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Dow under global siege on December 3rd

More than 65 events in 16 countries marked the first Global day of Action Against Corporate Crime in commemoration of the 1984 Union Carbide gas disaster. Members of unions, students, grassroots organisations, politicians, NGOs, individuals and Bhopal survivors were amongst the people taking part yesterday. Directors of Dow and regional headquarters have been confronted by protestors offering evidence of ongoing crimes in Bhopal.

Students across the US delivered samples of contaminated water from Bhopal to the homes of eleven of Dow’s fourteen Board members, including the CEO, William Stavropoulos. At Princeton University Dow director Harold Shapiro was given contaminated water from Bhopal communities. “We feel that this was a clear admission of liability on the part of Dow-Carbide,” said Sujata Ray, a member of Students for Bhopal. “Now that Dow-Carbide has accepted a sample of this contamination, thanks to Mr. Shapiro, we hope that the company will act swiftly to clean up its remaining pollution in Bhopal. Until it does so, we intend to continue and intensify our organizing here at Princeton and across the country.”

In Mumbai over 100 students, volunteers and activists lay down on the pavement on Marine Drive to recreate the horror of Bhopal. Chalk outlines were drawn around the ‘bodies’ on Marine Drive and banners displayed saying ‘Remember Bhopal’ and ‘Dow – you have the blood of Bhopal on your hands.’ “Bhopal has become the icon for corporate negligence resulting in death and destruction, representing the thousand Bhopal-like disasters that take place all across India,” said Vinod Shetty, an eminent lawyer and ICJB activist.

In Switzerland, ICJB member Greenpeace delivered a replica of the memorial statue that stands outside the factory in Bhopal to Dow’s European headquarters in Horgen. In Copenhagen, Greenpeace activists also drew the outline of corpses on the ground in front of the Dow offices while others protested in front of the American Embassy. Greenpeace also announced a campaign to invite people around the world send a toxic message in a bottle to Dow.

In the Scottish parliament, Scottish Socialist Party MP Frances Curran presented a Bhopal motion (S2M-668 Frances Curran: Bhopal Anniversary) reiterating each of the survivors’ demands to Dow. In London, members of the Global Women’s Strike and the ICJB used a sound system to broadcast facts about Dow and Bhopal to the Houses of Parliament. “War profiteers Dow-Carbide sold huge amounts of pesticides that cause death by asphyxiation to Iraq, nine months after Halabja,” said the ICJB’s Tim Edwards, “the gassing of Halabja was used by the US and Britain as one reason to mobilise a war against Iraq. Yet the gassing of Bhopal, a much larger city than Halabja, has left Dow-Carbide carrying on business as usual. They must be brought to justice.”

In Bhopal, survivors have been exhilarated by events. “This year with help from supporters worldwide we have succeeded in pressuring the Indian government to move on the extradition of Warren Anderson and have mobilized international opinion against Union Carbide’s new owner Dow Chemical at an unprecedented scale. As we enter the 20th year of our struggle for justice, there are protests against Dow Chemical all over India and the world,” said Rashida Bee of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh (BGPMSKS). BGPMSKS, a trade union of gas-affected stationery workers in Bhopal is also the co-convenor of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal. “We are confident that we will be able to force Dow Chemical and the Indian government to address pending liabilities in Bhopal.”

A huge huge thanks and big Bhopali hugs to all those who have taken part in the Global day of action. Please keep checking the GDA updates page for more news and details of the international actions as they come in.



Students from 26 colleges, universities and high schools organized nationwide protests against Dow Chemical yesterday, Dec. 3rd, as a part of the first-annual Global Day of Action Against Corporate Crime. Dow Chemical, which was key manufacturer of chemical warfare agents Napalm and Agent Orange, faced such widespread protests for the first time since the Vietnam War due to its February 2001 acquisition of Union Carbide — the perpetrator of the Bhopal disaster. The protests, organized by Students for Bhopal , Association for India’s Development (AID) chapters, and the Environmental Justice Program of the Sierra Student Coalition (SSC) , called on Dow to accept its moral and legal responsibility for the world’s worst industrial disaster.

