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Bhopal vigil in support of Vietnamese Agent Orange victims

Staff of the Sambhavna Trust Clinic in Bhopal, and a large number of their supporters held a vigil at Roshanpura Square today in support of the victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam.

The Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange have declared August 10th, the first day that the US army sprayed chemicals over Vietnam, to be Vietnam Day for Agent Orange Victims. Holding candles and carrying pictures of Vietnamese victims, members of Sambhavna collected signatures on a global petition in solidarity with the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin.

The petition supports the class action lawsuit filed by the Vietnamese victims in the US federal court. The suit seeks compensation from Dow Chemical and 36 other American chemical companies, which produced Agent Orange for the US army. Dow Chemical Company is the present owner of Union Carbide Corporation that caused the gas disaster in Bhopal in December 1984.

From 1961 to 1971, during its invasion of Vietnam, the US army sprayed 79 million litres of Agent Orange and other defoliants to destroy over 3 million hectares of forests in southern Vietnam. Agent Orange contained a high content of toxic dioxin, which caused genetic changes, cancer and deformities in the affected victims and their children and grandchildren. Of the 3 million victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam over 50, 000 have died of cancer and other diseases caused by exposure to Dioxin. Currently there are 50 thousand Vietnamese children with cleft lip, missing or shortened limbs, paralysis and other birth deformities.

The Sambhavna Trust Clinic provides free medical care to the survivors of the December 1984 gas disaster as well as to the residents of the communities affected by ground water contamination by Union Carbide. Please visit www.bhopal.org for more information about the Clinic.

Sign the Vietnam petition here

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Chomsky joins 340 other academics in signing Bhopal petition

Professor Noam Chomsky of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a man many consider to be the Einstein of linguistics but perhaps best known for his outspoken opposition to American imperialism and foreign policy, has joined hundreds of other professors, scholars, and faculty members from around the world in signing the Faculty Petition for Justice in Bhopal.

“I have followed the case, and have written about it now and then. It is a horrendous scandal,” he wrote, shortly after signing the petition. Dozens of other faculty members from around the world have also written to express their support. “I’ll forward it to as many colleagues as I can,” wrote Ronald Loeffler, a faculty member at Carleton College in Minnesota. “I will also check whether Carleton has Dow shares and, if so, make a stir about it. The petition is really a powerful, meticulous indictment.”

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Professor Noam Chomsky

Over 340 faculty members from over 135 colleges have signed the petition, including nearly all of America’s most eminent universities. Faculty members from universities in Canada, Italy, Japan, Great Britain, South Africa, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Ireland, Singapore, India, and Hungary have also signed.

“The support has been overwhelming,” said Ryan Bodanyi, an organizer with Students for Bhopal. “Faculty petitions with this many supporters are extremely rare. If we are able to collect more than a thousand signatures by the 20th anniversary this December, as we’re hoping, that would represent a powerful statement of support by the world’s academic community, and a powerful indictment of Dow’s continuing obfuscation and delay.”

“I was one of the students protesting your company at the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 1963,” wrote Nancy McCagney, University of California Religious Studies Visiting Scholar (retired professor), “and I protest your immorality in refusing to take responsibility for your actions in Bhopal India. Swallow your shame and get busy cleaning up the toxins you released into the Bhopal environment. This is the world you and your children and grandchildren live in too.”

The faculty petition is available online at www.petitiononline.com/dirtydow/

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