IANS, June 14, 2008
New Delhi, June 14 (IANS) Expressing solidarity with the Bhopal gas leak victims, 16 US House of Congress members led by Padma Bhushan Frank Pallone Jr have urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to bring Dow Chemicals to justice. Their letter dated June 5 is strong in its criticism of the US-based Dow Chemical, which took over Union Carbide, in whose plant the disaster took place on Dec 2-3, 1984.
“The conduct of American corporations outside the US is a long-standing concern of ours. In this case, US corporations have refused to submit to the jurisdiction of foreign (Indian) courts. It is outrageous that the executives of Union Carbide and its successor, Dow Chemical, have yet to be brought to justice,” the letter reads.
In the Bhopal gas leak holocaust, often called the world’s worst industrial disaster, the Union Carbide pesticide plant leaked over 40 tonnes of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas, which killed at least 3,800 people and affected many thousands.
The US legislators’ letter is the latest in a tide of support that has flowed in from overseas, including endorsements from British and Scottish MPs, Amnesty International, and more than 100 eminent writers and artists.
The letter, a copy of which was given to the media by a group of survivors holding protests and an indefinite hunger strike here, said: “We are writing to express our support for the people of Bhopal, India, victims of the world’s worst industrial disaster in 1984.
“The survivors marched 500 miles in February and March from Bhopal to New Delhi, where they have been for over 60 days. We urge you to personally meet the survivor groups and address their long-standing demands for justice and a life of dignity,” said the letter addressed to the prime minister.
Nearly 100 people including survivors, victims’ family members and activists supporting the cause are protesting near Jantar Mantar in the heart of New Delhi. They say they won’t stop the protest unless Manmohan Singh meets them and solves their problems.
Besides Pallone Jr, the Congress members who have signed the letter include Patrick Kennedy, Barbara Lee and Steve Rothman.
Nityanand Jayraman, an activist on protest, said that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has received over 5,027 faxes urging him to meet the victims and listen to their demands.
While the PMO responded to their demands with a letter, organisations of gas leak survivors have found the response unsatisfactory.