On December 3rd, 1984, a toxic cloud of gas from the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, enveloped the surrounding city, leaving thousands dead. More than 20,000 have died till date and more than 120,000 people still suffer from severe health problems as a result of their exposure. Chemicals and heavy metals that Union Carbide abandoned at the site—including mercury, trichloroethene, chloroform, and lead—have contaminated the water supply for 20,000 Bhopal residents. Despite acquiring Union Carbide, Dow Chemical has refused to address Carbide’s pending liabilities in Bhopal, that include medical and economic rehabilitation of victims, clean up of toxic wastes and contaminated groundwater, and provision of safe drinking water. Union Carbide is a proclaimed fugitive from justice for its failure to appear in Indian courts to face trial for manslaughter.

Students across the country delivered samples of contaminated water from Bhopal to the homes of eleven of Dow’s fourteen Board members, including the CEO, William Stavropoulos. Although many of the deliveries were either refused or ignored, Dr. Harold T. Shapiro, the President Emeritus of Princeton University and an 18-year member of Dow Chemical’s Board of Directors, accepted a sample of the contaminated water following an open talk to the Princeton community on bioethics. Dr. Shapiro also accepted the testimonial of a Bhopal victim.

“The contamination that Dow-Carbide left behind in Bhopal is their responsibility, and it belongs in their hands,” said Sujata Ray, a member of the Princeton AID chapter that presented the water. “We’re pleased that Dr. Shapiro, when faced with the consequences of his company’s inaction in Bhopal, accepted a sample of the contamination on behalf of Dow-Carbide. Unfortunately the behavior of the other Board members typifies that of Dow-Carbide, which continues to deny and evade their legal and moral responsibilities in Bhopal.”

“Clearly, the water contamination in Bhopal is an issue that needs to be brought ‘home’ to Dow-Carbide,” declared Jaimini Parekh, an SSC member who organized a “return-to-sender” action against Board member Jackie Barton. “Dow-Carbide has seemed content to condemn the survivors of Bhopal to wallow in the contamination that it left behind. 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.”

Several rallies were held outside of Dow-Carbide offices and facilities, including those in Dallas, Texas and Smithfield, Rhode Island. As during the Vietnam War, students also protested against college affiliations with Dow-Carbide, including recruitment, investment, and financial contributions.

“Students are outraged,” said Ryan Bodanyi, an organizer with Students for Bhopal. “They don’t want their colleges and universities accepting money from a corporation that maintains its profit margins by poisoning people and blithely standing aside as they die. Dow-Carbide’s callous disregard for the value of human life hasn’t changed much since the Vietnam War, and students aren’t going to be any more forgiving now than they were then. Dow-Carbide should expect these protests to continue and intensify.”

“We’re not going to allow Dow-Carbide to get away with murder,” declared Nishant Jain, one of the leaders of AID’s Austin chapter. “Enron’s crimes may have cost people their retirement portfolios, but Dow-Carbide’s crimes in Bhopal have cost tens of thousands of people their health and their lives. People are fed up with corporate violations of our labor, environmental, and human rights, which is why so many people have united to take action on the anniversary of Bhopal, a particularly heinous corporate crime.”

Thousands of people from sixteen countries participated in the Global Day of Action in solidarity against Dow-Carbide and other corporate criminals. Events and actions took place in 16 cities across India, including Bhopal, as well as in the Netherlands, UK, USA, Lebanon, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Philippines, China, Denmark, Switzerland, Spain, Bangladesh, Canada, and Italy.

