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University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

A Delivery for Board Member Ringler!
(click here for photos; here for the press release!)

Nothing seems right !
...Well that’s how it looked like till we finally met Member Ringler.

As we started preparing for Dec 3, we figured that we would not be able to make a large protest, (as we had initially wanted). Anyhow we were four AID milwaukee volunteers on the road at 5 to meet Ringler. And well instead of taking the stipulated one and a half hour drive it took us THREE hours, what with a freeway accident and then losing our way!

In any case by the time we reached Mr. Rigler’s it was around 8:00 pm. Well, so here was one sprawling mansion, but with a dead look much like the cemetary next to it. There was a drive but no gate at the entrance, so we went in to the door. No lights, except a dim glow in the attic and the ante room with its satin drapes.

We rang the bell, no response, so we gave up, well looks like no one’s in, is what we said and decided to leave - the letter for Member Ringler, the water sample and the two posters that read:

Bhopal gas tragedy -
first day 7000 dead
to date 20, 000 dead
dow-carbide at least take responsibility now!

Corporate accountability -
only for americans
not for dow carbide victims in bhopal

But, just as we clicked photographs of us with our biohazard suit (reading - dow carbide factory - “a global toxic hot-pot” says greenpeace - cleanup dow!) and all the stuff laid out in front of the Ringler door, the door opened. We were taken by surprise! And
this is how it was:

Ringler : Goodbye guys (Ringler holding the door open just enough to let us see him)
AID volunteer : we have brought you a sample of the bhopal water ...
Ringler : I give you just one second to get off my property!
Volunteer : We will leave the sample...
Ringler : No take it with you...just one second to get off my property! (Door slammed shut)

It all happened in a flash.

So we left the posters, and brought the water back with us - but we plan on making another delivery!

The callousness, anger, irritation and most evident the fear - fear of four very ordinary people with a just cause - was evident in Member Ringler’s action.

Don’t think we will get any media coverage! We still have our media kit all ready. But as one of our friends said “what was important has been done.....keep ur spirits high...” And believe us we are in high spirits. More as we do more !

Check out the article about the event on Znet!!

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Jhadoo-ing Board Member Ringler!
(click here for photos!)

December 3, 2004: Lake Forest, Illinois, USA - On the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, 24 activists from the South Asian Progressive Action Collective and allied organizations delivered Indian brooms to Chicago-area Dow Chemical Director, James Ringler, urging the company to clean up the still-contaminated site. The action came on the heels of an Amnesty International report that called Dow's denials of responsibility on the matter "misleading… when at the same time hundreds of thousands of people are still suffering…" Ringler answered the door, ordered the activists off his property, and hastily closed it, refusing to accept the brooms along with a letter and the recently published book, Trespass Against Us.

On December 3rd, 1984, a toxic cloud of gas from the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, enveloped the surrounding city, leaving thousands dead. More than 20,000 have died to date ­ the population of Lake Forest where James Ringler lives. More than 120,000 people still suffer from severe health problems as a result of their exposure.

Despite acquiring Union Carbide, Dow Chemical has refused to address Carbide’s pending liabilities in Bhopal, including medical and economic rehabilitation of victims, clean up of toxic wastes and contaminated groundwater, and provision of safe drinking water. Dow has also refused to produce Union Carbide to face trial in Indian court where the company is wanted for manslaughter.

“It is outrageous that people still drink contaminated water and suffer diseases without medical care due to a 20 year old disaster,” said Kamayani Swami, Association for India’s Development. “Dow Chemical must take responsibility and clean up the site immediately.” The activists were joined by V. Chandra, union delegate from the New Trade Union Initiative in India who called for common labor and safety standards so that future accidents like Bhopal do not happen in the future.

In a report released Nov. 29, Amnesty International called on Dow Chemical to "…provide promptly full reparations, restitution, compensation and rehabilitation for the continuing damage done to people's health and environment by the ongoing contamination of the site." Amnesty officials also emphasized that "Human rights have been violated on a massive scale…"

In 2003, 18 members of US Congress including Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky called Dow subsidiary, Union Carbide an “absconder from justice” and described Dow’s refusal to deal with the tragedy as a “blatant disregard for the law.” The Congressional members concluded that “The disaster in Bhopal continues, and is likely to worsen if Dow Chemical does not step forward to fulfill its responsibilities.”

UPDATE!!: We had about 25 people up at Ringler's house on Friday - some from Chicago and others from the Milwaukee/Madison area. It was quite fun although cold. We started by reading a survivor testimonial aloud and then read aloud our open letter to James Ringler. Two folks went up to the door to present Ringler with a jhadoo and letter which he refused and told us to get off his property. We left the Jhadoo, the book Trespass Against Us and the letter on his doorstep and then went back out to meet our group.

We stayed on the street in front of his house and shouted chants and marched so that he would know for sure that this issue was not going away. We were honored to have a visiting delegate from the New Trade Union Initiative in India with us, who is here as part of a collaborative exchange/dialogue with Jobs with Justice so that Indian workers and American workers can start building relationships and organizing to prevent any such disaster from ever occuring again. The cops came but did not chase us off and actually took our fact sheets and just waited while we did our thing.

