Tag Archives: hunger strike

Major trade unions extend their support to the Bhopal activists on hunger strike and pledge to take up the matter with the Prime Minister tomorrow.

New Delhi, June 22, 2004:With just seven days left for the Union Government to send a positive communication to the US District Court in the Bhopal contamination clean up case , several major trade unions of India have decided to swing into action. They have pledged to raise this matter with the Prime Minister of India in a meeting tomorrow. The trade unions which extend their solidarity include Hind Mazdoor Sabha [HMS], All India Federation of Trade Unions [AIFTU], National Trade Union Initiative [NTUI], All India Agricultural Workers Union [AIAWU], All India Central Council of Trade Unions [AACCTU], All India Agricultural Labour Association [AIALA], National Federation of Indian Women [NFIW] of All India Trade Union Congress [AITUC].

“This is a matter of utmost importance. By sending this communication to the US Court, the government has everything to gain and nothing to lose”, felt the trade union representatives, referring to the enormous costs involved in the clean up, as well as the technological expertise required for remediation of the site.

This morning, the three hunger strikers, Ms Rasheeda Bi, Mr Shahid Noor and Mr Satinath Sarangi, who are in the fifth day of their indefinite fast to press the Indian government to act immediately, addressed representatives of various trade unions and appraised them about the inaction by the Indian government.

“After the meeting with the trade union representatives, it was heartening to see that many like-minded groups believe that this letter to the US Court should have been sent by the Indian government by now. The contaminated communities have suffered for many years now and the toxic mess needs to be cleaned up immediately. Given that this is a unique opportunity to get the polluter to pay, it is inexplicable why the Indian government should delay sending this letter’, remarked Shahid Noor who has been on a fast since June 18th. Shahid was orphaned by the gas leak in 1984 and heads an organisation of people orphaned by the disaster called Bhopal ki Awaaz.

The delegation of Bhopal activists also met with Mr Oscar Fernandes who assured them that he had written to all three ministries concerned, Law, Environment and Chemicals & Fertilisers, requesting them to act in time. Others who spoke with the hunger strikers and extended support today included M C Mehta, Goldman Prize Winner and Amarjeet Kaur of All India Trade Union Congress. At the time of filing of this update, the Law Ministry officials had not yet drafted any communication clarifying their stand.

For more information on the campaign, please visit:

https://www.bhopal.net or http://www.greenpeaceindia.org or http://www.studentsforbhopal.org

Join the petition campaign and send a webfax

You can also contact the following persons or numbers for more information:

Ms Rasheeda Bi, Mr Shahid Noor and Mr Satinath Sarangi, the three hungerstrikers on the following mobile numbers: +91-98-102-02105 or +91-755-3132298; Ms Anuradha Saibaba on + 91-98-119 -03172 or 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:

vgopal@dialb.greenpeace.org; campaigns@theothermedia.org; kavitha_kuruganti@yahoo.com

1. On March 17th 2004, a New York District Court provided a unique opportunity to clean up of toxic contamination in and around the Union Carbide factory premises, by ruling that if the Indian government or Madhya Pradesh government urges the US Court to order such relief before June 30th 2004, then the lower court can order Union Carbide to clean up the abandoned factory site and its surroundings. This is in the Sajida Bano et al vs Union Carbide and Warren Anderson case.
Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India. Campaigners remain quietly hopeful that his new government will act to end the suffering of thousands of Bhopalis

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While The Law Ministry Dithers, Leading Legal Luminaries and Political Stalwarts Unanimously Opine that it is a “Golden Opportunity” that shouldn’t be missed: Hunger Strike Without Water by Bhopal Activists Enters Day 3

New Delhi, June 20, 2004: As the last day for the Indian Government to send a letter to the US Federal Court in New York for clean up of toxic contamination in and around its factory in Bhopal draws closer [June 30th being the deadline], the Law Ministry is stalling progress on this matter by mixing up clearly distinct issues. of claims arising out of the gas leak and claims related to contamination in and around the Union Carbide factory. The Law Ministry opines that all claims related to Bhopal have been addressed in the Supreme Court settlement case of 1989 with Union Carbide Corporation.
Meanwhile, many legal experts in India have come forward to express their strong disagreement with the Law Ministry’s stand. “There are no legal hurdles before the Indian government in submitting …. a letter before the concerned US Court”, confirms Justice V R Krishna Iyer, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India. Many other legal luminaries like Indira Jaisingh, M C Mehta, Rajeev Dhavan, Usha Ramanathan etc., concur with Mr Krishna Iyer. In fact, the US Court itself has come up with its March 17th landmark ruling [saying that Union Carbide can be ordered to clean up its abandoned factory site if the Indian government or the State of Madhya Pradesh …..urges the Court to order such relief], after brushing aside Union Carbide’s own stand on the matter which was similar to that of the Indian Law Ministry.

