The LowDOWn – September 2010


1.  Conference

Register now for the 6th Annual North American Conference on Bhopal!  This year’s conference will be held at MIT in Cambridge, Boston, September 25-26.   Great things are in store for this year’s gathering, including presentations from leading Bhopal activists like Gary Cohen (Environmental Health Fund, Health Care Without Harm), Raj Sharma (New York-based lawyer representing the Bhopalis), and members of ICJB’s Advisory Board.  The conference is an opportunity for supporters to meet one another, and deepen their understanding of the Bhopal issue.  Registration closes September 17. 



2.  Day of Action: Crows take flight to Prime Minister Singh


Seattle activists make crows

झूठ बोले कौवा कटे        

If you tell a lie, the crow will bite. 

On August 24, activists in Seattle, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Canada sent origami crows to Indian consulates and the Embassy in D.C.  Back in May of 2008, the Prime Minister’s Office agreed to establish an Empowered Commission on Bhopal to engage survivors in economic, medical and environmental rehabilitation.  No such commission was ever established, so activists sent origami crows and letters reminding Prime Minister Singh to stay true to his word.

For 23 days, Bhopal activists braved the monsoon season to demand compensation, medical care, legal action, and site remediation.  As a result of their dedication and persistence, the sit-in protest created notable progress.  64 members of Parliament representing 20 different political parties signed a letter urging the PM to address long term rehabilitation and legal accountability before December 2010.  Also, the Madhya Pradesh state government begun free installation of water connections to individual households in contaminated areas around abandoned Union Carbide factory.  For photographs, press releases, and captivating blog writing by dharna participates, click here.

4. U.S. pressures India to drop Bhopal case

On August 18, Mumbai-based TimesNow leaked email communication between White House Deputy National Security Advisor Michael Froman, and Indian Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia. In response to an Ahluwalia’s email requesting assistance as India faces a sharp restriction in the World Bank’s lending, Froman replied:

 “We are aware of this issue and we will look into it.  We are hearing a lot of noise about the Dow Chemical issue. I trust that you are monitoring it carefully. I am not familiar with all the details, but I think we want to avoid developments which put a chilling effect on our investment relationship.

The threatening tone of Froman’s email elicited worldwide press coverage and mounting criticism of the Obama administrations double standards of corporate accountability.  Watch the TimeNow debate on the email’s implications here.

5. Indian Supreme Court: case reopenedActivists after June verdict. Photo: Christian Science Monitor

When the Supreme Court sentenced 7 top executives responsible for the 1984 catastrophe with a mere 2 years in jail and a bail of $2,000 USD last June, there was a public outcry in India and abroad.  On August 31, the Supreme Court accepted a government petition demanding harsher convictions, and investigation of Dow Chemical’s liability. 

6. In Pune, Dow Research and Development Center proposal rejected

For the past few years, Dow Chemical has been pushing to build a 400-cror research and development center outside of Pune (Maharastra).  Locals rallied against the project, until it became unfeasible to build the center.  Dow Chemical’s name is tarnished with corporate irresponsibility, especially its unresolved liability in Bhopal.  This latest victory demonstrates that people can and will stand up to corporations with unethical practices.





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