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Take Action! Support the Bhopali Screening Tour, Autumn 2013

Take Action! Support the Bhopali Screening Tour, Autumn 2013                  

 

Screening Tour 2013

     

Brought to you by

The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, North America.



 

The Bhopal gas disaster, as well as the slew of chemical disasters impacting communities around the world, reminds us of the need for people-power to hold corporate-power accountable. In preparation for the 30th anniversary, the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, North America, alongside Amnesty International Canada/USA, the Association for India's Development (AID) and our local allies, is organizing a North American Screening Tour of the critically acclaimed documentary, Bhopali. By bringing this film to a community near you, we hope to build solidarity with survivors & spread the message of this 29 year old struggle for corporate accountability. Please find the trailer at: www.bhopalithemovie.com   

But we need your help. Many of you have recently contributed in response to our 2013 Donor Mailing, and we are grateful for your support. Those of you seeking a new opportunity to donate, now is your chance!

Our goal is to raise $10,000 to cover the expenses of this tour by November 1st 2013

 

As we do not accept funds from corporations or governments, we rely on supporters like you to help us achieve our goals. We are asking for your generous support to make this screening tour a reality! If each recipient of this email donates $10 – we will reach our goal.

 

 

 

Accompanying this tour will be Bhopali survivor-activist, Sanjay Verma. Sanjay lost 7 members of his immediate family (parents and 5 siblings) in the Bhopal gas disaster, and has become a key voice in this ongoing struggle for justice.

 

 

 

This tour of Bhopali is brought to you by The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal North America (ICJB-NA), with support from the Association for India's Development (AID) and Amnesty International USA/Canada. It will take place from October – November 2013, and will travel across the United States and Canada.  

 

Tour Schedule:

Washington D.C. | October 5th | 3:00pm at the Armory Room, No. 0131, University of Maryland, College Park Campus
In partnership with the Association for India’s Development D.C.

Buffalo, New York | October 9th (date/venue to be confirmed)
In partnership with the Association for India’s Development, Buffalo chapter                                                                            

Toronto, Ontario | October 11th | 7:00pm at Beit Zatoun, 612 Markham St., M6G 2L8
In partnership with Amnesty International Canada and the Amnesty Business and Human Rights Group

Montreal, Quebec | October 12th | 7:00pm at J.A. de Sève Cinema, 1400 de Maisonneuve West, H3G 2V8
In partnership with Cinema Politica, the Council of Canadians, Amnesty International Canada, and the Association for India’s Development, Montreal chapter  

Chapel Hill, North Carolina | October 13th | Vimala’s Curryblossom Café, 431 W. Franklin St.
Fundraising dinner for ICJB

Chapel Hill, North Carolina | October 14th | 6:00pm at Room 121, Hanes Art Auditorium, University of North Carolina
In partnership with Croatan Earth First, the UNControllables and the Carolina Asia Centre

Boston, Massachusetts | October 18th (venue to be confirmed)
In partnership with the Association for India’s Development, Boston chapter, and ICJB Boston

Yellow Springs, Ohio | October 20th | 7:00pm at McGregor Hall #113, Antioch College
In partnership with the Antioch College Diversity Committee

Iowa City, Iowa | October 22nd | 7:00pm at 295 Levitt Auditorium, Boyd Law Building, University of Iowa
In partnership with the Association for India’s Development, Iowa chapter, and The University of Iowa Public Policy Center

Shreveport, Louisiana | October 25th (time/venue to be confirmed)
In partnership with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade

New Orleans, Louisiana | October 26th, 27th or 29th (date/venue to be confirmed)
In partnership with the Sierra Club – Delta Chapter and the Mother's Project – Gulf Coast

Lafayette, Louisiana | October 28th | 6:30pm at the Lafayette Public Library, South Regional Branch, 6101 Johnston St.
With Gulf Coast activist, Cherri Foytlin
In partnership with the Sierra Club – Delta Chapter and the Mother's Project – Gulf Coast

Austin, Texas | November 1st (venue to be confirmed)
With environmental activist, Diane Wilson
In partnership with Occupy Austin, the Austin Audio Co-op and the Association for India’s Development, Austin chapter

Tucson, Arizona | November 2nd | 4:00pm at Tucson Convention Center, Tear Down the Walls, the National Gathering for Global Justice
In partnership with the Alliance for Global Justice

Boulder, Colorado | November 4th | 5:00pm at the University of Colorado, Boulder
Los Angeles, California | November 8th (venue to be confirmed)

Seattle, Washington | November 13th – 16th (date/venue to be confirmed)
In partnership with the Association for India’s Development, Seattle chapter

Vancouver, British Columbia | November 19th | 7:00pm at the Norm Theatre, Student Union Building, University of British Columbia (6138 Student Union Boulevard V6T 1Z1)
With environmental activist, Dr. David Suzuki
In partnership with Cinema Politica UBC and Amnesty International Canada

New York City, New York | November 21st (time/venue to be confirmed)
In partnership with Ecosocialist Horizons and Scientific Soul Sessions

For updated information on tour stops, please contact Reena Shadaan at reena.shadaan@icjb.org or:

Visit our website: www.icjb.org
Follow us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Join our mailing list: icjb.us.ab@gmail.com

 

Please Donate Today!