CONTACT: Ryan Bodanyi, Students for Bhopal, (401) 829-6192
CONTACT: Nishant Jain, Association for India’s Development, (512) 422-7169
CONTACT: Jaimini Parekh, Sierra Student Coalition, (626) 355-9612
CONTACT: Sujata Ray, Association for India’s Development, (609) 279-0952

Students participated at:
Brown University
University of California (Berkeley)
University of Chicago
University of Colorado (Boulder)
Flintridge Preparatory School (Sierra Madre, CA)
Georgia State
Georgia Tech
Highland Park High School (Dallas, TX)
University of Illinois (Urbana-Champlain)
Johns Hopkins University
Lake Forest College
Loyola University
University of Maryland (College Park)
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota
Penn State (University Park)
Portland State University
Occidental College
Reed College
Rhode Island School of Design
Sewanee College
University of Texas (Austin)
Wheaton College

Students delivered samples of Bhopal’s contaminated water to Dow Board members Arnold Allemang (Midland, MI), Jackie Barton (San Marino, CA), Anthony Carbone (Midland, MI), Willie Davis (Playa Del Rey, CA), Barbara Franklin (Washington, DC), Keith McKennon (Portland, OR), J. Pedro Reinhard (Midland, MI), James Ringler (Lake Forest, IL), Harold Shapiro (Princeton, NJ), William Stavropoulos (Midland, MI), and Paul Stern (Potomac, MD).


1 Students for Bhopal, the student arm of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB), is a national coalition of student groups dedicated to raising awareness about the disaster, advocating for the people of Bhopal, and increasing the pressure against Dow-Carbide to accept its moral and legal responsibilities in Bhopal. More information is available at www.studentsforbhopal.org and www.bhopal.net.

2 The Association for India’s Development (AID) is a voluntary non-profit organization committed to promoting sustainable, equitable and just development in India, by working with grassroots organizations and movements in India. More information is available at http://studentorgs.utexas.edu/aidaustin/bhopal/index.html

3 The Environmental Justice Program (EJP) of the Sierra Student Coalition (the student-run arm of the Sierra Club) is a national community of youth working for environmental justice. The EJP is devoted to advancing the principles of environmental justice in our society, and believes that all human beings deserve a healthy, sustainable, livable, and beautiful environment that provides security for our families and communities. More information is available at www.ssc.org/subdomains/departments/ej.

United against Dow: Horgen, Copenhagen, London, Mumbai and Bhopal.

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Dec 3rd is ‘No Pesticides Day’: PAN calls for Paraquat ban

STOP Paraquat! On the occasion of global “No Pesticides Use Day” this December 3, the international Pesticide Action Network (PAN) calls for the global ban and phase out of the production and use of paraquat, one of the most dangerous and controversial herbicides in the world.

The international Pesticide Action-Network launched December 3 as the global “No Pesticides Use Day“ in commemoration of the world’s worst chemical disaster in 1984. Every year on December 3 campaigns are initiated in many countries to remind of the hazardous effects of pesticides on human health and environment.

This year, PAN AP and several partners are undertaking activities on December 3 to commemorate the Bhopal tragedy,and these are in solidarity with the BHOPAL DAY OF ACTION AGAINST CORPORATE CRIME.


Joint PAN Press Release
December 2, 2003

STOP Paraquat!
On the occasion of global “No Pesticides Use Day” this December 3, the international Pesticide Action Network (PAN) calls for the global ban and phase out of the production and use of paraquat, one of the most dangerous and controversial herbicides in the world.

The non-selective herbicide paraquat is sold by Syngenta and other producers in more than 100 countries. Gramoxone(TN), manufactured by Syngenta, is the most common trade name for paraquat. Paraquat is extensively used on bananas, cocoa, coffee, cotton, palm oil, pineapple, rubber and sugar cane, both on plantations and by small-scale farmers.

