On Monday, February 24th, hundreds of women survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster staged a demonstration during President Trump’s two-day state visit to India in protest at his failure to serve summons on Dow Chemical, and its subsidiary Union Carbide, to appear in the Indian courts to answer charges of negligence and corporate manslaughter. Survivors beat an effigy of US President Donald Trump with brooms in protest, as well as holding up large banners calling for Dow and UCC to be brought to justice. They also carried black and white images of gas-affected individuals, many of whom have lost their lives during the long wait for justice.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Trump have appeared to be forming a close political bond ever since the latter attained office, with Modi having attended a President Trump rally in Texas during his state visit to the U.S. in September, at which he received a warm welcome from the President Trump supporter base. President Trump appeared to receive a similarly positive reception at a rally in a cricket stadium in Ahmedabad on Monday. But he continues to ignore the plight of the people of Bhopal and questions of corporate responsibility, while still seeking to further the business interests of U.S. chemical corporations in India.
President Trump has longstanding connections to Dow Chemical through former CEO Andrew Liveris, who he appointed head of the American Manufacturing Council back in December of 2016. He also nominated former Dow Chemical ‘dioxin lawyer’, Peter C. Wright, for appointment as assistant administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in 2018. Wright, who had previously led negotiations with the E.P.A. over Dow’s poisoning of the Tittabawasee River in Michigan, was appointed to oversee the E.PA.’s ‘Superfund’ program for the cleanup of toxic waste sites. At the time of his appointment Dow Chemical and DuPont, with whom they had completed a merger the previous year, were named responsible parties for over 100 of the Superfund sites slated for cleanup.
In light of his longstanding connection to Dow and the chemical industry, it will come as no surprise that President Trump and the U.S. Department of Justice continue to ignore summons on Dow to appear in the Indian courts, despite the existence of a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between the two countries which has been in place since 2005. We stand with the women of Bhopal in their protest, and join them in calling upon President Trump to honour the terms of the agreement and serve summons on Dow Chemical, and their subsidiary Union Carbide, to appear in court and face the charges against them.
Press Statement from Bhopal:
Hundreds of women survivors of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster today flayed U.S. President Trump in effigy with brooms on the occasion of his visit to India. Led by four local organisations, the survivors expressed their anger against the U.S. government for refusing to serve summons issued by the Bhopal Court upon Dow Chemical, owner of Union Carbide. Madhya Pradesh Muslim Vikas Parishad, a local social service organisation, supported the demonstrators’ call for justice in the criminal case on the world’s worst industrial disaster.
“Since 2016 when Trump came to power, the Bhopal district court has twice summoned Dow Chemical, as owner of Union Carbide that is absconding charges of corporate manslaughter, but Trump’s Department of Justice has refused to serve these summons upon Dow” said Rashida Bee, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh.
Nasreen Khan of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha said: “In violating the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between India and the U.S.A., the Trump government is sheltering the perpetrators of the worst corporate massacre in history.”
“It is now clear that Trump is visiting India mainly to further the interests of death dealing U.S. corporations like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Westinghouse and others. It is indeed shocking that our Prime Minister, in his eagerness to please Trump, has not sought, let alone pressed for, the U.S. governments’ cooperation in bringing the killers of Bhopal to justice” said Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information & Action.
Durgesh Ahirwar of Children against Dow Carbide said, “In Bhopal hundreds of victims of Union Carbide are still dying untimely deaths, hundreds of thousands are battling chronic illnesses and tens of thousands of children are being born with malformations and growth disorders. Through our brooms today we are telling the world about the US government’s role in the ongoing injustice in Bhopal.”
Our thanks to Rashida Bee of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, Nawab Khan of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action, Durgesh Ahirwar of Children Against Dow Carbide, and Naseemuddin Khan of the MP Muslim Vikas Parishad for their statements and representation of the five survivor organisations.