Click here for text of declaration.

CONTACT: Ryan Bodanyi, Students for Bhopal, (401) 829-6192


Threaten Divestment, Protests Over Bhopal Contamination

Today students and organizations from more than 60 colleges, high schools and universities worldwide released a Student Declaration to Dow, vowing to press their schools to divest and refuse donations from the company until it resolves its legal and moral responsibilities for the Bhopal Disaster. The Declaration, coordinated by Students for Bhopal and released in advance of the Dow Shareholder Meeting next week, signifies the largest student movement facing Dow since the end of the Vietnam War.

On December 3rd, 1984, thousands of people in Bhopal, India, were gassed to death after a catastrophic chemical leak at a Union Carbide pesticide plant. More than 150,000 people were left severely disabled—of whom 20,000 have since died of their injuries­—in a disaster now widely acknowledged as the world’s worst-ever industrial disaster. None of the six safety systems at the plant were functional, and Union Carbide’s own documents prove the company cut corners on safety and maintenance in order to save money. Today, twenty years after the Bhopal disaster, those who survived the gas remain sick, and the chemicals that Union Carbide left behind in Bhopal have poisoned the water supply and contributed to an epidemic of cancers, birth defects, and other afflictions. With its purchase of Union Carbide in 2001, Dow assumed Carbide’s environmental and criminal liabilities.

“We are outraged,” the students write. “We believe the fact that Dow-Carbide has not acted to stop the ongoing contamination of tens of thousands—for which it is responsible—is inhumane, unjust, and immoral.”

In signing the Declaration to Dow, students and organizations committed to:

  • Educating our fellow students and our communities about the Bhopal disaster and Dow-Carbide’s unresolved responsibilities.
  • Organizing within our schools to demand, as during the Vietnam War, that our institutions of learning are not tainted by Dow’s legacy of death.
  • Demanding that our institutions do not invest in a company that maintains its profit margins by avoiding the toxic legacies it’s created around the world.

“You can expect to be surprised by students and supporters of the Bhopal campaign so long as you continue to evade your responsibility in Bhopal,” the Declaration states. “You can expect protests, direct actions, and embarrassment in the media. You can expect students across the world to demand that their institutions of learning sever ties with your company, as they did during the Vietnam War. You can expect this student movement to grow until you fulfill all the demands of the survivors of your disaster.”

The Declaration follows a resolution passed in March by the student assembly at the University of California, Berkeley, calling for divestment from Dow. Similar resolutions have been passed at the University of Michigan and Wheaton College, but Berkeley’s is the first to call explicitly for divestment.


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