In a stunning example of corporate insensibility, Dow Chemical, the world's largest chemical company, and new owners of Union Carbide is to sue survivors of the 1984 Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal, India. While the site of the disaster lies covered in toxic waste and survivors struggle with continuing ill health and deadly pollution from the site, Dow has decided to add to their woes with an Indian lawsuit.
In a stunning example of corporate insensibility, Dow Chemical,
the world's largest chemical company, and new owners of Union
Carbide is to sue survivors of the 1984 Union Carbide gas disaster
in Bhopal, India. While the site of the disaster lies covered in
toxic waste and survivors struggle with continuing ill health and
deadly pollution from the site, Dow has decided to add to their
woes with an Indian lawsuit.
Yes that's right - the very people Dow should be helping are now
facing a lawsuit from one of the world most powerful corporations.
Why are they acting in such an amazingly perverse manner? On
December 2nd a peaceful march of 200 women survivors from Bhopal
delivered toxic waste from the abandoned Carbide factory back to
Dow's Indian headquarters in Bombay with the demand that Dow take
responsibility for the disaster and clean up the site. Dow
obviously has other ideas because they are suing survivors for
about $10,000 US for "loss of work." That's $10,000 US compensation
demanded for a two hour peaceful protest where only one Dow
employee briefly ventured out of the Mumbai corporate business park
to meet the women protestors.
Satyu, a Bhopal activist and one of the protestors charged by
Dow highlighted how ridiculous this "loss of work" claim is:
"Thousands of us lost their lives, many more have not been able to
do our jobs for the last 18 years and 150,000 people in Bhopal are
still suffering ill health because of the Union Carbide gas tragedy
in 1984. Even today people die and children are born with gas
related diseases. It is outrageous that Dow is charging us $10,000
US and tries to shut us down from seeking justice from them."
The damages demanded by Dow will amount to about 10 years income
for the survivors charged but is less than one days sales revenue
for Dow. Also Dow is seeking to silence protest by demanding that
survivors be banned from holding protests within 330 feet of Dow
offices in India.
But pesky internet activists are standing up to Dow, and
providing activists with a way they can stay far away from Dow
plants and Dow employees, but still exercise their right to protest
and demand accountability of Dow: a virtual sit-in.
This protest starts on Monday March 10th and will continue until
Dow drops the court case against the survivors.
A virtual sit-in is simply an
automated way of sending lots of traffic to a website. Activists
around the world park their browsers on a page which does nothing
more than automatically load the bhopal.com site several times a
minute. In the same way that a real-world sit-in disrupts traffic,
the virtual sit-in makes the target site less responsive and slow.
Eventually, the site may become so crowded with protestors that it
stops serving information completely.
Dow proudly proclaims it slogan as "living improved daily." How
does that fit with the suing of poor protestors who have a real
grievance with the company?