As the countdown for the Indian Government to send its letter stands at Day 10, the indefinite hunger strike without water by three Bhopal activists including the Goldman award winner of 2004 Ms Rasheeda Bi entered Day 3. “We fail to understand why the Law Ministry should side with Union Carbide when the Supreme Court has long back upheld the Polluter Pays principle in this country”, says Rasheeda Bi. “In any case, the government has neither the technology nor the resources to clean up the contamination in and around the premises. How much more longer should the people of Bhopal continue to suffer Union Carbide’s misdeeds?” she asks. The other two activists joining her in the hunger strike include Mr Shahid Noor who was orphaned because of the gas leak disaster and runs an organisation for other youngsters orphaned like him, and Mr Satinath Sarangi, Member, Bhopal Group for Information and Action.
Doctors attending on the three hunger strikers have expressed serious concern over the rapid deterioration of the health of the activists considering that they are going without water and food in the hot and humid summer of Delhi. They warned that the dehydration would set in soon, and have advised that the activists should discontinue their fast immediately.
Many leading personalities joined hands with the Bhopal activists in urging the Government of India to act fast and make good this opportunity presented by the US Court. Swami Agnivesh was with them when they began their hunger strike on June 18th, along with more than 400 supporters from Bhopal. Former Prime Minister V P Singh expressed his support and solidarity. Ms Jaya Jaitley and Ms Nirmala Deshpande were the others who visited the hunger strike site at Jantar Mantar. Comrade Varadarajan of CITU also extended his support to the cause by meeting the activists.
Mr Kapil Sibal, Union Minister for Science and Technology who met the activists yesterday evening, promised to do whatever he can, while saying that as a lawyer, he also disagrees with the Law Ministry’s stand. Union Minister Mr Oscar Fernandes came to meet the hunger strikers on being appraised of the situation and promised that he would take up the matter with the Law Ministry as well as the legal unit of the Congress party.
Even as efforts to move the Law Ministry to change its opinion continued, hundreds of supporters across the world have gone on a relay hunger strike to express their solidarity and to put pressure on the Indian government to put an end to the long-drawn suffering of the Bhopal survivors. Thousands of fax and email petitions have been sent to the Prime Minister of India to intervene in the matter. As the deadline for the Indian government to send a letter to the US Court approaches closer, everyone hopes that the government will at least now take the side of the Bhopal survivors, rather than the culprit multinational corporation.
For more information on the campaign, and to join the petition campaign, please visit:
https://www.bhopal.net or
http://www.greenpeaceindia.org or

You can contact the following persons/numbers for more information:
Ms Rasheeda Bi, Mr Shahid Noor and Mr Satinath Sarangi – the hungerstrikers on the following mobile numbers: +91-98-102-02105 or +91-755-3132298
Ms Vinuta Gopal on +91-98-455-35418 or Ms Kavitha Kuruganti on +91-80-36882103 or Ms Anuradha Saibaba on + 91-98-119 -03172

You can send an email to the following addresses:

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Law Minister gets his facts wrong.

Survivors’ leaders Champa Devi Shukla and Rashida Bee who recently won the Goldman Award and Vinuta Gopal went and met Law Minister Mr. Hans Raj Bharadwaj at 1pm at his office in Shastri Bhavan. The minister did not ask them to sit down (nor did he sit down himself, in fact he kept moving towards the door so that the Bhopal delegation was gradually “pushed out” of the door) and spent just five minutes with them. He said he has seen all the papers and this issue of the Indian government submitting a statement is connected with the Bhopal Act. He said all this has been covered by the 1989 settlement. He was given a petition which he refused to accept. The delegation requested him again to accept the petition. He took it and threw it on his table without reading or even taking a look at it. He said the Law Ministry has already given its opinion on the matter and now it was left to the Ministry of Chemicals to decide. He asked the delegation whether they wanted to teach law to him. Then he asked the delegation to leave. It seems we have to teach Mr Bahadwaj the law. Eminent Indian lawyers say he is wrong. You can take action to ensure that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chemicals Minister Paswan know the legal facts about the situation. Please read on for news of other meetings. Hunger strike diary here.

