Tag Archives: actions and protests

Bhopal orphans demand proper employment

Orphans of the 1984 Union Carbide disaster have formed their own organisation, Bhopal Ki Aawaaz, “the Voice of Bhopal”, to fight for the fulfilment of promises made to them, but never kept, by a long series of state dignitaries. At a press conference in Bhopal today, the orphans voiced their demand for proper employment and said they would launch an indefinite hunger strike from September 1st in support of their demand.

On 11th August 2004 Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation department informed the group of 18 orphans that their request for employment had been rejected. The orphans have been fighting for employment since 1993.

In July 2003 they staged a hunger fast without food or water, supported by then Opposition leader Babu Lal Gaur. Seven days after that fast, then Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Digvijay Singh promised the orphans he would sanction a grant that would help them start their own small businesses. Given this promise and at the urging of the Chief Minister, they ended their waterless hunger fast. The promise was not honoured.

In Feburary, 2004, six months after the dishonoured promise, Bhopal Ki Aawaaz’s President Shahid Noor met new Chief Minister, Uma Bharti to ask her to honour the promise of her predecessor. Six months later the orphans were informed that their request had been rejected. They went to see their former supporter, Babu Lal Gaur, now Gas Relief Minister in the new state cabinet, but three meetings with him produced no results.

At the time of the gas disaster, the members of Bhopal Ki Aawaaz were aged between 6 months and 13 years. For years, while they were children, successive state governments treated them as mascots, trotting them in and out of public functions. In the last 19 years they have met 1 President, 2 Prime Ministers, 3 Governors, 4 Chief Ministers, 4 Ministers in Central Government, 3 Gas Relief Ministers and all of these officials made promises that they would be given jobs, but despite all these promises, the orphans are still unemployed or forced to work for really low wages. Members of Bhopal Ki Aawaaz appealed to other organizations working with victims of 1984 gas disaster to show solidarity by joining the indefinite hunger strike on September 1st.

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Tell the Indian government to say YES to a clean up in Bhopal

***Urgent Action Alert***
Fax the Government! Join the nationwide hungerstrike!

In a historic ruling reached in response to a suit filed by Bhopal survivors, a court in New York has agreed to consider survivors’ claims for getting Union Carbide to clean up the toxic wastes in Bhopal.

For this to happen, the Indian Government needs to submit a letter to the New York court expressing its support for the survivors’ claims, and assuring the court of the Government’s interest in having Union Carbide clean-up the contaminated site and groundwater.

The DEADLINE set by the New York court for receipt of such a letter is June 30, 2004.

1) Fax the Indian government HERE
2) Join the nationwide hunger strike HERE
3)Call, write, and email the Indian gov’t!! Read on for more details.

If the Indian government sends a letter to the New York court by June 30, Carbide could be forced to clean up

Contact the Prime Minister of India and the Minister of Chemicals, Gov’t of India:

Request that the Government of India say “YES” to a cleanup in Bhopal.

Request that the Government send the letter to the New York court by June 30, 2004, expressing support to survivors’ claims for environmental remediation by Union Carbide.

Address your calls, faxes and emails to:

1. Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India
Prime Minister’s Office
Room No. 152,
South Block,
New Delhi, 110001
Tel: +91 11 23012312, 23018939, Fax : 23016857

Bungalow No. 19,
Safdarjung Road,
New Delhi. 110011
Residence Tel 23018668, 23015470
Fax : 23015603

2. Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan, Minister of Chemicals
Tel: +91 11 23386519, 23386364 Fax: 011 +91 11 233 86519
Email: mincf.cpc@sb.nic.in
jsc.cpc@sb.nic.in)

