Bhopal LowDOWn - Summer 2012

The summer edition of ICJB's newsletter, the LowDOWn. Get the news on recent actions against Dow, the latest on the ground in India, and shout-outs to some of our most dynamic activists.                  

       Brought to you by the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, ICJB


In this issue:

1. Protest Central
  • The Justice Element
  • Flashmob!

2. Updates from the Ground

  • The Bhopal Special Olympics
  • Deadline set for removal of Bhopal Toxic Waste
  • Union Carbide wins dismissal of suit over Bhopal factory - for now!

3. In Memory

  • We will miss you Ward Morehouse

4. Activist Corner

  • Shout-Out to Caitlyn Schuchhardt and our Michigan activists
  • An Interview with Alex Masi, award winning photographer

5. Take Action!

 


1. Protest Central

  • The Justice Element

Watch “The Justice Element” video here and then sign this important petition!  “The Justice Element” is ICJB’s three minute video response to Dow Chemical’s campaign “The Human Element” and shows the truth behind Dow’s attractive but deceitful propaganda. It demands that the Indian Government and Dow Chemical end their chronicle of gross negligence, bringing JUSTICE to the people of Bhopal. Put these demands into action, and sign the petition at Avaaz.org - The World in Action, which was begun by Meredith Alexander, our most recent campaign champion, who resigned from her membership with the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 in protest of Dow’s Olympic Sponsorship.
 

  • Flashmob!

To mark the 10,000th day of the Bhopal gas disaster and to protest the partnership of Dow Chemical and the London Olympics, the Boston chapter of ICJB organized a series of awareness campaigns across Boston and Cambridge on the 15th and 21st of April, 2012.  Activists “flashmobbed” across the city to the new anthem of the ICJB campaign, “Dow Don’t Really Care About Us,” inspired by Michael Jackson’s iconic song. The protest was received well by the general public and the group reached out to over 200 people. Watch the flashmob video here! It is imperative that the fight to drop Dow from its 10 year sponsorship contract with the Olympic Games be a continuous and collaborative effort uniting activists and victims of Bhopal’s toxins from around the world, whether Vietnam, Nicaragua, India or right here in the United States. As Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace prize winner and Holocaust survivor, once said, “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

2. Updates from the ground

  • The Bhopal Special Olympics

The poisons of Dow Chemical have led to countless children being born with congenital birth defects and disorders in Bhopal and around the world.  The fact that Dow has turned its back on these children and is now sponsoring the Olympics and Paralympics until 2020 is an outrage steeped in irony. But the children of Bhopal are not known for lying down in resignation! Thanks to ICJB - India, on July 26th, one day before the London Opening Ceremonies, The Bhopal Special Olympics took place in Arif Nagar stadium, located behind the Union Carbide Factory.  Approximately 60 children, suffering from a variety of congenital disorders with probable links to Dow’s poisons, took part in ten different sports, including crab walking, assisted walking, running and football (soccer). The event generated an abundance of joy and extensive press coverage. Learn more here

 

 

  • Indian Supreme Court orders removal of Bhopal toxic waste

On August 9, the Indian Supreme Court set a six month deadline for the removal and disposal of 350 metric tons of toxic waste from the now abandoned Union Carbide factory site in Bhopal, demanding that the Central and Madhya Pradesh Governments facilitate the task within the stipulated time frame (see article).  The Indian Government has already approved a proposal to airlift the toxic waste to Germany, agreeing to pay 250 million rupees to the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GIZ) for transport and disposal (read more). There has been dissent among NGO’s in Germany fearful of a second Bhopal disaster during transportation or incineration, but GIZ has expressed confidence that the plan is standard procedure and carries low risk (read more). Unfortunately, the 350 tons of toxic waste in question is only a small fraction of an estimated one million tons of waste that still remains on the grounds of the dilapidated Union Carbide plant, poisoning land and groundwater around the city.

 

  • Union Carbide wins dismissal of suit over Bhopal plant - for now!