Paraquat has been heavily criticized for the adverse impacts on workers since the 1960s. Globally, workers and farmers, who are regularly exposed to paraquat experience serious problems with their health. Paraquat is an extremely hazardous substance: it has been known to damage the lungs, heart, kidneys, adrenal glands, central nervous system, liver, muscles and spleen, causing multi-organ failure. The herbicide causes severe acute and long-term health problems such as severe dermatitis, second degree burns, nosebleeds, rapid heart rate, kidney failure, and respiratory failure. Some chronic effects have also been identified: an association with developmental and reproductive effects, as well as links to skin cancer and there is mounting evidence linking it to Parkinson’s disease. The high toxicity and lack of antidote leads to serious ill health, and even death, from exposure.

Studies have also indicated that paraquat has lethal effects on hares and birds, and is embryotoxic and teratogenic to frogs. It poses a risk to non-target terrestrial and aquatic plants, and readily binds to soil particles and hence accumulates in soils.

Due to these facts the notorious occupational poison paraquat has been on the PAN international list of “Dirty Dozen“ pesticides since 1985.

Conditions of use and realities in developing countries of the South—high temperature and humidity, lack of protective clothing, leaking knapsack sprayers, illiteracy, lack of facilities for washing, or medical treatment, and repeated exposure—compounds the concern that safe use of paraquat is not possible in these countries, in spite of ‘safety’ claims by the industry.

Because of its high toxicity, paraquat is already either banned, severely restricted or restricted in fourteen countries, including five EU member states and the United States of America.

“Last year Malaysia was the first Asian country to ban and phase out the use of paraquat. To prioritise global protection of human health and the environment, a world wide ban of the toxic herbicide paraquat has to follow now“, asserts Sarojeni V. Rengam, Executive Director of Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Asia and the Pacific.

Unfortunately, the EU decided in October 2003 not to ban Paraquat. The European Commission is aware of the dangers of Paraquat, but nevertheless had approved its use, ignoring growing number of member states who openly rejected an EU-wide approval of paraquat, postponing a vote at the last four committee meetings. PAN has emphasised that this controversial decision was made in the European context, and therefore cannot have any implication for other regions, especially developing countries.

On November 24, 2003, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe, PAN Asia and the Pacific and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, sent an official ‘Open Letter’ of protest to the European Commission, calling on the Standing Committee to take urgent action following the inclusion of paraquat to the Annex 1 of the Pesticides Authorization Directive 91/414. The Commission’s authorisation of 3 October 2003 is being used to challenge regulatory decisions taken to protect human health in other countries, and to demand registration even when local conditions will pose significant risks to pesticide users.

Due to the serious health and ecological threats from paraquat use, on the occasion of the global “No Pesticide Use Day”, December 3, the international Pesticide Action Network (PAN) demands that:

 Syngenta, the main producer of paraquat, stops the production of paraquat
 Syngenta takes full responsibility and assumes liability for the severe health effects on communities resulting from paraquat use
 The authorities in all countries ban the use of paraquat
 Paraquat be replaced with safer and more sustainable pest control methods


• For the international PAN Position Paper on paraquat please see: http://www.panap.net

It is also available here: DOC1

• To view the joint Open Letter to the European Commission see: http://www.panap.net

December 3 – Reminder of the pesticide catastrophe 1984 in Bhopal
The international Pesticide Action-Network launched December 3 as the global “No Pesticides Use Day“ in commemoration of the world’s worst chemical disaster in 1984. That day in Bhopal (India) a pesticide factory exploded, releasing a toxic gas that caused more than 500,000 injured and 20,000 deaths in the years since. Every year on December 3 campaigns are initiated in many countries to remind of the hazardous effects of pesticides on human health and environment.