3. Or send the letter below to the Government of India.

TALKING POINTS FOR PHONE CONVERSATIONS:
1. Ask for The Indian High Commissioner.
2. Subject of the call: To urge the Government of India to submit a letter by JUNE 30 supporting Bhopal survivors’ claims in ongoing lawsuit in New York court seeking remediation of contaminated factory site and surroundings by Union Carbide.
3. More than 5000 tons of toxic wastes abandoned by Union Carbide in Bhopal represents an ongoing source of pollution.
4. Nearly 20,000 people in the vicinity are forced to consume contaminated water due to the inaction by the Government and the company.
5. After two decades of inaction by Government and industry, survivors approached the Second District Court of New York seeking remediation of contaminated site and groundwater by Union Carbide.
6. Clean-up should be paid for by the Polluter — Union Carbide. Costs of clean-up can run into several hundreds of crores, and shouldn’t be passed on to taxpayers.
7. The Second District Court of New York has indicated that it will consider the claim if it receives a letter BY JUNE 30 from the Government of India indicating the Government’s support of plaintiffs’ claims for remediation by Union Carbide.
8. Reiterate that you are calling to press upon the Government to submit a letter to the New York court supporting the survivors’ claims for clean-up by Union Carbide.

BACKGROUND:

The world’s worst-ever industrial disaster devastated the Indian city of Bhopal nearly 20 years ago, in 1984. Union Carbide’s deadly legacy continues to haunt the people of Bhopal. Toxic wastes abandoned by Union Carbide remain strewn in and around the factory site representing an ongoing source of pollution. Poisons from these wastes have contaminated the groundwater serving more than 20,000 people.

After two decades of inaction by the company and the Government, survivors and residents from the contaminated areas filed a suit in the Southern District Court of New York seeking clean-up of the contamination by Union Carbide.

A March 17, 2004, order of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, USA, ruled that survivors’ claims seeking clean-up by Union Carbide should be considered by the New York District Court if “the Indian government or the State of Madhya Pradesh seeks to intervene in this action or otherwise urges the Court to order such relief.” The New York District Court has given the Government of India until June 30, 2004, to submit such a letter.

MODEL LETTER TO GOVT OF INDIA:

To: The Prime Minister,
Govt of India
Prime Minister’s Office
Room No. 152,
South Block,
New Delhi, 110001
India

COPY TO:
Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan,
Minister of Chemicals
Shastri Bhavan
New Delhi 11000
Tel: +91 11 23386519, 23386364 Fax: +91 11 23384020

Dear Sir,
I’m writing to urge your Government to do right by the survivors of the Bhopal disaster by taking steps to address their long-standing concerns. Thousands of tons of toxic wastes lie dumped and open to the elements in and around the former Union Carbide factory in Bhopal. Poisons from these wastes have leached into the groundwater serving more than 20,000 people in the neighborhood.

After two decades of inaction by the company and the Government, survivors and residents from the contaminated areas filed a suit in the Southern District Court of New York seeking clean-up of the contamination by Union Carbide. (Sajida Bano et al v. Union Carbide Corporation and Warren Anderson)

A March 17, 2004, order of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, USA, ruled that survivors’ claims seeking clean-up by Union Carbide should be considered by the New York District court if “the Indian government or the State of Madhya Pradesh seeks to intervene in this action or otherwise urges the Court to order such relief.” The New York District Court has given the Government of India until June 30, 2004, to submit such a letter.

Allowing the polluter to escape because it is a powerful MNC, and allowing the victims to be revictimised because they are seen as powerless poor people is a dangerous folly. Not only does it underestimate the power of organized and globalised resistance that the Bhopalis are capable of unleashing, it also projects India as a willing dumping ground for the world’s dirty technology.

I urge the Indian Government to support the legal action initiated by survivors by writing to the Southern District Court of New York urging the court to order plant site and groundwater remediation by Union Carbide Corporation.

Sincerely,

Address:
Email:

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UN Urged To Help Rehabilitate Bhopal

The Bhopal delegation visited the United Nations today to urge the organisation to end its “20-year long discriminatory stand” by intervening in Bhopal’s continuing humanitarian disaster. “UN agencies such as WHO, ILO and UNICEF remain silent as people continue to die at the rate of one a day, and babies are born with birth defects. The only reason for this is that Bhopal was not a natural disaster but a disaster caused by the deliberate negligence of a powerful corporation,” said Rashida today. “Is this an indication of the UN’s willingness to sacrifice its mandate in the face of corporate might?”