 

                                                       

 

 
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US Congressmen tell Dow to clean up Bhopal

Ranjit Devraj, IPS, June 18, 2009
A campaign in the United States led by two girl victims from Bhopal, highlighting lingering toxicity left behind by the 1984 gas disaster in their city, has paid off with a group of 27 members of the U.S. Congress asking Dow Chemicals to clean up the site.

Sarita and Sareen, both in their teens, were taken on a 42-day tour of the U.S., starting Apr. 21, by the Bhopal Group for Information and Action (BGIA) so they could meet and interact with officials, academics and politicians in New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco and other cities.

Rachna Dhingra, a member of the BGIA team, described the intervention of 27 Congressmen as a “big step” in getting Dow Chemicals to accept responsibility for cleaning up the disaster site in Bhopal, which it acquired from Union Carbide in 2001.

“In the U.S. we had meetings with the State and Justice Department officials, who took keen interest in the issue of extradition of Warren Anderson, chairman of Union Carbide at the time of the world’s worst industrial disaster,” Dhingra told IPS over telephone from Bhopal.

A runaway reaction at the Union Carbide plant – said to have been caused by gross negligence – resulted in cyanide gas spewing into the streets of Bhopal city on the night of Dec. 3, 1984, killing more than 3,500 people instantly and at least 8,000 people in the first week. Further chemical damage affected more than 200,000.

Anderson managed to slip out of Bhopal and fly back to the U.S. – refusing to return to India to face criminal liability.

But the main agenda of the BGIA tour was to bring pressure to bear on Dow Chemicals to clean up the site where the pesticides factory stood – that remains saturated with toxic matter, forcing poor communities around it to drink contaminated water 25 years later, Dhingra said.
Satish Sarangi, who led the delegation, told IPS that the changed attitude was possibly the result of a more responsive administration under President Barack Obama. “Among those we met was Henry Waxman, Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, who had in 1984 chaired the congressional sub-committee on the Bhopal Gas Disaster and had promised a fresh hearing where Dow officials could be summoned.”

In a letter to Dow Chemicals, the senators have demanded that the company take responsibility for meeting the medical needs of the survivors and their economic rehabilitation, besides cleaning up the soil and water of the area around the site.

“We request that Dow ensures a representative appear in the ongoing legal cases in India regarding Bhopal, that Dow meets the demands of the survivors for medical and economic rehabilitation, and cleans up the soil and groundwater contamination in and around the factory site,” the lawmakers said in a letter to Dow chairman and CEO, Andrew Liveris.
“Despite repeated public requests and protests around the world, Union Carbide has refused to appear before the Bhopal District Court to face the criminal charges pending against it for the disaster,” the letter said. When served with a summons by a Bhopal district court in 1992, Union Carbide publicly refused to comply.

In 1999 Bhopal survivors filed a class action suit in U.S. courts against Union Carbide, asking that the company be held responsible for violations of international human rights law and for cleanup of environmental contamination in Bhopal. The case is one of a handful of international corporate liability cases that test the limits of corporations’ ability to use the laws of one nation to escape responsibility in another.
Congressman Frank Pallone was quoted as saying that, “after 25 years, the human and environmental tragedy of the Bhopal chemical disaster remains with us, while Union Carbide and Dow Chemical are yet to be brought to justice.”

Sarangi thought what may have helped draw support from such a large group of Congressmen was the fact that both India and the U.S. uphold the “polluter pays” principle in which the polluter – rather than public agencies – is made responsible for environmental pollution.

Indicating the double standards followed by Dow Chemicals, Sarangi said that while the company saw fit to set aside 2.2 billion dollars in 2002 against Union Carbide’s asbestos-related liabilities in the U.S., it has continued to evade liabilities in Bhopal.

Dow Chemicals had taken the stand that all liabilities were settled in 1989 when Union Carbide paid 470 million dollars to the Indian government, to be distributed to the survivors.

But NGOs based in Bhopal say the amount was paltry compared to the three billion dollars originally demanded by the government, and also did not take into account the after-effects of the gas leak on the city’s inhabitants – some 15,000 of whom are estimated to have died subsequently of various complications.

