Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia, and Boston-area student groups. Among other initiatives, the Boston Coalition helped organize a 1500-student protest outside the Indian consulate in New York, demanding justice for Bhopal.

Aquene is a graduate of University of Wisconsin-Madison. There she organized multicultural events for two years with Wisconsin Union Directorate, and also co-founded and coordinated WISPIRG's Big Red, Go Green campus energy campaign. [Email Aquene]

Why do you believe in justice for Bhopal?
“Why do I believe in humanity at all? Why do I smile when a child smiles at me? If you believe there is beauty worth preserving in people, then one must fight for justice and for life. Why Bhopal? If history is a series of stories - Bhopal is a symbol that will not easily be forgotten and will guide human behavior within corporations and governments for a long time. If one must pick a big fight for justice, why not pick one in which the ‘victims’ are driving the fight, inspiring each other, and us, and building hope for other oppressed people who can see that it is people’s energy, passion, love and commitment to what is right that makes the world change, not just corporate brands and realpolitik.”

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Pragya Bhagat
Austin Association for India's Development; SfB Advisory Board Member

Pragya Bhagat is a volunteer of the AID Austin chapter, and the coordinator of the Bhopal campaign in Austin. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin (hook 'em!) with a degree in Biology. After graduation, Pragya spent 6 months volunteering at the Sambhavna Clinic in Bhopal, where her interest in the campaign grew. She currently teaches science to hormonal sixth graders at KIPP: Austin College Prep.

Why do you believe in justice for Bhopal?

"Ladenge! Jeetenge! We will fight! We will win!"

It is not just a slogan, it is a fact of life for the hundreds of thousands of individuals who have been affected by what happened in Bhopal twenty-two years ago. People in Bhopal, in India, in the world- we all believe that the murder of so many men, women, and children is inexcusable.
1984: It was the year I was born in, and I am constantly reminded of how long it has been whenever I think of my age. It is not just a number, but a time-bomb. With every passing month, more people succumb to cancer and more deformed children are born...that is, if they are not strangled in their mother's womb by Carbide's poisons.

I believe in justice for Bhopal because it provides me with hope. A vision of victory for the Bhopalis is the only thing that keeps the fight alive. Justice can never come if one does not believe that it is possible. I do.

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Tony Millard
SfB Advisory Board Member

Tony graduated from the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism in 2006, and he is currently working as a producer, writer and editor for an XM satellite medical radio station called ReachMD. In his first year on the AB, he helped to coordinate our extensive media campaign throughout the entire 2008 Padyatra, which included frequent press releases and outreach to news and information outlets across a variety of mediums throughout the United States.

Having volunteered at the Sambhavna Clinic in Bhopal for most of a year spanning parts of 2006 and 2007, he hasa firm, first-hand perspective of the situation on the ground in Bhopal. From Sambhavna to the dilapidated factory, to Oriya Basti and Hamidia Hospital, to the oft-protested home of the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh in Shamla Hills, his knowledge of Bhopal is a benefit to our strategizing and planning actions here in the United States. This applies particularly from the standpoint of communicating to others the extent of the devastation across Bhopal, but more importantly, the spirit of the Bhopalis who continue to fight for Justice.

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Diana Katgara
SfB Advisory Board Member

Diana had the chance to spend some time in Bhopal and get to know a number of people there. These people who are strong, brillliant, loving, creative, inspirational, funny, musical, articulate, insightful, caring, full of hope and who will never ever give up fighting for justice for themselves and fighting to ensure that what has happened to Bhopalis doesn't happen to others have become an important part of her life.

The grave injustices that have happened and continue to happen in Bhopal are unacceptable. From December 3rd, 1984 onwards Bhopalies have witnessed the horrors of losing their loved ones and continue to be lied to and cheated out of effective health care, clean water, safety against deadly poisons, the ability to earn, the right not to have to feed babies contaminated breast milk, just to name a few things. And yet, they continue to have hope and love and show care to eachother and those of us who ask if we can stand alongside them. They continue to have hope and trust that the world will not let this injustice continue.

Over the last year and a half she hasseen the creative and meaningful ways that the SfB has supported the Bhopal Campaign in the US and she thinks it would be great to bring some of that over to Canada.

