In the lead up to the 25th anniversary, of the 1984 Union Carbide gas tragedy, more than 300 Bhopalis Dow Chemical in effigy in front of their office in Noida, near New Delhi, declaring that protests to force Dow to Quit India will continue till the American multinational accepts its liability in Bhopal. Survivors demanded that Dow Chemical produce its subsidiary Union Carbide in the ongoing criminal case in Bhopal and pay for clean up of toxic contamination and consequent health damage.
Survivor organisations pointed out that while Dow proclaims its innocence to the media it continues to run away from dialogue with its victims. In Europe, over the past month, two Dow offices – Dow Benelux and Dow Sweden – promised to meet a delegation of Bhopal survivors and supporters. Both cancelled in the last minute after receiving instructions from the head office in Midland, Michigan.
Supporters from more than 80 locations in 20 states around India, in addition to 50 locations in 17 countries have expressed their intent to take action in support of the Bhopal survivors this year. Dow offices in several parts of the world will be the target of demonstrations by supporters in the week beginning 3 December, 2009. Countries where solidarity activities are planned include Germany, Italy, France, United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, Israel, Switzerland, Thailand, China, Philippines, Cambodia, Hongkong, South Africa, Canada and the United States. More registrations are expected to come in by 25 November.
“The Bhopal survivors asserted that because of their and their supporters struggle, Dow Chemical has not been able to make any significant investment in the country after it took over Union Carbide in 2001. And now that the second generation of survivors have also joined the struggle things will only go worse for Dow Chemical,” said Hazra Bee, long time leader of the survivors.
Just in the last three years, Dow sponsorship and jobs have been rejected by students and faculty from Indian Institutes of Technology in Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Kharagpur and Kanpur. Earlier this Month, The Hindu newspaper returned sponsorship money taken from Dow Chemical for a music festival and apologized for their mistake. Earlier Indian Oil Company cancelled a contract with Dow Chemical when they found that the technology being sold to them was actually developed and owned by Union Carbide.
Last year, protests in Maharashtra stopped the construction of Dow global Research & Development Center near Pune. In 2007, Dow Chemical was fined $325,000 by the US Securities & Exchange Commission for having paid more than $200,000 in bribes to Indian agriculture ministry officials. Survivors also expressed victory on the letter issued by 27 US congressman asking Dow Chemical to clean up Bhopal. The Bhopal survivors demanded that the CBI initiate immediate action on the basis of its investigations into this bribery matter.
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