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Concerned Citizens Letter to The US President Regarding the Bhopal Gas Disaster

by Vinod Raina, 16 June 2010

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From: Vinod Raina at gmail.com>

Date: 16 June 2010 20:34

Following is the letter with the list of endorsements till 16th [June 2010] evening, when it was sent to the US president.

A few persons have questioned making demands on the US President and not on the Indian rulers and officials. This letter is an initiative of the Bhopal
Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan (BGPMUS) and its close allies. For 26
years, this victim organisation has been confronting the Central and MP
Government, medical and scientific establishments and the concerned
ministries on streets and courts, in Delhi and Bhopal. This letter is not a
’one off’ affair - the victims have also engaged the US establishments on
previous occassions - the US and Indian establishments are both complicit in the denial of justice and compensation. With the looming Nuclear Civil
Liability Bill trying to legalise the unjust Bhopal approach to perhaps even
bigger disasters, the Indian government will certainly have to be resisted,
but global forces pushing such an approach, mainly located in the US, will
also have to confronted. The US President’s position vis.a. vis BP is
contrary to both the Bhopal gas and the Nuclear Bill approaches, and the
international community as well as all of us in this country, we think,
should highlight this contradictory and duality of approaches, with the view
that Bhopal is not repeated, and Bhopal victims rights are recognized
nationally and internationally.

As part of the ongoing resistance to the national government’s approach to
compensation, after dharnas, long marches, petitions to the PM, CM and
others, rejection by the Relief Commissioner and the High Court to reopen
the compensation issue, the victims have finally been able to have their
legal petition admitted by the Supreme Court. This is a ray of hope for
reopening many issues with the national government, US entities, and on the legal front. The petition admitted in the SC is attached so that many of you who have expressed the desire to see action nationally may organize support for it - in ways that you feel expresses your viewpoints best. BGPMUS is not funded by institutions or foundations - either from this country or abroad.

If you think that your support and solidarity could come in the form of
donations in fighting this present case in the Supreme Court, please let us
know at this email id and we shall inform you of the details for doing so.

Many endorsements came from list serves we are not members of - please do circulate this mail to the lists you wrote to earlier. On behalf of the gas
victims, we thank you all.

We understand and even share the cynicism/pessimism of some about the
national ruling class and what to expect from it, but the gas victms don’t
have the security and luxury to live with such cynicism and pessimism. As
their will to resist for over a quarter century has shown, hope is their
sole motivator, however irrational it may seem from outside.

In peace and solidarity,

Vinod Raina, Abdul Jabbar


LETTER TO THE US PRESIDENT

Mr. Barack Obama
- President
- United States of America

Dear Mr. President Obama,

With a great deal of interest, we have been following your tough stand
against British Petroleum for the oil spill in the Gulf Of Mexico, particularly your demand to know whose ’ass needs to be kicked’. We think your demand for corporate accountability for causing huge environmental
damages is worthy of emulation by other governments around the World.

May we draw your attention to a bigger disaster that took place in the city
of Bhopal in India in December 1984 that has officially killed over 15,000
people (about 25,000 people unofficially) and seriously injured nearly half
a million people by now (the situation after twenty five years is attached
for ready reference). This disaster was caused by another mega corporate
entity called Union Carbide, headquartered in the United States of America,
unlike BP whose parent company resides in Great Britain.

Through ’friendly’ interventions of the Reagan administration that ruled the
US in 1984, not only was Warren Anderson, the CEO of Union Carbide sent back from India even though he was arrested and cases were registered against him and the Union Carbide, but similar overtures resulted in all criminal cases against Union Carbide to be dropped in a shameful out-of-court settlement for a paltry US$470m. Twenty six years later, the local court in Bhopal, fettered by these collusive legal manipulations could at best convict six Indian officials of the Union Carbide India Limited for two years of jail, for which all the accused were given instant bail. The parent company based in the US, against whom charges exist in Indian Courts, is unanswerable. So no one pays for the death of over 15,000 people! Another major US corporate, Dow Chemicals, that bought Union Carbide in 2001, refuses to accept its liability for cleaning up the toxic wastes at the closed factory, that is still harming citizens of Bhopal, mainly from water that is contaminated with leached poisons stored in the abandoned factory; or liability for just compensation to the victims.

