Activists End Hunger Strike
12 May, 2003
Two women survivors and a
long-time Bhopal activist today ended their 12-day hunger strike for
justice in Bhopal at the Gandhi Statue in front of the Indian Embassy
today in Washington, D.C. More than 40 people, including representatives
from PACE International Union, Greenpeace, Health Care Without Harm,
D.C. Collective, Code Pink Women for Peace and Association for India's
Development attended the gathering, and issued statements in solidarity.
Mr. Anil Chowdhry, Minister
for Personal and Community Affairs, met the Bhopal delegation and assured
to communicate to the Government of India their demands -- namely, extradition
of Anderson and inclusion of Dow Chemical as an accused in the Bhopal
The Campaign called upon
supporters worldwide to sign on to the Worldwide Relay Hunger Strike
for Justice in Bhopal and keep it alive until the 19th Bhopal anniversary
on December 3, 2003. The global coalition, International Campaign for
Justice in Bhopal, declared December 3 as the Global Day of Action Against
Corporate Crime and has appealed to trade unions, public
interest organizations and those protesting the abuses of globalization
to observe the day by organizing activities to fight for justice against
corporate crimes in their localities.
"Justice delayed is
justice denied. The Indian Government should expedite the extradition
of Warren Anderson and move rapidly to include Dow in the criminal case
against Union Carbide in Bhopal," said Rashida Bee, president of
the Bhopal Gas-affected Women Stationery Workers Association, a trade
union that is a member of the global coalition. Despite repeated orders
the Bhopal district court to expedite the trial, the Indian Government
has been reluctant to bring UCC and Anderson to justice fueling speculation
that it has succumbed to pressure from the US multinational.
On May 8, the International
Campaign for Justice in Bhopal confronted Dow Chemical, the new owners
of Union Carbide, outside its annual shareholders meeting in Midland,
Michigan. Addressing shareholders, Dow chairman William Stavropoulos
stated that Union Carbide - a wholly owned subsidiary of Dow
Chemical - does not face criminal charges in the Bhopal court. However,
as recently as April 9, 2003, the Central Bureau of Investigation had
indicated to the court that it will submit a report on including Dow
as an accused in addition to Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) in the
ongoing criminal case. In 1986, UCC, its former chairman Warren Anderson
and ten others were charged with manslaughter among other crimes. Neither
Anderson nor UCC have appeared in court to face trial.
"In merging with UCC,
Dow has acquired a fugitive from justice. By failing to subject itself
to the Indian legal system, Dow is trying to evade its responsibilities
and has exposed its callous disregard for the law of the land,"
said Satinath Sarangi of ICJB. Sarangi, along with Bee and her colleague
Champa Devi, began an indefinite fast from New York's financial district
on May 1.
Having handed over the hunger
strike to supporters around the world, the Bhopal delegation will travel
around the United States raising awareness about Dow's crimes in Bhopal
and build resistance against the company. More than 200 people from
19 countries have already joined the global fast.
The International Campaign
for Justice in Bhopal is a global coalition led by the survivors of
the 1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal. Billed as the world's worst
industrial disaster, the Union Carbide gas leak killed 8000 within three
days of the disaster and exposed more than 500,000. ICJB calls upon
Dow, the new owners of Union Carbide, to face longstanding criminal
charges against Carbide in India, release toxicological information
regarding the poison gases, arrange for long-term medical rehabilitation
and monitoring, provide economic rehabilitation and social support for
survivors children, and clean up the toxic wastes and contaminated groundwater
in and around Carbide's old factory site. The demand to the Government
of India is
to ensure that Dow is held accountable.
For more information, visit:
Contact: Nityanand Jayaraman. Cell: 520 906 5216.
Krishnaveni G. Cell: 832.444.1731.