Champa and Rashida met with Jose Antonio Ocampo, undersecretary general of Economic & Social Affairs, to remind him of “the total absence of initiatives by any of the UN agencies towards rehabilitation of health, economic status, environment or child welfare for the more than 500,000 survivors suffering as a result of exposure”. They also pointed out that Dow’s actions in Bhopal violate some of the basic rights enshrined in the U.N. Charter and that agencies such as the U.N. Commission on Human Rights have done nothing to bring the fugitives to justice. Five areas that UN agencies can make a critical contribution in Bhopal were outlined:

1. UN HCHR to present a report on the ongoing human rights violations in Bhopal;
2. UNICEF to research and monitor children of exposed parents, and initiate rehabilitation efforts;
3. ILO to assess loss of work capacity among survivors, and initiate schemes for economic rehabilitation;
4. WHO to initiate epidemiological and clinical studies, and help develop suitable treatment protocol;
5. UN Sub commission on Promotion and Protection of Human Rights to use Dow Chemical and Union Carbide in the context of Bhopal as a case to develop recommendations for legally binding mechanisms for holding corporations accountable for their impacts on human rights and the environment.

20 YEARS LATER: SURVIVORS OF BHOPAL GAS LEAK URGE UNITED NATIONS AGENCIES TO PROVIDE HUMANITARIAN SUPPORT TO ADDRESS ONGOING IMPACT OF WORLD’S WORST INDUSTRIAL DISASTER

New York, April 29th, 2004 — Today two survivors of the December 1984 Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal, India, will meet Mr. Jose Antonio Ocampo, undersecretary general of Economic & Social Affairs, to urge him to end the 20-year long discriminatory stand taken by the UN against the Bhopal victims, and initiate a program of relief and rehabilitation for the survivors. The survivors, Rashida Bee and Champa Devi Shukla, currently in US to receive the prestigious Goldman Prize, will remind Mr. Ocampo of the total absence of initiatives by any of the UN agencies towards rehabilitation of health, economic status, environment or child welfare for the more than 500,000 survivors suffering as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals.

According to the two women leaders, the UN’s failure to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis at the site of the world’s worst industrial disaster stands in sharp contrast to their response to the plight of natural disasters victims. “UN agencies such as WHO, ILO and UNICEF remain silent as people continue to die at the rate of one a day, and babies are born with birth defects. The only reason for this is that Bhopal was not a natural disaster but a disaster caused by the deliberate negligence of a powerful corporation,” said Rashida Bee. “Is this an indication of the UN’s willingness to sacrifice its mandate in the face of corporate might?”

The 1984 disaster, which has killed more than 20,000 people to date, has left a trail of health and economic problems in its wake. A 2003 study published in the Journal of American Medical Association found that male children born to gas-exposed parents were lighter, thinner, and shorter and had smaller head circumference compared to other children, confirming the impact of the toxic gases on the second generation. Toxic wastes abandoned by Union Carbide in and around its factory site remain strewn in Bhopal. Poisons from these wastes have leached into the groundwater used by more than 20,000 people living adjacent to the factory, and a recent study by Sambhavna Trust found that people consuming contaminated water suffer from lower hemoglobin levels in blood, an indication of the effects of Trichlorobenzene, a Carbide chemical found in the water.

Union Carbide, and its new owner Dow Chemical, have refused to assist in clean-up and other rehabilitation, even while they continue to evade summons to appear for trial in the ongoing criminal case in the Bhopal court. Subsequent to the disaster, Union Carbide Corporation was charged with manslaughter. Union Carbide was declared “fugitive from justice” in 1992 by the Indian court, and is an offender in the eyes of the Indian Government. “Union Carbide and Dow’s actions violate some of the most basic rights enshrined in the UN charter even while agencies such as the United Nations Commission on Human Rights remain silent,” said Champa Devi Shukla.

