INDIAN GOVERNMENT BOWS TO PRESSURE, AGREES TO SUBMIT STATEMENT TO U.S. COURT IN THE UNION CARBIDE-BHOPAL CONTAMINATION CLEAN UP CASE.
New Delhi, June 23, 2004: Six days after three Bhopal activists began their hunger strike, the Government of India finally bowed to pressure and agreed to submit a statement to the New York District Court in the Bhopal contamination clean up case. This statement now has to reach the US Court before the deadline of June 30th. The activists have been assured that the New York Court has already been alerted by the Indian government.
Upon receiving this communication from the Prime Minister’s Office, the three activists who have been on a hunger strike since June 18th broke their fast in the presence of many trade union leaders and supporters including Swami Agnivesh.
“This statement brings us one step closer to a historic order by the US Court directing Union Carbide to clean up the toxic contamination in and around the factory premises in Bhopal,” said Satinath Sarangi, ICJB activist and one of those on hunger strike. “Such an Order will not only uphold the ‘Polluter Pays’ principle, but will set a precedence to hold multinational companies accountable in their home country for their actions abroad.”
More than 20,000 people from over 14 bastis have been affected by the serious contamination emanating from the tonnes of toxic chemicals and chemical waste dumped in and around the Union Carbide factory premises. They, and their supporters from around the world, now expect the US District Court to order Union Carbide to clean up the contamination at Bhopal to the best global standards possible.
“We hope that the Prime Minister who intervened in this matter will show the same kind of sensitivity and alacrity in dealing with other pending issues in Bhopal and in holding Union Carbide’s new owner Dow Chemicals liable for the pending issues in Bhopal. These include criminal justice as well as economic and medical rehabilitation issues of the gas leak-affected and contamination-affected people of Bhopal”, said Rasheeda Bi, winner of the Goldman Prize 2004, who has also been on hunger strike since June 18th along with Mr Shahid Noor. Mr Noor, orphaned by the gas leak in 1984, currently runs Bhopal Ki Awaaz, an organization for similarly orphaned persons.
Thousands of petition mails and faxes have been sent from the USA and many other countries including India to the concerned ministries and the Prime Minister urging them to act fast, and make good the opportunity provided by the US Court. Hundreds of Bhopal supporters who have also been on hunger strike in solidarity with the three activists fasting at Jantar Mantar, celebrated the good news by breaking their fast.
HUGE THANKS TO ALL WHO SENT EMAILS AND FAXES AND THOSE WHO JOINED THE HUNGER STRIKE AROUND THE WORLD.
For more information on the campaign, and to join the petition campaign, please visit:
https://www.bhopal.net, http://www.greenpeaceindia.org or http://www.studentsforbhopal.org
For further information:
Ms Rasheeda Bi, Mr Shahid Noor and Mr Satinath Sarangi: +91-98-102-02105 or +91-755-3132298; Ms Anuradha Saibaba on + 91-98-119-03172; Ms Vinuta Gopal on +91-98-455-35418 or Ms Kavitha Kuruganti on +91-80-36882103
You can send an email to the following addresses:
firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Swami Agnivesh, one of many leaders who came to be with the Satyagrahis when they ended their fast earlier today in New Delhi.