Meeting with Director, Bhopal Cell, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.

The delegation of three [Champa Devi, Rashida Bee and Vinuta Gopal] met with Mr. Harish Kumar the official in charge of Bhopal matters in the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertlizers at 2.30 PM. On entering his room they found his table covered with faxes. He said we can not do any work because of the faxes that are reaching here from USA and other countries.He asked them to sit down. he said he knew all about the US Court’s decision and the demand of the campaign groups. He said he has sent copies of the US Court order, petitions by campaign organizations and the letter from the MP government to the Law Ministry. He said the Law Ministry has opined that the issue of contamination is covered by the settlement of 1989.When the delegation pointed out that the matter of contamination was unrelated to the disaster or the settlement, Mr. Harish Kumar stated that it was his opinion too. Mr. Kumar said that he was in communication with the Law Ministry about it because that Ministry’s opinion was crucial for a final decision. Mr. Kumar suggested that the delegation meet again with the Minister of Chemicals and Ferttilizers. The delegation informed Mr. Kumar about the decision to go on fast without water.As the delegation was walking out Mr. Kumar’s secretary walked in with a pile of freshly arrived faxes.

Meeting with Dr Hosa Bettu, Director, Hazardous Substances Management Division, Ministry of Environment and Forests

The Bhopal delegation met with Dr. Bettu at 5.15 PM at the Paryavaran Bhavan, CGO Complex.. The delegation presented their case. Dr. Bettu said he was fully aware of the matter and had sent his opinion to the Governments of India and Madhya Pradesh two days back.He said that the Madhya Pradesh government should have directly submitted a statement in the US Court. He said he has recommended that the statement should be submitted.

Meanwhile Mr. MC Mehta, Lawyer, Goldman award winner in 1996, said “this is a golden opportunity for the Indian government and it must make best use of it”. Usha Ramnathan, internationally reputed academic in law and retd Chief Justice Krishna Iyer extended full support to the campaign to get Indian government to submit the statement.

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Stavropoulos is incompetent says PR chief Musser

Dow Chairman and CEO Stavropoulos lied to shareholders when he said that Union Carbide face no criminal charges in India

As reported earlier this week by bhopal.net, Dow Chairman and CEO Stavropoulos lied to shareholders when he said that Union Carbide faced no criminal charges in India.

“Our chairman did misspeak,” sighs Dow doublespeak supremo John Musser. For “misspeak” read “put his foot so far down his throat that it came out the other end and doofed him up the arris”.

Sorry, Musserji, it’s more serious than that. “Pants on fire” used the misspeaking to obscure a crucial point, of great significance for Dow shareholders. He had been asked why Dow had accepted Carbide’s US asbestos liabilities and not its Indian Bhopal liabilities. He replied that the reason was because Carbide was being litigated against in the US whereas in India Carbide faced no on-going litigation.

Now that he knows different, Dow presumably can have no further problem in accepting Union Carbide’s Indian liabilities.

Dow shareholders will of course quickly reach the same conclusion, which is no doubt why “Pants on Fire” has not yet bothered to tell them that he “misspoke”.

Dow shareholders need to know that Union Carbide, whose asbestos liabilities have already cost them something like half a billion, is a criminal fugitive from justice in India, where Dow has substantial assets and is likely to be named soon as an accused in place of its absconding subsidiary. The potential liabilities arising out of what the London Independent called “Union Carbide’s rape of Bhopal” will make the asbestos money seem like a fleabite.

As one Dow employee earlier this week said (see story below) “Oh yes, Union Carbide: I still don’t understand why we bought them out, it was a big mistake. We have enough trouble with Agent Orange in our history. We do try to be a responsible company, but this sort of thing really doesn’t help.”

Guess which idiot masterminded the Dow takeover of Union Carbide. Guess who ignored the worried protests of Dow shareholders who even took out a lawsuit to stop him?

According to John Musser, “We are fully aware that Union Carbide and Anderson were both named in the criminal charges in India.” Well, John, you can’t have it both ways. Either Stavropoulous knew the facts, or he didn’t. He certainly should have known. If he aggressively pushed through the takeover in ignorance of Carbide’s criminal record, he deserves to be fired.