“That the perpetrators of the world’s worst industrial disaster have evaded criminal and civil liabilities, and escaped the jurisdiction of Indian courts by taking refuge in the United States re-enforces the need for a legally binding mechanism on transnational corporations,” said Kenny Bruno, Campaign Coordinator for EarthRights International. Bruno also coordinates the Alliance for a Corporate Free UN, which highlights increasing collusion between the UN and TNCs. “It is high time for the UN to learn the lessons of Bhopal.”

The visiting Bhopal delegation will present the UN with a memorandum seeking action on the following points:

1. UN HCHR to present a report on the ongoing human rights violations in Bhopal;
2. UNICEF to research and monitor children of exposed parents, and initiate rehabilitation efforts;
3. ILO to assess loss of work capacity among survivors, and initiate schemes for economic rehabilitation
4. WHO to initiate epidemiological and clinical studies, and help develop suitable treatment protocol;
5. UN Sub commission on Promotion and Protection of Human Rights to use Dow Chemical and Union Carbide in the context of Bhopal as a case to develop recommendations for legally binding mechanisms for holding corporations accountable for their impacts on human rights and the environment.

CONTACT: Riptide Communications (212) 260-5000

———————–
Inter Press News Agency
POLITICS:
Bhopal Survivors Urge U.N. to Help

Haider Rizvi

UNITED NATIONS, Apr 30 (IPS) – Disappointed after 20 years of appeals to courts and governments, survivors of the Union Carbide gas disaster in India are urging United Nations agencies to start relief and rehabilitation work in their hometown Bhopal, where hundreds of thousands of people still suffer from exposure to toxic material.

“The conditions are so bad that people think it would have been better to die on that night,” Rushed Bee, one of the survivors told reporters Thursday before meeting U.N. officials. “People continue to die at the rate of one a day. Yet the U.N. agencies, such as UNICEF, WHO and ILO remain silent.”

Bee, 48, lost six of her family members as a result of the Bhopal tragedy, when 40 tons of lethal methyl isocyante (MIC) gas leaked from the Union Carbide pesticide plant. She and another survivor, Champa Dev Sukla, 52, said the United Nations has failed to act in Bhopal because the incident was not a natural disaster.

“Is this an indication of the U.N.’s willingness to sacrifice its mandate in the face of corporate might?” she asked.

Earlier this month, both Bee and Sukla won the 2004 Goldman Award for their activism. They are now touring the United States to bring the Bhopal case to the attention of U.S. lawmakers and citizens.

More than 12,000 people died as a direct result of the 1984 gas leak. The incident has left a trail of health problems, as thousands of tons of toxic waste abandoned by Union Carbide in and around its factory site remain in the city.

Health activists say poisons from the wastes have leached into the groundwater used by more than 20,000 people living close to the abandoned factory, and another 100,000 people are seriously ill.

“People are forced to drink this contaminated water,” said Dr Sathinath Sarangi, who works at a clinic in the disaster-ridden area. “There are many health problems. Lack of blood is very common. Children are born with missing fingers, missing pallets and other deformities.”

Last year, the ‘Journal of the American Medical Association’ published a study that found male children born to gas-exposed parents in Bhopal were lighter, thinner, shorter and had on average smaller head circumferences than other children, confirming the impact of the toxic gas on the second generation.

“Children are born with cancer because their mothers’ milk is poisoned,” said Bee, her voice choking with emotion. “These children know when they are going to die and we don’t know what to tell them.”

Bee and other survivors say they want the World Health Organisation (WHO) to start epidemiological and clinical studies of the residents and to help develop sustainable treatment methods. They are also asking the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to research and monitor children of exposed parents and to start rehabilitation work.

Union Carbide and its new owner Dow Chemical have refused to help clean up and rehabilitation efforts at Bhopal. Dow continues to evade summons to appear in the on-going criminal case in a city court, maintaining it has no moral or legal obligation for the incident.

Subsequent to the disaster, Union Carbide was charged with manslaughter, and its former chairman Warren Anderson still faces criminal charges in India for “culpable homicide not amounting to murder”.