This year, PAN AP and several partners are undertaking activities on December 3 to commemorate the Bhopal tragedy,and these are in solidarity with the BHOPAL DAY OF ACTION AGAINST CORPORATE CRIME also taking palce on December 3, 2003, to Take Action Against Corporate Crime on the 19th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster. For more information visit: https://www.bhopal.net or Email: globalaction@bhopal.net

For more information, contact:

PAN Africa : Abou Thiam, panafrica@pan-africa.sn, tel: 00221-825-49-14

PAN Asia – Pacific (www.panap.net ): Sarojeni Rengam, panap@panap.net, tel: 0060-4-657-0271

PAN Germany (www.pan-germany.org): Carina Weber, presse@pan-germany.org, tel: 0049-40-3991910-0

PAN Latin America – RAPAL (www.rap-al.org): Maria-Elena Rozas, rapal@rapal.cl, tel: 0056-2-3416742

PAN North America (www.panna.org): Monica Moore, panna@igc.org, tel: 001-415-981-1771

PAN UK (www.pan-uk.org): Barbara Dinham, admin@pan-uk.org, tel: 0044-207-274-88-95

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Urgent Action Alert: Coca Cola pollution protestors arrested, falsely accused

Kerala: people protesting the Coca Cola Plachimada facility’s contamination of local groundwater and land – with toxins such as cadmium and lead – are experiencing repression at the hands of local police and company hirelings. 13 peaceful protestors – two of whom are leading activists against Coca Cola – have been arrested and falsely accused of trying to destroy company property. During 480 days of non-stop peaceful protests there have been over 300 arrests so far, after Coca Cola managers announced that the demonstrations, which have been supported by writers, poets, academics, scientists, engineers and health personnel amongst others, were “politically motivated”. The demonstrators, primarily adivasis, believe that Coca Cola is attempting to depict their protests as ‘extremist’ in order to bring them under the ambit of State anti-terrorist measures – and the local police seem to be obliging the company managers.

Please write to the Keralan Chief Minister to demand the unconditional release of the protestors and the withdrawal of false charges.


13 activists were arrested on 30 August 2003 at Palakkad when they were holding a peaceful demonstration in front of the Kerala Ground Water Board. The demonstration was organised by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties – Kerala to voice their protest against the inefficieancy of the Board in tackling the ground water problems created by Coca Cola Plachimada unit despite daily protests since 22 April 2002 by primarily the Adivasis who are the worst affected. Various government departments had also confirmed the existance of the problems – all related to the ground water.

Amongst the arrested were Venugopal Vilayodi, the General Secretary of PUCL-Kerala and Arumugham Pathichira both of whom are also key activists and leaders of the Coca-Cola Virudha Janakeeya Samara Samiti (Anti Coca Cola Peoples Struggle Committee) who has been spearheading this long drawn out struggle.

The arrested have been remanded for 5 days and falsely accused of attempting to destroy the office etc in an attempt to falsely and deliberately create an image of being ‘extremist’ or ‘terrorist’. The Revenue Divisional Officer, the DySP and other Senior Police officials were involved in the swoop to arrest the peaceful slogan shouting protesters. It may be recalled that a few days earlier, on 28 August 2003, the Coca Cola godown at Kochi (more than 200 kms away from Plachimada) was set on fire which has been widely publicised by the police and the media as possibly the handiwork of ‘extremists’.


There have been numerous arrests (over 300 arrests made at different times) times in the past over 480 days of continuous non-stop agitations. Ever since the Coca Cola Company announced that the struggle was ‘politically motivated’ it was clear that the struggle was planned to be crushed under the garb of fighting ‘extremism’ and ‘terrorism’.

It is noteworthy that – this is a democratic struggle of the people – this struggle has been peaceful without any incident of any violence (though there has been false cases foised against the agitators from time to time), despite repeated police provocation to incite violence, despite instigation and threats from the hirelings and goondas of Coca Cola management. – this struggle has been supported by the widest possible sections from across the state and other parts of the country – Gandhians, the radical left, the left, the socialists and democrats. There has been active support from numerous writers, poets, academics, scientists, engineers, health personnel and others. A large number of orgainsations have actively participated or supported the struggle.


