Eighteen years ago the American-owned Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India exploded. Eight thousand people died almost immediately, since then more than 20,000, or approximately ten each month, die from long-term effects of the poisoning. An additional 150,000 people suffer significant health impacts from their exposure.
Beginning in India and now stretching around the world, activists are engaged in a series of hunger strikes and demonstrations to urge the Indian government to reverse recent moves to reduce both Dow Chemical/Union Carbide’s accountability for cleanup, and criminal charges against Warren Anderson, CEO of Union Carbide at the time of the disaster.
On June 28 two Bhopal survivors, Tara Bai, 36, and Rashida Bi, 46, accompanied by long term Bhopal activist Satinath (Sathyu) Sarangi, 48, sat down outside the Indian Parliament in New Delhi, and vowed to take no food until the Government reversed its decision. Hundreds of gas survivors and their children joined demonstrations in New Delihi and in Chennai, Bangalore and Baroda. By mid-July protests were held in Cape Town, Madrid, London, Venice, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Ramatuelle and Castelfranc in France. In the USA there were actions in New York, Washington DC, Texas, Louisiana, Delaware, Ohio, Oregon, California and Florida.
Despite the worldwide protests, on July 17th the Indian government made a formal application to reduce Warren Anderson’s charges. The Court, however, accepted a counter-submission from the survivors' organizations and adjourned the case until August 27th.
With this news the hunger strikers in New Delhi ended their fast. On the same day, Diane Wilson, a fisherwoman in Seadrift, Texas who has long fought Dow Chemical’s pollution of Gulf waters, began a Worldwide Relay Hunger Strike. Diane has been fasting in her truck parked at the Dow Chemical gates for 24 days now.
In support of Diane and the hundreds of other activists that have joined the Relay Hunger Strike, activists have named August 9th "Quit India Day" and August 15th – Indian Independence Day – as ‘Freedom from Corporate Rule’ Day. They and many others concerned about the situation in Bhopal stress the importance of keeping worldwide attention focused on the Indian Court’s upcoming decision on August 27.
Organizations around the world have called for the following actions:
1. Join Diane Wilson outside Dow Chemicals in Seadrift, Texas at noon on August 15. Download posters and banner designs, also a map of Seadrift and directions from http://www.bhopal.net.
2. Call Dow Headquarters in Michigan (1-800-232-2436) demanding that Dow accept its liabilities and clean up its mess in Bhopal.
3. Demonstrate outside the nearest Dow facility, with the same demands Give them brooms so they get the point. A list of Dow facilities is available at http://www.bhopal.net.
4. Email strong protests to Dow media contacts listed at http://www.dow.com/dow_news/contact/.
5. Join the worldwide hunger strike – see details on http://www.bhopal.net/worldwide-action.
6. Sign the electronic petition addressed to the Indian government at http://www.corpwatchindia.org.
7. Hold a vigil outside your nearest Indian embassy on August 14th. Or send a petition asking the Indian government not to reduce the criminal charges. List your vigil at http://www.thokalath.com/embassy/index.php.
9. Copy this message and pass it on to your friends. (The Bhopal hunger strikers and activists can’t afford advertising.)
11. Send an email to Bhopal activists (http://www.bhopal.net) and Diane Wilson’s supporters (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell them what you’re doing to support this work, if you are joining any of the international actions, they will put you in touch with other groups in your area.