If he pushed through the deal in full knowledge, then he has deliberately lied to shareholders about a matter which could cost them their company. He deserves to be fired.

Join the global hunger strike for justice.

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Global hunger strike begins

Bapuji, if you could see the terrible things that are being done to the poor, we know that you would be fasting beside us.

WASHINGTON DC, 12 MAY. Watched by the statue of Mahatma Gandhi outside the Indian Embassy in Washington DC, the three hunger strikers today marked the end of their personal fast by calling on supporters and justice campaigners around the world to take over and fast in relays from now until the 19th anniversary of the Bhopal gas disaster. STATEMENT AND APPEAL HEREJOIN THE GLOBAL FAST FOR JUSTICE HERE


Washington, D.C. 12 May, 2003 — Two women survivors and a long-time Bhopal activist today ended their 12-day hunger strike for justice in Bhopal at the Gandhi Statue in front of the Indian Embassy today in Washington, D.C. They called upon supporters worldwide to sign on to the Worldwide Relay Hunger Strike for Justice in Bhopal and keep it alive until the 19th Bhopal anniversary on December 3, 2003.

More than 40 people, including representatives from PACE International Union, Greenpeace, Health Care Without Harm, D.C. Collective, Code Pink Women for Peace and Association for India’s Development attended the gathering, and issued statements in solidarity.

Mr. Anil Chowdhry, Minister for Personal and Community Affairs, met the Bhopal delegation and assured them that he would communicate to the Government of India their demands, extradition of Anderson and inclusion of Dow Chemical as an accused in the Bhopal criminal case.

The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, a global coalition led by survivors, declared December 3 as the Global Day of Action Against Corporate Crime and has appealed to trade unions, public interest organizations and those protesting the abuses of globalization to observe the day by organizing activities to fight for justice against corporate crimes in their localities.

“Justice delayed is justice denied. The Indian Government should expedite the extradition of Warren Anderson and move rapidly to include Dow in the criminal case against Union Carbide in Bhopal,” said Rashida Bee, president of the Bhopal Gas-affected Women Stationery Workers Association, a trade union that is a member of the global coalition. Despite repeated orders by the Bhopal district court to expedite the trial, the Indian Government has been reluctant to bring UCC and Anderson to justice fueling speculation that it has succumbed to pressure from the US multinational.

On May 8, the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal confronted Dow Chemical, the new owners of Union Carbide, outside its annual shareholders meeting in Midland, Michigan. Addressing shareholders, Dow chairman William Stavropoulos stated that Union Carbide – a wholly owned subsidiary of Dow Chemical – does not face criminal charges in the Bhopal court. However, as recently as April 9, 2003, the Central Bureau of Investigation had indicated to the court that it will submit a report on including Dow as an accused in addition to Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) in the ongoing criminal case. In 1986, UCC, its former chairman Warren Anderson and ten others were charged with manslaughter among other crimes. Neither Anderson nor UCC have appeared in court to face trial.

“In merging with UCC, Dow has acquired a fugitive from justice. By failing to subject itself to the Indian legal system, Dow is trying to evade its responsibilities and has exposed its callous disregard for the law of the land,” said Satinath Sarangi of ICJB. Sarangi, along with Bee and her colleague Champa Devi, began an indefinite fast from New York’s financial district on May 1.

Having handed over the hunger strike to supporters around the world, the Bhopal delegation will travel around the United States raising awareness about Dow’s crimes in Bhopal and build resistance against
the company. More than 200 people from 19 countries have already joined the global fast.

The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal is a global coalition led by the survivors of the 1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal. Billed as the world’s worst industrial disaster, the Union Carbide gas leak killed 8000 within three days of the disaster and exposed more than 500,000. ICJB calls upon Dow, the new owners of Union Carbide, to face longstanding criminal charges against Carbide in India, release toxicological information regarding the poison gases, arrange for long-term medical rehabilitation and monitoring, provide economic rehabilitation and social support for survivors’ children, and clean up the toxic wastes and contaminated groundwater in and around Carbide’s old factory site. The demand to the Government of India is to ensure that Dow is held accountable.

For more information, visit: www.bhopal.net
Contact: Nityanand Jayaraman. Cell: 520 906 5216.
Email: nity68@vsnl.com
Krishnaveni G. Cell: 832.444.1731. Email: krishnaveni_g@sbcglobal.net

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