We are of course more than aware that the Indian Government and the Indian subsidiary of Union Carbide (UCIL) are as complicit in this disaster as the US government, the parent company Union Carbide Corporation and Dow Chemicals. For twenty six years the stricken but surviving gas victims of Bhopal have waged a sustained battle with the Indian establishment –
governments at the center and in the state of Madhya Pradesh, scientific,
medical and industrial monitoring institutions - in courts and streets, and
will continue to do so. But the subtle pressure of the US administration,
contested alien tort laws of the US and the discriminatory legal functioning
of the US system that puts a higher cost to a US life than that of in Bhopal
has made it necessary for the victims to fight on both fronts - the US and
the Indian administrations, corporations and judicial systems - for over a
quarter of century now.

It is well documented that the UCC is a guilty party since it deliberately
exported a defective plant whose safety systems were grossly lacking compared to the parent plant at Danbury, West Virginia. The UCC also hid facts about the toxicity of methyl-isocyanate, while it was aware about its deadly effects. The guilt about these criminal acts requires the US judicial system to act; just as the inability of the Indian inspectors to check these shortcomings requires the Indian judicial systems to book the culprits.

Is it too much to expect that you use the same yardsticks of accountability
you are using for BP for the terrible oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, for
corporations based in the country you rule? Whose ’ass’ should the citizens
of Bhopal kick if governments selectively shield their corporations and
officials from legal accountability? How would you react, for example, if
because of the pressure of the British media that is asking Prime Minister
Cameron to ‘stand up’ to you, Mr. Cameron made a ’friendly overture’ to you to back off from ’kicking anyone’s ass’, meaning British Petroleum’s? If you wouldn’t back off, then consistent with your stand, the citizens of Bhopal and the whole World demand from you that:

1. You signal/order that judicial processes be allowed, both in the US and
India, to take their course in fixing responsibility of corporations and individuals of the US, responsible for the Bhopal carnage; dismantling the manipulative obstacles put up in these intervening years. This is crucial to restore the subverted system of justice.

2. You set processes in motion that make Dow Chemicals own up their
responsibility for liabilities, that includes cleaning up the toxic mess that resides in the closed factory they now own. Any assurances to the contrary that they might have received from some Indian Ministers acting individually are laughably irrelevant and illegal.

3. You work with the same sense of collaboration with the Indian government on this issue to provide justice and proper compensation to Bhopal victims, that you proclaim you have achieved with the Indian government on the issue of ’global terrorism’.

Just as the US administration has demanded from the BP that it set up an
escrow fund of US$10b for compensation pending legal settlements arising out of the oil spill, we demand from you to ask the erstwhile UC, Dow chemicals and the judicial system of US to reverse the out-of-court Bhopal settlement, and deposit amounts commensurate with the deaths of over 15,000 persons and half a million injuries in Bhopal, and process the extradition of guilty people immediately.