It has been estimated that victims ended up receiving less than 350 dollars for injuries, some of them lifelong. Also Union Carbide may have gotten away with costs amounting to 48 cents per share.

In 1991, the Supreme Court ordered Union Carbide to set up a super- speciality 500-bed hospital in Bhopal to look after the long-term needs of the survivors. But the bulk of the funds actually came from the sale of Union Carbide’s Indian shares – confiscated by a district court as penalty after the company ignored summons to appear in the criminal liability case.

According to Dhingra, what became the Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust facility was quickly ridden with corruption and mismanagement so that the real victims could never actually access any of its facilities.

Syed M. Irfan, who heads the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha (Movement For the Rights of Men and Women Affected by the Bhopal Gas Tragedy), told IPS the state government of Madhya Pradesh was as much to blame for the uncaring attitude towards the victims of the disaster and to residual toxicity.

“If Dow Chemicals does undertake to pay for reparations then it is important to involve the NGOs rather than leave it solely to the government,” Syed told IPS. “The fact is that even the creation of a separate ministry to deal with the gas tragedy has not helped the interests of the victims.”

According to Dhingra a priority for the survivors now is to hold the central government down to a solemn promise it made in August last year to set up an ‘empowered commission’ to look into all aspects of rehabilitation – including medical care of the survivors, income generation, social support and clean-up efforts.

That promise came after a dramatic month-long, 500-mile walk by a group of 50 people from Bhopal to the national capital where they set up camp for 130 days.

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Urgent: call your Representative in Congress and ask them to sign a letter to Dow

If you are living in the U.S., or are a U.S. citizen, please take a few minutes to take this action:

While in Washington D.C. for the Survivors’ Tour, we met with Congressman Pallone of New Jersey, who has been a strong supporter of the Bhopal Campaign for many years. This year, he has circulated another sign on letter to his colleagues in the House of Representatives, which is addressed to the CEO and Board of The Dow Chemical Company.

We need your help to make sure that the letter has as many members of Congress signed on to it as possible. We’re in the process of setting up a fax action, but in the meantime, we need people to start making calls!

Please take a moment to call your member of the House of Representatives today. You can find their name and number here.

If you can call today or during a work day, great. Otherwise, it’s great to leave messages as well!

Some sample talking points:

1. I am a volunteer/member of the Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.
-> If you get someone on the phone, you could ask to deal with the person Foreign or Environmental issues

2. I’m calling about the Congressional Sign on letter that Congressman Pallone has circulated. It’s addressed to Dow Chemical Company’s CEO and Board and it urges Dow to clean up the site of the world’s worst industrial disaster in Bhopal, India and to face the rule of law in India.

3. I want to make sure the Congress member knows how strongly his/her constituents, like myself, feel about the Bhopal Issue. I sincerely hope that Congress member XX will sign on to the letter.
-> If you’re actually talking to an environmental or foreign affairs aide, you could ask them if they think that the Congress member will sign it or if they want you to send a copy if they haven’t seen it.

Please email shana@panna.org and let us know how your calling went and if the representative signed on. Don’t be shy about following up!

Some more background info:
In 2003, Congressman Pallone sponsored a Congressional letter to Dow that had 16 members signed on. In 2006 and 2008, he sent a letter to the Prime Minister of India, each carrying the signatures of 16 members.

We need to make sure that the letter this year has more signatures than ever before!

The letter Pallone has written is very strong and urges Dow to take responsibility for cleaning up Bhopal and to show up in court.
The letter says:

“There is a “polluter pays” principle in the domestic laws of both India and the United States, as well as both domestic and international law. It states that the polluter, rather than the public agencies or taxpayers, should be held responsible for its environmental pollution in its entirety…. At the time of your company’s acquisition of Union Carbide, Bhopal survivors, supporters, and Dow shareholders warned Dow against acquiring the company because of its pending liabilities. As the parent company of Union Carbide, Dow bears the responsibility for Union Carbide’s liabilities.”

Congress letter:
Linked here is the full letter, in case you are asked for a copy.

Please make sure that Dow hears from your Congress Representative!

Many thanks!
Shana Ortman, Rachna Dhingra, Sarita Malviya, Safreen Khan

International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal and Children Against Dow Carbide

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Echoes of Bhopal in California

Rashida Bee, Margie Richards from Norco, Louisiana, Hilton Kelley from Port Arthur, Texas — all residents of toxic hotspots — today went on a toxic tour of one of the Bay Area Bhopals, guided by Denny Larson of Bucket Brigade fame and Henry Clark of the local NGO West Country Toxic Coalition.