In 1989, the Indian Supreme Court ordered Union Carbide to pay 470 million dollars to the Indian government. Activists say the amount is insufficient to meet the basic needs of survivors, including acute medical care, lost wages and compensation for long-term disability and clean up of the site. Most survivors received less than 500 dollars from that judgement.

Unhappy with the Indian government’s performance, Bee and other survivors took their legal fights to U.S. courtrooms. With the support of advocacy groups, they filed a class-action lawsuit in New York in 1999 against Union Carbide and Anderson, seeking damages to cover medical costs and clean up of the site.

Last month, an appeals court held that U.S. courts could hear the suit and consider requests from Bhopal survivors for redemption of contaminated soil and groundwater. Activists say it is a small legal victory against Dow, but feel frustrated that the legal process has taken so many years.

“Twenty years is a long time. I don’t understand why they (Dow) are not being punished,” said Bee. “Why are we being punished? Why do our children have to wait for so long for justice?”

Activists say Dow’s actions violate some of the basic rights enshrined in the U.N. Charter, and charge that agencies like the U.N. Commission on Human Rights have done nothing to bring them to justice. They are urging the commission to make an example of the Bhopal case and take steps to hold the corporation legally accountable for its impact on human rights and the environment.

“Large corporations continue to manipulate the justice system. Like Carbide they do not want not be held liable in the home countries (for human rights violations, nor (they say) should they be held liable in their host countries,” said Kenny Bruno of the U.S.-based Earth Rights International, an advocacy group.

“Yet they can sign up to the U.N. Global Compact.”

U.N. officials defend the Compact, a project established in 2000 to encourage corporate social responsibility, but do not hesitate to admit that some companies that have pledged to follow the Compact’s nine principles have also been accused of violating labour, environmental or human rights.

“It’s a voluntary participation,” says Georg Kell, who leads the Compact. “It’s a long, long process.”

Aware of growing criticism against the U.N. institution, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called a meeting of the Compact in June.

Whether U.N. agencies decide to take action in Bhopal, survivors-turned-activists from the disaster area say they will continue their international campaign until justice is done for the city’s people.

“If Union Carbide is not punished, if justice is not done,” said Bee, “then I fear there will be more Bhopals in this world”.

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Stavropoulos admits own incompetence as 40 Million shares go against Dow

At Dow’s AGM today, with the shareholder’s vote on a Bhopal resolution safely out of the way, William Stavropoulos finally admitted he had ‘misspoken’ at last year’s meeting when denying the existence of outstanding criminal charges against Union Carbide. After the confession, Stavropoulos slithered away from every other question on the dreaded criminal charges more adroitly than an oiled anaconda. Next year he will be forced to disclose that he’d repeated the original lie – ‘oh, silly old me’ – immediately prior to today’s vote, which despite Dow’s bare-faced concealing of the truth garnered six per cent of Dow’s shares against the company’s motion to dismiss – more than enough to enable proponents to reintroduce the resolution in 2005.

Meantime, there was more plenty more squirming. “To the best of my knowledge, er, we have no knowledge…” Stavropoulos offered in one inadvertent lurch towards profound truth, before it was revealed that what he/Dow knew not of was the MP government’s stated intention to sue Dow over contamination left behind at Carbide’s factory in Bhopal. Designed to put shareholder’s minds at rest over executive management’s understanding of the risks posed by Bhopal, this ludicrous denial was merely one in a bewildering series that also included ‘I have no awareness of Union Carbide making that allegation (of sabotage)’ – meaning that the CEO behind Dow’s 2001 takeover of Carbide would like shareholders to believe he had not actually bothered to look at the alleged causes behind the world’s largest industrial catastrophe before sealing the deal with the fugitive accused.

In all, it was a humiliating display of incompetence by Stavropoulos, acted out purely for the sake of keeping shareholders blind to the gargantuan liabilities crunching unerringly towards the company – those same liabilities which were brought upon Dow by Stavropoulos’s incompetence.

