For Immediate Release Thursday, March 23rd, 2006
International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal
Diana Ruiz 415-999-9074 (PT-Cell)
Carolyn Oppenheim, 413-584-9645,
Aquene Freechild, 617–378–2579 (ET) (@ Rally)
Sekhar Jammalamadaka (301) 717-1059 (@ Rally)
Nishant Jain, + 91 9811764745
Advocates for survivors of the 1984 Bhopal Chemical Disaster are demanding a ban on expansion of Dow Chemical businesses in India, and are rallying in Washington DC from 12-2pm rally on Friday, March 24th at the Indian Embassy in Washington DC. In a meeting scheduled with the Indian Embassy’s Chief of Mission, they will deliver their request: that the Indian Prime Minister, in New Delhi, meet with a delegation of over 60 Bhopal survivors arriving Monday – at the end of their 500-mile, month-long march from Bhopal to New Delhi.
At issue are six demands of the marchers. Indian and American supporters want the Indian government to ban any permits for new business in India for the US-based Dow Chemical until the company faces charges of culpable homicide for the Bhopal disaster. An estimated 8,000 people died almost overnight on December 3rd, 1984 when a toxic gas leak swept from the plant into the city.
Johannes Manjrekar of Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia, one of the organizers of the rally, said: “Dow Chemical, current owner of the Union Carbide plant that perpetrated the disaster, is still responsible for this tragedy, yet the Indian government is actively encouraging Dow to build new plants in India, increasing the odds that calamity strikes again.”
Nirveek Bhattacharjee of Association for India’s Development, a national organization and another of the rally’s sponsors, added: “The Indian Central Government has failed to prevent the horrific poisoning of 20,000 people from contaminated water from the abandoned plant, or assist actively in the manslaughter case against Dow.”
Students for Bhopal, a national organization with more than 60 campus chapters, is another sponsor.
In a letter of support released today from Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) with 20 signatures from congressional colleagues, Pallone wrote: “It is unacceptable to allow an American company the opportunity to exploit international borders and legal jurisdictions so that they can evade civil and criminal liability for environmental pollution and abuses committed overseas.”
National and state labor unions representing Dow Chemical workers also support the Bhopal Survivors, including the International and Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Worker’s Union, representing 300,000 workers, who unanimously passed a resolution calling for an “International Day of Action Against Corporate Crime” in support of Bhopal trade union workers and inviting its US union members to take action supporting the demands of the International Campaign for Justice against Dow Chemical Corporation (ICJB).
Pressure from the survivors has already blocked a deal between Indian Oil and Dow. Survivors seek to stop Dow from aggressively marketing in India its neurotoxic pesticide Dursban, now banned for home use in the US after the severe poisoning of several children. The survivors are also demanding clean water and medical care from the Indian Government after 21 years of death and pollution caused by Dow Chemical’s current subsidiary Union Carbide. Complete demands are below.
Of the half million survivors, 10-15 still die monthly from the disaster’s effects and the poisoned water ~ 22,000 have died in total. Union Carbide abandoned the site and paid a meagre settlement averaging $300-500 per person. Carbide has been declared a “fugitive from justice” by Indian Courts; the company’s current owner Dow Chemical refuses to face the charges.
Demands of the Bhopal-Delhi marchers:
1. Set up a National Commission on Bhopal (health care, research)
2. Provide Safe Drinking Water (where Bhopal groundwater is contaminated)
3. Prosecute Union Carbide/Dow and former Carbide CEO Warren Anderson
4. Make Dow clean up and pay (for the clean-up of toxic contamination)
5. Blacklist Dow and Union Carbide in India (stop sale of Dursban and halt any new plants)
6. Declare a National Day of Mourning for Victims of Industrial Disasters on the Bhopal Anniversary 12/3
ATTENTION JOURNALISTS: For visuals: a 7-foot replica of the Bhopal Memorial, a sculpture of an Indian woman holding a dead baby fleeing the gas, will be on display at the rally. The sculpture, which stands at the front of the abandoned Carbide plant in Bhopal, was designed by a Dutch Holocaust survivor, Ruth Waterman, who lives today in the Netherlands. A photo of the statue is on the ICJB website.
To arrange interviews with Bhopal marchers contact Madhumita Dutta or Nishant Jain and for US based support groups contact Diana Ruiz. Video footage of the march available upon request.