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Yogesh Simmhan
SfB Advisory Board Member

Yogesh brings his passion for justice to the Advisory Board--he hopes to improve the lives of Bhopalis, and fight corporate greed and government apathy. Co-founder of AID at the University of Illinois, Bloomington, Yogesh organized all Bhopal-related events at his university from 2003-2007 including vigils, protests, panel discussions with Ryan Bodyani and Rajan Sharma, and a Bhopal photo exhibit. Additionally, he has worked with Amnesty International in picketing a talk by Dow CEO Andrew Liveris in Indianapolis.   In 2006 he helped host the Students for Bhopal conference in Bloomington. Yogesh has experience in letter writing, media management, and event organizing. He sees the approaching 25 th anniversary of the gas tragedy as an important opportunity: "The looming 25 th  anniversary is a crucial juncture for our campaign and SfB needs all the support possible to mobilize across the US. This is the time for everyone associated with the campaign to stand up and be counted, and I'm answering this call."

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Ellen Shifrin
SFB Advisory Board Member

A former professor and administer, Ellen has strong communication and organizational skills.   Her involvement with the campaign for justice in Bhopal began in 2008, but she was involved with Amnesty International for many years.   She has been invited to table at the UN Association of Canada, Toronto event on Water and the AI Business & Human Rights conference, The Case for Water as a Human Right.   Having traveled to the subcontinent eight times, Ellen is looking forward to combining her deep-rooted passions for human rights and India.

Why do you believe in justice for Bhopal?

"Bhopal serves not only as a situation in itself, but also as a model for people in other places fighting the same type of violations. There are so many levels on which to work for justice in Bhopal - human and environmental rights, politics, economics, and the human spirit. So because Bhopal will always be with us in one way or another, because the fight of the gas and water-affected people is wholly non-violent, because the spirit of the survivors is so strong--all these are reasons why I want to be part of the Advisory Board, why I want to be more involved, and why I feel it's such an important cause to be whole-heartedly committed to."

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International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal

The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB) is a coalition of people's organizations, non-profit groups and individuals who have joined forces to campaign for justice for the survivors of the Union Carbide Disaster in Bhopal. Three organisations of survivors from Bhopal play a leading role in the international network. Members of ICJB continue to pressure Union Carbide's current owner The Dow Chemical Company and the US and Indian governments to ensure adequate health care, safe environment and proper rehabilitation for the survivors of the disaster and their children. Exemplary punishment of the Corporation and its guilty officials is one of the key demands of ICJB.

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Satinath Sarangi
Managing Director, Sambhavna Clinic

Satinath, aka Sathyu, is a metallurgical engineer turned activist who arrived in Bhopal a day-after the disaster and stayed on to become a key figure in the struggle for justice in Bhopal. He is a founding trustee of the Sambhavna Clinic, a non-profit clinic dedicated to the holistic treatment of gas-affected persons in Bhopal. As the founder of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action, Sathyu has been involved with relief, research and publication activities towards the welfare of the survivors since the disaster. [Email Sathyu]

About Sathyu:
“When I compare myself with my friends who were there with me in engineering, I find myself much happier. It is the spirit of the people I have been working with that has made me go on. Looking back, I would not like my life to shape up in any other way.”

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Rachna Dhingra
India Coordinator, ICJB

Rachna Dhingra, originally from Delhi, was just six years old when the world’s worst industrial disaster struck Bhopal in 1984. She was 18 when she moved to the US with her mother to attend the University of Michigan; it was there that she first became active in the Association for India’s Development. She developed an interest towards activist and women’s issues, keenly following the struggles in the Narmada valley and in Bhopal. In Ann Arbor, she and other AID volunteers began a campaign against Dow Chemical that continues to this day, and later developed into Students for Bhopal. After graduating with a business degree in 2000, Rachna joined a consulting firm where her first client, ironically, was Dow Chemical! After just a few months, she followed her passion and quit to join the peoples’ struggle in Bhopal. She describes this passion herself - “I truly believe in the power of ordinary people because they simply are capable of doing extraordinary things. I see it Bhopal everyday and that is what keeps me going and inspired. As we say in Bhopal, Janta ki chala paltnaya Hill lai lai Jagjoor duniya.” [Email Rachna]

About Rachna:
“I love what I am doing. For me it is not a sacrifice but something that helps me sleep better at night without any regret. What angers me most is that even 21 years after the disaster, the government can allow people to drink contaminated water. Every person is moved by something in his or her life. For me it was the fact that the company I was working for was more concerned about profits than lives of the people. I came to Bhopal to see that demands like better health care system and income generation plans are implemented. Twenty-one years is a long time to wait for justice but I am hopeful that eventually everyone will get justice.”