“To The Best of My Knowledge, Er, We Have No Knowledge…”

MIDLAND, MICHIGAN, 13 May 2004 — At Dow Chemicals’ shareholder meeting held today in Midland, Michigan, the Bhopal resolution introduced by Boston Common Asset Management secured more than 6 percent of shareholders’ votes or 40 million shares, enabling the proponents to reintroduce the resolution next year. The resolution, which was supported by influential shareholders such as the California Pension Fund and the New York Comptrollers Office, required Dow to report the steps taken by it in addressing the Bhopal liabilities, and in containing the reputational damage Dow continues to suffer as a result of its ongoing refusal to remedy the situation in Bhopal.

Describing the vote as a postive step in educating shareholders of Dow’s pending Bhopal liabilities, Bhopal survivors and 2004 Goldman Prize winners Rashida Bee and Champa Devi Shukla said they chose to remain outside the shareholders’ meeting because they were “lied to” by the CEO last year. “Our apprehensions were confirmed this year. The company continues to mislead shareholders on significant liabilities that continue to be heard in courts in India and the US,” said Bee and Shukla. “It should concern shareholders and other members of the public that Dow has a pathological tendency to mislead its investors as a means of evading liability.”

Despite acknowledging that he “misspoke” at the 2003 AGM on the matter of pending criminal charges against Union Carbide Corporatation, Dow CEO William Stavropoulos “misspoke” again this year stating that “The 1989 settlement resolved all criminal and civil liabiilties” related to the Bhopal disaster. In 1992, the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Bhopal declared Union Carbide Corporation a fugitive from justice for refusing to appear in Bhopal to face charges of manslaughter.

The CEO misled its shareholders that the Union Carbide site in India had been cleaned up, and that any remaining contamination is the responsibility of the Madhya Pradesh Government. Last month, Mr. Babu Lal Gaur, Minister for Gas Relief in the Madhya Pradesh Government, said that the Government will move against Dow Chemical for remediation of the Bhopal site. On March 17, 2004, the Federal Appeals court in New York affirmed survivors’ claims against Union Carbide for site remediation.

“The fact that the CEO said that he will deal with the impending legal challenge by the Indian Government on the matter of site clean up when the matter comes up exposes that Dow is only going to continue to react to increasing liability as opposed to taking a proactive stance,” said Lauren Compere of Boston Common Asset Management, the Boston-based investment firm that had introduced the Bhopal resolution.

On the matter of Dow’s dioxin contamination of the Saginaw watershed, the company fielded several questions by irate shareholders responding that “Chloracne is the most serious illness associated with dioxins in humans.”

Michelle Hurd-Riddick of Bay City-based Lone Tree Council said: “Dow’s responses on dioxin expose the company as either ignorant of science or unwilling to confront and deal with the dioxin problem.”

For more information, contact: Nityanand Jayaraman: 520 906 5216 (cell)

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Diane Wilson faces jail for Dow protest

Diane Wilson, “famed shrimp-boat-captain-turned-activist and merciless scourge of Dow”, attends a Texan court on Monday, 26 Jan for a jury trial. She’s facing charges of criminal trespass and resisting arrest, stemming from her August, 2002 protest action at the former Carbide plant in Seadrift, Texas. If convicted, Diane will have to serve around three to six months in jail. For climbing over a low fence and up a 90ft tower, damaging nothing and harming no one. During the action, Diane herself was harmed, however, by four members of a SWAT team who gouged at her hands and cut her arm. You can read Diane’s gripping and funny account of the action here.

In July 2002, a month prior to the offending action, Diane explained why she was compelled to protest on behalf Bhopal’s survivors: “Bhopal is a symbol of the unfinished business of justice that lies before all mankind.” Diane knows what she’s talking about, having visited Bhopal in 1992. The experience persuaded her to put her body on the line in the most literal way: she set up camp outside Dow and stopped eating for thirty days. You can read the amazing diary of this time here. Remarkably, it was not the first time Diane had risked her health for a higher value. “You have to follow your vision and maintain your integrity,” Diane told Futurenet of a previous battle with Formosa Plastics, responsible for polluting the bay she and four generations of her family fished in. “Once you cross the commitment boundary, miracles start to happen.” Such a miracle saved a relative – but not Diane’s dog – from bullets fired from a helicopter during the fight with Formosa. “When you can smell your (own) fear, you’re on the right track.”

