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Appeal From Bhopal Survivors' Struggle

An Appeal

15 April, 2010

Dear Friend of the Bhopalis,

We are writing to you for your active support to our campaign demanding the setting up of an Empowered Commission on Bhopal (ECoB) by the Indian government for long term medical care and rehabilitation of the people of Bhopal poisoned by Union Carbide – Dow Chemical. As you know we urgently need the ECoB to be set up to stop the ongoing disasters in Bhopal that are still killing, injuring and maiming the unborn.

Your support has meant a lot to us and has contributed hugely to our victories in the last two years, particularly in the campaigns and the Padyatras of 2006 and 2008. As you know, we won the demand of the much needed ECoB on 29th May 2008 when, on behalf of the Prime Minister, the Minister of State in the PM’s office (PMO) publicly vowed that the government would establish the ECoB. This statement from the PMO came only after thousands of our supporters from over 30 countries sent faxes and emails and made calls to the PMO.

However, these promises have proven worthless as 20,000 people are still drinking poisoned water; 10,000 gas victims who were promised jobs remain jobless; medical treatment for the indigent victims remains elusive; the site and its surroundings are polluted, and the culprit – Dow Chemical – is freely doing business in India. Nearly two years have passed, and the Prime Minister has not set up the ECoB. The minister who read out the Prime Minister’s statement to us now says he does not quite know why the ECoB has not been set up and requested that we send yet another reminder, which we did on 6th Apr 2010. We have yet to hear from the PMO. Meanwhile, we (including 16-year-old Sarita and 75-year-old Ganeshi Bai and our supporter friends from Chennai) have been falsely charged under sections of criminal law that taken together could send us to jail for over 10 years.(details)

We reckon that this year’s battle will be more difficult than 2008’s. At the Parliament Street police station, in the office of Suraj Bhan who led the custodial assault on Bhopali children and women on June 9, 2008, we were told that we can no longer camp on the pavement at Jantar Mantar as we have before because of the Commonwealth Games scheduled for October

With public space for protest potentially taken away, we need your support more than ever.

We have announced the beginning of our indefinite Dharna at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi starting on the 15th of April to demand that the Prime Minister keep his word and set up the Empowered Commission. (press statement) to remind PM Singh of his promise and force him to stop neglecting the citizens of Bhopal who have endured this corporate crime with embarrassingly little aid from their own government for the last 25 years.

Please find some time to do one or all the actions suggested below to remind Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh of his two year old promise.

· Fax the PM by logging on to http://www.bhopal.net/take_action.php?i=12

· Call the PM and remind him to fulfill the promise he made to people of Bhopal

91-11-23013024, 23013040 (Ask for Ms. Vini Mahajan or Mr. T.K.A Nair respectively)

· Write to PM at Government of India, South Block, Raisina Hill, New Delhi, 110 011.

· Write to your Members of Parliament asking them to meet the Bhopalis, talk to PM about their demands or raise questions in Parliament. (contact list of MPs)

· Hold a solidarity action in your city. See Bhopal.net and studentsforbhopal.org for ideas and contact us for more information.

· Contribute towards the food and accommodation expenses of the Bhopalis coming to Delhi for the Dharna. You can send checks made out to The Other Media to the address The Other Media, J-42 South Extension, Part one, New Delhi 110049. Please enclose a piece of paper saying that it is for the ICJB Delhi dharna 2010 and your address so we can send an income tax exemption. You can contribute online at https://www.panna.org/system/give/onlineDonationICJB.php

Why do we need a commission?

An Empowered Commission on Bhopal will address the health and welfare needs of the Bhopal survivors and monitor their environmental, social, economic and medical rehabilitation. The Commission will be empowered to allocate resources to different rehabilitation schemes or research projects, issue tenders, identify implementing Central or State Government agencies, and change the agencies if their work is unsatisfactory. In short the commission will be a step towards ensuring a comprehensive resolution to Bhopal.

For more information visit www.bhopal.net

Rashida Bee,
Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh

Syed M Irfan,
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha

Rachna Dhingra,
Satinath Sarangi,
Bhopal Group for Information and Action

Safreen Khan
Children Against Dow Carbide