Rashida Bee and Champa Devi Shukla, gas affected survivors and leaders of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karamchari Sangh (Bhopal Gas Affected Women's Stationery Workers' Union / BGPMSKS), and Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action arrived in Texas, US today for a 40 day tour. As representatives and leaders of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, they have been invited by organisations such as the Association for India's Development and Beyond Pesticides to apprise citizens about the continuing tragedy of the 1984 Union Carbide - Bhopal gas disaster.
During their tour, Rashida Bee and Champa Devi will visit various communities affected by Dow Chemical, the new 100% owner of Union Carbide and also engage in strategic discussion with support groups to strengthen their struggle for justice. The survivors will also be confronting Dow shareholders at the company's annual shareholder meeting with Dow's pending liabilities in Bhopal, on May 8th in Midland, Michigan.
Mrs. Champa Devi stated, "It's been two years since we first met with Dow officials in India, and in this time we've not received a single concrete proposal on how they'll address their responsibilities in Bhopal." According to her more than hundred thousand people still suffer from the disaster. Children are still born with birth defects and tens of thousands cant earn their livelihoods due to their exposure to deadly chemicals. "So long as babies in Bhopal nurse on mothers milk that contains toxic chemicals, DOW's name will remain internationally associated with corporate injustice." Mrs Devi said.
The delegation expects to raise the issues of DOWs responsibility to face trial on criminal charges, long term medical care of survivors and their children, economic and social rehabilitation and contamination in and around the abandoned Union Carbide factory site, "It is not in DOW's interests to continue stonewalling us," Rashida Bee remarked, "as their shareholders are now well aware. DOW must act on our demands or face the consequences".
The survivors' tour coincides with the appeal of the Bhopal class action in New York and the Supreme Court of India's demand for an explanation from the government for the delay in distributing compensation money. The government is required to respond within a week.
Survivors' Tour Schedule
22nd-23rd Houston, TX Host - Intl Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB)
24th-25th Seadrift, TX Host - Calhoun County Resource Watch, Member ICJB
26th-27th Austin, TX Hosts - Beyond Pesticides and Association for India's Development (AID), Austin Chapter
28th Houston Host - South Asian Students, Rice University
29th-30th Plaquemine, Louisiana Host - Lousiana Environmental Action Network
1st-5th New York
6th-10th (Ann Arbor, Midland, Detroit, Claire) MI Host - Ecology Center, AID (Ann Arbor)
12th-14th Boston Host- MIT Student groups
16th-20th Washington D.C.
24-26th Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Host- AID Annual Conference
20th-30th California Host- AID Bay Area chapter
31st Return to India
For more information on the tour, venue, background and bios of BGPMSKS & the survivors, speaking engagements and interviews please contact:
International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal
(Coalition of environmental & social justice organisations led by women's survivor groups of 1984 Union Carbide gas disaster)
Tel +1 832 444 1731
Nityanand Jayaraman - Volunteer ICJB
Cell - 520 906 5216
Environmental Health Fund - Member, ICJB
Tel 617 524 6018
Please check www.bhopal.net for regular updates.