The only fear we smell in this case is Dow’s; fear that their criminal disregard for human life in Bhopal and elsewhere will be dragged into the light. In bringing the criminal complaint against Diane for a technical infringement of rules of trespass, it would appear that Dow hold an evangelical belief in the letter of the law. Well, it’s either this or that the company responsible for harbouring mass homicidal “fugitive from justice” Carbide is a vicious and brazen hypocrite. Thankfully Dow spokesman Jon Musser settled this quandary for us last month, when he answered a question about pending homicide charges put by the Michigan Daily News: “the Indian government has no jurisdiction over Union Carbide or Mr. Anderson; therefore, they are not appearing in court.” As Diane puts it, “companies like Dow make a mockery of justice. They invoke the law when it suits them and ignore it when it doesn’t.”

If you’d like to tell Dow what you think of their double standards, read on.

If, like Diane, you’ve decided that “there comes a time when you simply have to act”, there are a few things you could do right now.

THINGS YOU CAN DO

IN TEXAS:

Send a letter of protest – model DOC1 here – to:

Dan W. Heard
Calhoun County Criminal District Attorney
PO Box 1001
Port Lavaca, Texas 77979
USA
Tel. 351/553-4422
Fax. 361/553-442
Email: dan@cccda.org

Greg Abbott
Attorney General of Texas
Office of the Attorney General
PO Box 12548
Austin, TX 78711-2548
Email: greg.abbott@oag.state.tx.us

Diane’s local newspaper (letters page):

The Port Lavaca Wave
107 East Austin
P.O. Box 88
Texas
USA
Tel. 361/552-9788
Fax 361/552-3108
Email: sbales@plwave.com

AGAINST DOW:

1. Call Dow HQ in Michigan on 1-800-232-2436 demanding that Dow accept its liabilities and clean up its mess in Bhopal (see full list of demands at the bottom of the page). Gee up on the facts beforehand.

2. Demonstrate outside your nearest Dow facility. Same demands. Give them brooms so they get the point. List of Dow facilities:
North America
Asia-Pacific
Africa
Latin America
Europe
India and the Middle East
You can find 20 downloadble posters for these actions here. Other resources here.

3. Email strong protests to Dow media contacts listed here. Alternatively, go straight to the horse’s mouth: jmusser@dow.com . Try adapting this style of address for other Dow personnel, such as the Dow board members. You can find a list of them here.

4. Sign an electronic petition. If you are a member of any union, go here. If you are a faculty member, go here.

5. If you’re a student, join Students For Bhopal and get your campus active.

6. If you are a citizen, write to your nearest elected representative and urge them to to write to Dow demanding they accept their responsibilities in Bhopal. Ask them to raise the issue in the appropriate forum.

7.Ask your union to adopt a resolution on Bhopal. Do the same with your city council.

8. Copy this and pass it on to your friends. (We can’t afford advertising.)

9. If you can afford it, contribute money to the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal and/or the Bhopal Medical Appeal.

10. Let us know what you’re doing: tim@bhopal.net

PIC1
PRESS RELEASE
Embargoed Until 12.01am, Monday 26th Jan 2003

Texan Fisherwoman’s Bhopal Protest Ends in Criminal Case
Dow Chemical Making ‘A Mockery of the Law’

Port Lavaca, Texas, 9.00 am, 26 Jan – Local fisherwoman and environmental campaigner Diane Wilson appears in court today for a jury trial relating to a protest action at The Dow Chemical Company’s Seadrift plant.

On 26th August, 2002, Ms Wilson scaled a 90ft tower and unfurled a 12 ft banner that read ‘Dow – Responsible For Bhopal’, referring to the world’s worst industrial disaster, caused when 27 tons of poison gases escaped from a Union Carbide pesticide factory, killing thousands within hours and injuring more than 500,000 other people in the sleeping city.

As a result of the action Ms Wilson faces charges of criminal trespass and resisting arrest that could lead to six months in jail.