The Coca Cola company had clearly contaminated the ground water, contaminated the land with carcinogens, drained the acquifers, sold or donated toxic wastes as fertilsers, gave more pesticides to drink in their drinks and lied at every step. They have been cornered and exposed. YET they continue to function freely !!

The manner in which the present arrests have been made, the manner in which the police have twisted their report to point out a finger to them as ‘extremist’ now after all this, indicates the unfolding collusion of the state government to put down the struggle by strong arm tactics.

It is indicative that the Congress led United Democratic Front of A.K Antony is all set to extend the collusion with Coca Cola by not only delaying any action against the company despite the piling up of official documents which indict the company on numerous counts, but also in building up a George Bush style ‘extremism’ bogey as the core of this democratic struggle. This, we fear, is designed to unleash violence and terror against the peaceful protesters – the Adivasis and others – to protect Coca Cola !!!


1999: Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages Ltd starts the Plachimade Unit 22 April 2002: Struggle launched against Coca Cola for the closure of the factory.

7 April 2003: Perumatty Panchayat revoks the Coke factory’s licence.

25 July 2003: BBC Radio announces that the samples of water and wastes sold by Coke as soil conditioner (but used by local farmers as fertiliser) contained dangerous levels of heavy metals (carcinogenice) such as cadmium and lead confirmed after testing in the laboratory at University of Exeter.

6 August 2003: The Kerala State Pollution Control Board confirms that Coke’s bottling plant at Plachimada had indeed been polluting the groundwater and agricultural land in and around its plant and that the existence of carcinogenic contaminants in the waste was confirmed. The Board also instructs the company not to let the sludge out of the factory premises and to stop distribution of the sludge as manure even within the factory premises. The Public Health Department had confirmed that the ground water around the plant in not ‘potable’. The Kerala Ground Water Board had confirmed the depletion of the ground water.

What you Can Do?
1. Send protest telegrams/fax messages/letters to:
Mr.A.K.Antony, Chief Minister
Government of Kerala
Address Office : Room No:141, IIIrd Floor, North Block,
Secretariat, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India
Tel: +91-471-2333812, 2332184, 2333682, 2518666, 2512040
Fax: +91-471-2333489.
Email: chiefminister@kerala.gov.in

In your letter,
– Protest against the arrest, and demand the unconditional release and withdrawal of false cases against activists;
– Demand immediate criminal action against Coca Cola, closure of the plant, compensation for the destruction of the water resources and restoration of the ecology.

2. Share this information with all those concerned about survival rights, human rights, environmental rights and the predatory nature of globalisation and multi-national companies.

3. Issue press releases condemning the arrests demanding the immediate closure of the Plachimada plant of Coca Cola.

4. Organise protests against Coca-Cola, a symbol of giant global predator

Yours in struggle

Veloor Swaminathan
Coca-Cola Virudha Janakeeya Samara Samithy (Anti Coca Cola Peoples
Struggle Committee)
Kannimari P.O
Palakkad District
India 678 534

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Bhopal survivors arrive in the US

April 22nd – Rashida Bee and Champa Devi Shukla, gas affected survivors and leaders of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karamchari Sangh (Bhopal Gas Affected Women’s Stationery Workers’ Union / BGPMSKS), and Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action arrived in Texas, US today for a 40 day tour. During their tour, Rashida Bee and Champa Devi will visit various communities affected by Dow Chemical, and also engage in strategic discussion with support groups to strengthen their struggle for justice. The survivors will also be confronting senior executives of Dow and shareholders at the company’s annual shareholder meeting with Dow’s pending liabilities in Bhopal, on May 8th in Midland, Michigan. Mrs. Champa Devi stated, “It’s been two years since we first met with Dow officials in India, and in this time we’ve not received a single concrete proposal on how they’ll address their responsibilities in Bhopal. So long as babies in Bhopal nurse on mothers milk that contains toxic chemicals, DOW’s name will remain internationally associated with corporate injustice.”

See the survivors’ full tour schedule and press statement here.

Find Tour information resources here.

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