(May 9, 2003) Eight days into an indefinite fast, two women survivors of the worlds worst chemical disaster in Bhopal, India brought the disaster home to top executives of Dow Chemical, Union Carbides new owners. The survivors addressed Dow shareholders and leadership at Dows Annual General Meeting (AGM), demanding that the company take responsibility for the health consequences and environmental impacts of their operations in Bhopal and other communities poisoned by Dow and its subsidiaries elsewhere.
With graphic eleven-foot banners of gas-affected Bhopal residents as a backdrop, activists held up photographs of Bhopal residents affected Dow's pollution at a rally outside the shareholder meeting in Midland. More than thirty people from the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, a global coalition campaigning to hold Dow accountable for the Bhopal legacy, attended the rally and shareholder meeting.
A delegation from the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal will meet Dow Chairman and CEO William Stavropoulos on May 8th after the AGM. The delegation will reiterate its demands of Dow and will also extend an offer to Mr. Stavropoulos to personally come and visit the Bhopal community and abandoned factory site.
Mrs. Rasheeda Bee
and Mrs. Champa Devi Shukla, survivors and leaders of the trade union
Bhopal Gas Affected Women Stationery Workers Association, and long-time
Bhopal activist Satinath Sarangi, launched their fast on May 1, 2003,
at a demonstration in New York's financial district. To date more than
130 people have fasted in solidarity with the trio, thirteen indefinitely.
"Dow can deny its liabilities all it wants. But its liabilities and our struggle will only grow as time passes. As long as Carbide's toxic legacy continues to haunt Bhopal, Carbide's liabilities will haunt Dow and its shareholders," said Sarangi. On April 25, victims and survivors organizations reopened a recently dismissed class action suit seeking clean up and compensation for contamination-related damages, by filing an appeal in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. Union Carbide currently faces criminal charges, including manslaughter, in a Bhopal court for their role in the gas disaster.
Last year, socially
responsible investment firms with over $13 billion in assets sent a letter
to Dow highlighting its liabilities in Bhopal and express the need for
urgent action. Since the Union Carbide merger, Dow has suffered serious
financial losses, prompting industry observers at Forbes and Business
Week to highlight the Carbide purchase as a likely bad investment and
future liability for the company.
The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal calls upon Dow 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.
For more information, visit: www.bhopal.net.
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