Activists in San Francisco join International Hunger Fast Relay to support Bhopal gas disaster survivors who are on indefinite fast in New Delhi.
13 June, 2008
San Francisco, CA: Activists in San Francisco joined the Global Hunger Strike Relay today by having a public fasting event at the Indian Consulate at 540 Arguello Blvd. The event was a protest with chants and great visuals by a diverse group of supporters of the survivors of the 1984 Bhopal Gas Disaster. The protesters included four people who will be fasting for the entire day. A delegation from the group also had a meeting with the Consul Community Affairs.
Local activists have joined the Global Relay, which is being supported by hundreds of activists in many countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Canada and India. Actions are being planned in cities across the North America, from Boston to Toronto to San Francisco.
Activists participating in the Global Relay are in solidarity with the nine activists, including supporters and survivors of the ongoing disasters in Bhopal, who began an indefinite fast Tuesday in Delhi. Author Indra Sinha, a 2007 Booker Prize finalist, has joined the indefinite fast from his home in France. The brave yet perilous decision to begin an indefinite fast has been undertaken only after numerous unsuccessful attempts to focus the attention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh toward the grave situation in Bhopal.
“We extend unwavering support to the survivors who are bravely standing up to the oppressive force of India’s government,” said Shana Ortman, the US Coordinator for the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, who also helped organize today’s event. “These global actions display tremendous unity toward the common end of justice in Bhopal.”
Survivors are demanding the establishment of a special commission to deal with the issues that still plague the people of Bhopal. They are also demanding that the Prime Minister hold Dow Chemical legally liable, following Dow’s purchase of the initial disaster offender, Union Carbide, in 2001. Though survivors have gained support from many influential lawmakers, as well as the Ministry of Law and the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, the Prime Minister Singh has not budged from his ongoing support of this rogue chemical company.
Nearly half a million people were exposed to poisonous methyl isocyanate during a runaway chemical reaction at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal on December 3rd, 1984. Since then, more than 22,000 people have died and 150,000 survivors continue to be chronically ill, as the Indian government and Dow have repeatedly failed to address their liabilities in the atrocities of the world’s worst industrial disaster.