Ms Wilson, who had ended a 30-day hunger-strike outside the Seadrift plant before scaling the ethylene oxide tower, was yesterday unrepentant.

“I was protesting that for 12 years Dow’s subsidiary Union Carbide has been refusing to attend a court in India where it stands charged with culpable homicide for the deaths of more than 20,000 people. Carbide killed thousands then jumped bail, I never harmed a soul but it’s me in the dock facing criminal charges. Truly, companies like Dow make a mockery of justice. They invoke the law when it suits them and ignore it when it doesn’t.”

The criminal case against Union Carbide and its former CEO Warren Anderson has been ongoing since October 1991. In 1992, an Indian court published notices in the Washington Post declaring both parties “fugitives from justice” after they avoided service of arrest warrants delivered by Interpol. Dow became the 100% owner of Union Carbide in February 2001, despite widespread warnings about the criminal charges outstanding against the company. Carbide also faces a Class Action in New York regarding massive environmental contamination left at its former factory in Bhopal.

On May 26th 2003, following widespread protests in India and elsewhere, the Indian government asked the US authorities for Warren Anderson’s extradition to face trial in India. Anderson remains at large and Dow refuses to pay for cleaning up the toxic wastes left by Union Carbide at the factory site.

Last year, Congressman Frank Pallone and a dozen of his colleagues in the House wrote a letter to Dow and filed an amicus in the New York action.

“It’s outrageous that we will soon mark the 20th Anniversary of this tragic event and Dow Chemical has still not stepped forward to take full responsibility for the actions of Union Carbide,” Pallone said recently. “It is unacceptable to allow an American company not only the opportunity to exploit international borders and legal jurisdictions but also the ability to evade civil and criminal liability for environmental pollution and abuses committed overseas.”

Health workers in Bhopal say that chemicals leaking from Union Carbide’s abandoned and derelict factory have poisoned local drinking wells with carcinogens that can cause liver damage, cancers and birth defects, creating another health epidemic among communities already exposed to the original disaster. Dow does not dispute that the chemicals come from the factory but has suggested that the clean-up should be paid for by the victims of the disaster out of the fund established for their relief.

Nearly 20 years after the catastrophe that local people still simply call “that night”, Bhopal’s doctors have no proper medical protocols for treating the city’s 150,000 chronically ill. Crucial medical data from more than 15 studies into the long term effects of the poisons, which could save lives, is still being withheld by Union Carbide on the grounds that it is a “trade secret”.

“In such cases,” Ms Wilson said, “good citizens have not just the right but also the duty to protest. We cannot stand by and watch Dow and Union Carbide thumbing their noses at the law while their victims die — it’s a measure of how far they can pervert justice that protesting against their law-breaking is portrayed as a criminal act.”

Ms. Wilson added that, if imprisoned, she would continue her protest and begin an indefinite hungerstrike in jail.

CONTACT

Diane Wilson, 361-785-3907, cell phone- 361-676-0663

Claire from CodePink, 310-827-3046, www.codepinkalert.org

Ms Wilson’s protest focussed on the following demands of Dow:

1) Face Trial : Ensure that Union Carbide ceases to abscond from the
Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court in Bhopal and that authorized
representatives of Dow-Union Carbide face trial in the Bhopal.

2) Provide long term health care: Assume responsibility for the continuing
and long term health consequences among the exposed persons and their
children. This includes medical care, health monitoring and necessary
research studies. The company must provide all information on the health
consequences of the leaked gases.

3) Clean up the poison: Clean up toxic wastes and contaminated
groundwater in and around the Union Carbide factory site. Provide safe
drinking water to the community, and just compensation for those who
have been injured or made ill by this contamination.

4) Provide Economic and social support : The corporation must provide
income opportunities to victims who can not pursue their usual trade as a
result of exposure induced illnesses and income support to families
rendered destitute due to death or incapacitation of the breadwinner of the
family.

diane5forweb.jpg
Diane Wilson chained to Dow’s ethylene oxide tower & outside Warren Anderson’s house a few weeks later…

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