Charges dropped and apologies offered

Feature story - 3 December, 2002
Specialists and trained activists from the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal were brutally assaulted by the police last week when they entered the derelict Union Carbide factory site trying to contain a fraction of the tonnes of hazardous waste lying abandoned at the factory site. But now charges will be dropped and the brutal treatment acknowledged.

Bhopal activist Nity Jayaraman arrested in Bhopal.

Digvijay Singh, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, has instructed his officers in the presence of an ICJB delegation to drop all charges against the activists. He also apologised for the unwarranted brutal treatment meted out to the survivors and their supporters.

Rashida Bi of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationary Karmachari Sangh believes the heavy handed police action suffered by the activists at the hands of the Bhopal police must never be repeated again. "We have already been robbed of our rights to live in a safe and healthy environment when disaster struck 18 years ago. At the very least, we expect the government to uphold our rights, and not compound our agonies by repressing even our right to demonstrate our grievances in a peaceful way."

The police also impounded the activists' equipment making it impossible for the international specialists to pursue their peaceful intentions of bringing the world's attention to the ongoing crime in Bhopal.

After 18 years, the victims of Bhopal are not deterred.

On this the anniversary of the world's worst industrial disaster, gas affected victims and their supporters led a huge rally through the streets of Bhopal. The people called upon Dow Chemical, the owners of Union Carbide, to assume all liabilities and responsibility for the Bhopal disaster.

Participants are demanding that Dow Chemical takes immediate action to address the demands of the survivors, which include, economic rehabilitation, long term health care, clean drinking water and clean-up of the factory site. They also want Dow to face criminal liability charges as the owners of Union Carbide in the ongoing case pending in the Bhopal district court and ensure that prime accused Warren Anderson, former chairman of Union Carbide appears to face trial in India.

We will continue to take this campaign to the doorsteps of Dow wherever they may have offices worldwide until they accept full responsibility for this disaster. Dow cannot hide and it cannot forever evade its liabilities in Bhopal or elsewhere for that matter.

Nic Clyde of Australia, one of the activists arrested last week, successfully delivered a 'Clean-up Kit' to Dow Chemical in Sydney this morning with a letter reiterating the demands of the ICJB.

Tara Buakamsri, of Thailand another activist arrested last week, delivered contaminated soil and water from Bhopal to the Dow Chemical factory in Map Tha Put Industrial Estate, as part of the worldwide protest to challenge the world's biggest chemical company. He also handed a petition letter to Mr. James R Fitterling, Managing Director of Dow Chemical Thailand urging the company to show responsibility for the poison gas leak which has already killed 20,000 people and is still causing the death of at least one person per day from gas exposure related diseases.