In anticipation of a prompt response and decisive action,

1. Abdul Jabbar - Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan
(organisation of Bhopal gas victims)

2. Dr. Vinod Raina - a resident of Bhopal continuously working with the
gas victims since the time of disaster

3. N.D.Jayaprakash - Co-Convener, Bhopal Gas Peedith Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti, Delhi

4. Mukul Dube - Editor, Writer; New Delhi

5. Rohini Hensman

*6. *Anand Teltumbde; Committee for Democratic Rights, Mumbai

7. Mathew Thomas

8. Dr. Arif Ali Syed

9. Akif Khan

10. Dr. Vandana Shiva – Environmentalist

11. Kunal Chattopadhyay, Professor, Jadavpur University, Kolkatta

12. Soma Marik, Associate Professor in History, RKSM Vivekananda Vidyabhan

13. Aditi Bhaduri, Independent Journalist

14. Sukla Sen, EKTA (Committee for Communal Amity), Mumbai

15. Sankara Narayanan, Bhubaneswar

16. Dr. Vandana Prasad, Public Health Resource Network

17. Enakshi Ganguly, Child Rights activist

18. Shabnam Hashmi, Social Activist

19. Jagmohan Singh, Voices for Freedom

20. Sujata Patel, Professor, Department of Sociology, University of
Hyderabad

21. S.Faizi, Environment Expert, Thirivavantapuram

22. Praveen Kumar, M.Phil(FT), Dept.of Education, Delhi University

23. Vidya Bhushan Rawat, Human Rights activist, Delhi

24. Gautam Bandyopadhyay, Nadi Ghati Morcha, Chhattisgarh

25. Rabin Chakraborty

26. Fr Ronnie Prabhu SJ, Mangalore

27. Aseem Chatterjee

28. Uday Prakash, Germany

29. Dr. N. Raghuram, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Biotechnology, GGSIPU,
Delhi

30. Ramesh Babu Batchu, Royal Oak, MI USA

31. Prof (Dr.)K L Chopra, Padma Shri, Former Director , IIT , Kharagpur &
President, Society for Scientific Values

32. Ravi Pathak, Research Fellow, MOLECULAR BIOLOGY AND FUNCTIONAL GENOMIC LAB, G.G.S.Indraprastha University, Delhi

33. Arun Kumar Mishra

34. Madavan Vasudevan, Applications Manager, Genomics & Bio-IT, Genotypic Technology Pvt. Ltd., Bangalore

35. B.Venkatram, Hyderabad

36. Harsh Gupta - student of IIT Kanpur

37. Reva Yunus, Indore

38. Prof. Sahadeva Sahoo, Bhubaneswar

39. Ambarish Rai, Convenor, Public Campaign on Common School System

40. Sachin Jain, Bhopal

41. Prof. Badri Raina, New Delhi

42. Rosemary Viswanath , EQUATIONS, India

43. Feroz Mehdi, Alternatives International, Montreal, Canada

44. Babu Mathew, ex Director, Action Aid India, Bangalore

45. Dr Walter Fernandes, Director, North Eastern Social Research Centre,
Guwahati

46. Pradip Baksi.

47. Mukul Sharma, Faculty of Public Health, Mahidol University, Bangkok,
Thailand

48. Shaheen – a resident of Bangalore, India

49. Ashok Chowdhury, NFFPFW, Dehra Dun

50. Hamouda Soubhi, FMAS, Morocco

51. Harsh Mander, Member, National Advisory Council, New Delhi

52. Mahtab Alam, Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR)

53. Harsh Dobhal

54. Feroze Mithiborwala

55. Jagori Bandyopadhyay

56. Prakash K Ray, Cinemela Collectives

57. Prof. Jandhyala Tilak, NUEPA, New Delhi

58. Prof. Alok Rai, Delhi University

59. Javed Akhtar, Poet/Lyricist, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha)

60. Prof. N. Panchapakesan, ex Professor of Physics, Delhi University

61. Santanu Chacraverti, Kolkata

62. Pradip Chatterjee, DISHA, Kolkata

63. Jyotirmoy Samajder, Kolkata

64. Prof Mushakoji Kinhide, ex vice - Rector, UN University, Tokyo

65. Prof. Lau Kin Chi, Lingnan University, Hong Kong

66. Dr. Mira Shiva, People’s Health Movement

67. Sayantan Dasgupta

68. Shobha Srivastava, Kolkata

69. Premangsu Dasgupta

70. Vikramjit Singh, Research Associate, Bioscience, Unilever Research,
Bangalore

71. Arun Bidani, New Delhi

72. Kabir Arora, Indian Youth Climate Network

73. Naaz Khair

74. Ms. Roma, National Forum of Forest People and Forest workers.

75. Arun Kumar

76. Rohit Prajapati, Activist, Gujarat

77. Trupti Shah, Activist, Gujarat

78. Sheema Mookherjee, New Delhi

79. Udaykumar Ranga, Professor, Molecular Biology and Genetics Unit
Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research Bangalore

80. Apurva Bamezai, IFPRI-New Delhi

81. Vivek John Varghese

82. Nirotpal Mrinal, CDFD, Hyderabad

83. Ashwin John George

84. Akanksha Malhotra

85. Sunila Hooda, GGSIPU, Delhi

86. Ajit Kembhavi

87. Kishore Jagtap

88. Dheera Sujan, Amsterdam

89. Sarba Raj Khadka, RRN, Kathmandu, Nepal

90. Madabhushi Sridhar, Professor, NALSAR University of Law Hyderabad

91. Jyoti Punwani

92. Urvashi Jain; Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi

93. Tapoja Chaudhuri - Member, International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, Seattle Chapter. USA.

94. Sudeshna Basu, Kolkata

95. Anand Patwardhan, Film maker, Mumbai

96. Chandan Das Sarma

97. Subhashish Mukhopadhya

98. Bhaskar Gupta

99. Prabir Chatterjee

100. Kumares Mitra

101. Asia Pacific Movement for Debt and Development, Manila

102. Jubilee – South America

103. Jubilee South – Global (a coalition of over 200 social movements all
over the world)

104. Mamta Munish

105. Vaibhav Raaj, Delhi

106. Prof. Ohashi Masaki, Keisen University, Tokyo, Japan

107. Rashmi Paliwal, Hoshangabad, Madhya Pradesh

108. N Anil Kumar

cc: 1. Prime Minister of India, Mr. Manmohan Singh

2. Mr. P. Chidambaram, Convener, GoM on Bhopal

Bhopal Gas Disaster Special Leave Petition to the Supreme Court of India
March 2010 (PDF File)