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Nityanand Jayaraman
Volunteer; Activist

Nityanand has a degree in electronics engineering, but works as ‘a traveling journalist’. His work brought him to Bhopal for the first time 10 years back in 1995. "I did an article on groundwater contamination and got hooked to the issue." He lives in Chennai and has since been writing research-based reports on environmental and human rights issues. "Companies like the UCC and Dow Chemical are being courted by the country. It means that we, as people, will have to target Dow through legal and direct actions to hold them accountable for their crimes. There is no other way that justice can be delivered to survivors of Bhopal," says Nityanand, or Nity, as his fellow activists call him. "I don’t travel much any more, but the Bhopal issue takes me out of Chennai for a few weeks in a year. Otherwise, I travel to other pollution-impacted communities in Tamil Nadu and nearby areas." [Email Nity]

About Nity:
“For me working on social issues like Bhopal is neither difficult nor a sacrifice. If the situation arises, I can sleep on the footpath. Lakhs of people sleep on the footpath everyday. The Bhopal issue has been something that has made my life as a human being much better. If journalism and research give me my livelihood, being involved in the Bhopal and other campaigns for justice is food for my soul. Bhopal is an inspiration, and I keep going back to get my batteries recharged. For me, there is no other choice but to fight. Some people are made that way and for me this is the only way.”

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Madhumita Dutta
The Other Media

Madhu, with a degree in environmental science, lobbies for the cause with government officials concerned and provides research-based support work. She has been involved with issues related to asbestos mining in Jharkhand and safety of workers ever since she left her job as a reporter with the Center for Science and Environment (CSE) magazine Down to Earth. "I wanted to work freely, pick up a bag and travel. So I left everything and did just that," she says. What angers her the most is when the government expresses its helplessness to resolve issues. [Email Madhu]

About Madhu:
“I would like to be part of any change that is for the better. I really don’t know what I would be doing five years from now. Maybe I will become a farmer because I find a farmer’s ability to grow food so very empowering.”

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Gary Cohen
Executive Director, Environmental Health Fund

Gary Cohen is Executive Director of the Environmental Health Fund in Boston, and a founder and co-Executive Director of Health Care Without Harm. He is the author of Fighting Toxics (Island Press, 1990) and the groundbreaking report, "The U.S. Military'sToxics Legacy". He served for many years as the Executive Director of the National Toxics Campaign Fund and is a founder of the Military Toxics Project, which addresses the public health legacy of the U.S. military. In 1994 he consulted with the Gorbachev Foundation to assist it in developing its "Environmental Legacy Project." He is a member of the International Advisory Board of the Sambhavna Clinic in Bhopal, India, which provides free medical care to the survivors of Union Carbide's gas disaster. He has been working on environmental health issues for over 20 years and has published numerous articles on environmental health issues in the United States and India. [Email Gary]

About Gary:
“I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed. My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row.”

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Ward Morehouse
President, Council on International and Public Affairs

Ward Morehouse, author and human rights activist, is President of the Council on International and Public Affairs, a research, education, and advocacy group working on environmental and social justice issues. He is also Co-Director of the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy and Chairman of the Intermediate Technology Development Group of North America.

Morehouse has written or edited some 20 books, including The Bhopal Tragedy; Abuse of Power: The Social Performance of Multinational Corporations; Worker Empowerment in a Changing Economy; and The Underbelly of the U.S. Economy. He is co-founder of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal and Communities Concerned About Corporations, a network of workers, community activists, victims of industrial disasters, and socially concerned investors fighting corporate power. He is also a member of the regular panel of jurists for the Permanent People’s Tribunal headquartered in Rome.

A former academic, Morehouse taught Political Science at New York University and has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Lund in Sweden and the Administrative Staff College of India in Hyderabad. He has also been a consultant to various United Nations agencies, including UNESCO, UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization), UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development), and the Center on Transnational Corporations. [Email Ward]

About Ward:
"While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery."

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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: July 8, 2009

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