On June 26th a US federal court absolved Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) and its former CEO Warren Anderson of liability for damages caused by toxic waste left at the Union Carbide factory site. New York District Court Judge John Keenan, who has presided over three versions of the case, ruled that there is "no evidence that UCC’s involvement, if any, in...waste disposal plans, technology development and remediation, created or maintained an environmental nuisance at Bhopal," and that any outstanding liability or responsibility for cleaning-up the toxic site lies with UCC's Indian subsidiary, Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL).  Judge Keenen's judgment flies in the face of evidence unearthed by Bhopali activists showing that UCC had a majority stake in UCIL and participated in decisions to cut corners in the building of the UCC factory in order to save money, utilizing unsafe, untested technology.  Activists vow to appeal a fourth time. Saif Ansari, ICJB board member, states “we contend that Union Carbide was a major shareholder of Union Carbide India Ltd.," and that "Union Carbide and Dow Chemical should fund environmental studies and properly compensate the victims." For more information on ICJB’s response, click here. For more on the ruling itself and legal background, read ICJB volunteer Nityanand Jayaraman's article Justice Compromised.

3. In Memory of Ward Morehouse

The Bhopal Campaign suffered a significant loss this year with the passing of Ward Morehouse on June 30. One of the founders of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, Ward dedicated his life to the fight to hold corporations, such as Dow Chemical, accountable for their actions. His activism was not limited to the Bhopal disaster; He was founder and trustee of the Council on International and Public Affairs (CIPA) as well as the co-founder of the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy (POCLAD). He also authored and coauthored many esteemed publications including The Bhopal Tragedy, Abuse of Power, and The Bhopal Reader. His passion for social equality and justice is truly an inspiration to all of us in the campaign. Our sincere condolences, thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.

 

Ward Morehouse (1929-2012)

 

To find out more about Ward Morehouse and his work, please visit:


http://www.cipagroup.org/

http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/stand-up-to-corporate-power/1973

http://www.classism.org/ward-morehouse

http://www.poclad.org/BWA/2012/BWA_2012_July.html

http://www.shays2.org/articles/2012-07-19-ward-morehouse-obituary.html

 

4. Activist Corner

  • Shout-Out to Caitlyn Schuchhardt and our Michigan Activists!


Dow Chemical held its annual shareholders meeting in Midland, Michigan, on May 10. ICJB NA had the opportunity to support a few local activists from Concordia College, Caitlyn Schuchhardt,  Anne Schrag, Megan Wilkes, and Taylor Huwe, who held peaceful
demonstrations in front of Dow headquarters as shareholders arrived and departed. More importantly, they were able to attend the meeting itself, proposing several important questions regarding the Bhopal disaster during the Q&A.

In Caitlyn’s own words: “Before the protest we were incredibly nervous... but that nervousness transformed into something else - a weird combination of thrill, determination, and a sense of knowing that our presence there was absolutely necessary. Not only did the shareholders see our message outside, but they heard us share our views inside. And even though there was opposition, we did get some thumbs up and words of support as people were filtering out.”

The activists' appearance were noted in over 5 newspapers in the United States! Good job students of Concordia College for getting such exposure! Check out this article by the Midland Daily News.

 

 

  • An Interview with Alex Masi, award winning photographer

ICJB would like to salute the achievement of Alex Masi, the winner of the 2012 FotoeEvidence Book Award, who spent a considerable amount of time in Bhopal documenting the lives of victims of the disaster. The culmination of his efforts will be the publication of his book, Bhopal The Second Disaster, to be launched on August 26 at VII Gallery, in Dumbo, NY. We caught up with Alex to talk to him about his work in Bhopal. Catch the entire interview as well as images from his book here.

 

  

5. Take Action!!

  • Sign the Petition!

Don’t forget to sign Meredith Alexander’s Petition here to help ensure Justice for Bhopal.

Come join us for the Annual ICJB Convention, October 5, 6 & 7, in Boston, MA.

 

 

This campaign LowDOWn is brought to you by members of the ICJB Advisory Board: Leonid Chindelevitch, Pooja Parameswaran,

Rox Chwaluk, Saif Ansari, Saif Pathan, Shyamala Gopalan, Vinay Pandey, & Wendy Crumrine.