Richmond, California is one of USA’s own slow-motion Bhopal, where communities are gassed on a daily basis and subjected to the threat of an impending disaster on the scale of Bhopal. The similarities with Bhopal are startling — powerful corporations, historically oppressed communities, toxic pollution, cover-ups by polluters and regulators, and widespread ill-health among the residents. The drive up there is spectacular, a medley of thickly vegetated landscapes and the ever present Bay with its numerous bridges.

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Rashida surveys the West Coast’s largest oil refinery, owned by Chevron Texaco

Tucked away within the affluence of the San Francisco Bay Area is the little toxic neighborhood of North Richmond, a predominantly african american and latino area — a third world in a first world setting.

“It is amazing to see places like Richmond in America. If this is the way they treat their own people, it is little wonder that Union Carbide treats the Bhopalis so badly,” said Rashida Bee after her tour of the Chevron legacy.

Home to the West Coast’s largest oil refinery run by Chevron Texaco, Richmond has been the site of numerous protests in recent years given Chevron’s interests in keeping the war in Iraq going. Condoleeza Rice, an ex-director of the Chevron board, is currently one of the leading spindoctors on the Gulf war.

The word “Bhopal” finds tremendous resonance among the environmental justice activists here. Not only did the aftermath of the disaster trigger a busy phase of community organising against the disaster potential and ongoing pollution in Richmond, it also inspired local communities to fight for better toxics monitoring and disaster warning systems. But as Henry Clark put it, “We didn’t get anything without a fight. Without organisation and an organised fight, we couldn’t have won a thing.”

In the 21 years of its existence, West County Toxics Coalition has made environmental justice an accepted phrase in the vocabulary of the locals and in the policy books of the city and the State.

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Chevron Texaco’s contribution ot the environment of North Richmond, California

Despite the organised and growing resistance, incidents of pollution and spills are routine. In our 90 minute tour of the industrial estate, we saw inadequately remediated superfund sites, billowing clouds of black smoke from one of the numerous facilities dotting Chevron’s 3000 acre complex, stacks of empty chemical containers, the site of an old incinerator that used to tower over the school grounds in town, the seemingly dilapidated factory of General Chemicals from where a leak of sulphuric acid in 1993 sent 20,000 people to the hospital.

Much like in the Bhopal case, where the Government of India offered to withdraw criminal charges against the Union Carbide as part of a negotiated settlement, in Richmond too, the state prosecutors withdrew criminal charges against General Chemical in return for a $5.1 million settlement. In Bhopal, though, public pressure forced the Government to reinstate criminal charges against Carbide.

Just as in Bhopal, where people are fighting GOvernment efforts to siphon off compensation funds, the Richmong community had to fight a pitched battle to ensure that the $5.1 million obtained in settlement did not disapear into state funds, but was actually spent on setting up a health clinic for the community.

The Richmond community has been able to win for itself basic health services, an emission monitoring and warning system and an Environmental Justice law that calls for fair treatment of all peoples when it comes to enforcement of environmental law, they are yet to get the companies to submit an evacuation plan in the event of a disaster. However, Clark feels more optimistic about the future: “Now we have a Community Advisory Council as part of the Municipal agency. All development plans have to be approved by the council. Only companies that are clean, green and provide local jobs will be allowed to set up.”

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Rashida et al at the Health Centre fought for by the local community

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San Francisco asks Dow to produce Carbide for trial

The City of San Francisco has become the first US city to pass a resolution urging Dow to address its liabilities in Bhopal. “It is unforgivable that survivors of the disaster are being revictimized by the inaction of Union Carbide and its new owner Dow Chemical,” said City of San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin today.

The historic resolution was announced during a reception at which the San Francisco City Board of Supervisors handed Rashida Bee and Champa Devi, newly arrived in the US, a “Certificate of Honor” on behalf of the City. “We urge Dow Chemical to do the right thing by addressing its pending liabilities in India”, said Supervisor Peskin. “More importantly, Dow Chemical should demonstrate its respect for the law by producing its subsidiary Union Carbide to face trial in the criminal proceedings against it in India.” The City resolution observed that “Union Carbide Corporation is currently an offender in the eyes of the Indian Government after the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court in Bhopal proclaimed the company an absconder from justice for its failure to honor the process of law.”

Also present at the reception was relentless scourge of Dow Diane Wilson – on appeal from a 120 day jail sentence for making the same point – for an emotional first meeting with Rashida and Champa.

“After 20 years of disappointment and rejection by the companies and the Indian and US authorities, it is actions such as these that give us the strength to keep fighting till justice is done,” Rashida said. Sadly, Dow were unavailable for comment.

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Rashida, Champa and Diane together for the first time!

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Press Release

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