All in all a very positive night. Read the letter to James Ringler!

I just picked up a copy of this week's Indian Reporter, Desi Talk and Garam Masala... All three had articles covering the Milwaukee/Chicago events and the 20th anniversary with big photos... the Indian Reporter article was the follow up from Kamayani's article last week....

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Mr. Ringler's Neighborhood

On December 3rd, several Bhopal supporters and members of the Association for India’s Development (Milwaukee) visited the home of Dow Board member James Ringler:

Ashish (from AID Milwaukee), Satish and I (from Waukegan) left for Ringler's house around 9am. We reached Ringler's house around 9:15am and rang the bell. Waited for a few seconds before the door was opened by Ringler's daughter. She said -'You must be looking for my Dad', for which we responded yes. We were told that he is out of state, gone to Florida and is not expected back for another few months. We told her that we wanted to give him the poster board and she said she could not accept it. We said we would leave it at the door, for which she told us that she would throw it out right away and that it was no use. We stood firm that we were going to leave it there anyway (she seemed a bit taken aback by this). After this we handed out the letter (which consisted of the ICJB demands) and said we wanted to give Mr. Ringler this letter. She again said that she could not take anything from us to give him and closed the door. We pinned this letter to the poster board and left right away. While we were there a FedEx truck pulled in to their house and she signalled to the FedEx delivery person to wait till we were gone. As we left the house gates, we saw her reopening the door for the fedex person.

No Ringler, a bit disappointing!

A few questions that bothered us on our way back
- Was Ringler really away or was he in the house? There is no way of knowing.
- Will his daughter let Ringler know that we were there? Perhaps yes.
- Will she give the letter/poster reach Ringler? We don’t know. We thought that we could post a same letter to Ringler, to ensure that he knows we were there and that we delivered this letter to him.

All in all a few things to think about.
------------------------------------------------------------------

Letter to Mr. Ringler

December 3rd, 2005

Dear Mr. James Ringler and all DOW Board of Directors,

We include below a transcript of a letter that was delivered to Mr. Ringler's residence in Lake Forest IL, on December 3rd by supporters of the campaign for justice in Bhopal.

December 3rd is the anniversary of the chemical disaster that occurred in Bhopal 21 years ago in 1984. On this occasion we would like to remind you of the responsibilities towards the people of Bhopal. As Dow’s Board of Directors you have the power to change the situation in Bhopal. We urge and demand that you to use it to

- CLEAN UP THE POISON: Clean up toxic wastes and contaminated groundwater in and around the Union Carbide factory site. Provide safe water to the community, and just compensation for those who have been injured or made ill by this contamination and/or have had their property damaged.

- Submit Union Carbide for TRIAL: Ensure that Union Carbide and Warren Anderson present themselves in the Indian courts, and cease to abscond from the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court in Bhopal.

- PROVIDE LONG TERM HEALTH CARE: Provide for medical rehabilitation of the persons exposed to toxic gases and contaminated groundwater and their children. This includes medical care, health monitoring and necessary research studies. The company must provide all information on the health consequences of the leaked gases and contaminants in the ground water.

- PROVIDE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL SUPPORT: Provide income opportunities to victims who can not pursue their usual trade as a result of exposure-induced illnesses and income support to families rendered destitute due to death or incapacitation of the breadwinner of the family.

In solidarity with the people of Bhopal,
Students for Bhopal (www.studentsforbhopal.org)
International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (www.bhopal.net/icjb.html)

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Survivors Speak at 20th Anniversary Vigil
(click here for photos!)

On December 2nd, 2004, three Bhopal survivors led a candle light vigil organized by AID Milwaukee and ‘Education for the People!’ at the Gandhi Statue outside the Milwaukee Court house – It was beautiful and even when I know I can not do justice to that hour we spent together in solidarity, here is my lame attempt…

Gandhi is a potent symbol of peace and non-violence and it is at his statue that all of us (supporters of the cause from Milwaukee and Madison) gathered to remember those who died in the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, 20 years ago and express our support for and solidarity with the ongoing struggle.

The event started with a brief overview of why all of us had gathered together on this cold December evening with temperatures below the freezing point. We then had Professor Rohatgi talk of his own experience in Bhopal as the head of the local Government Lab from 1981-84 in Bhopal. He emphasized the need to export full proof technology to the developing countries so that we will not have another Bhopal on hand. He also asked for accountability from corporations asking for Dow to clean up the plant site in Bhopal. Kalpana Rohatgi also talked of that night in Bhopal and the pain she felt at knowing that the suffering for Bhopalis was far from over with health issues of the victims still not having been addressed. Ritesh who traveled all the way from Madison to be with us at the vigil was a seven year old boy at the time of the tragedy. His horror at what had happened then is compounded by the ongoing tragedy as he asks for Dow to clean up!

We also had Matt Nelson (from the local group ‘Education for the People!’) talk of the link between what happened in Bhopal and still goes on here with the local corporations of Milwaukee, which exploit the unemployment, racism and poverty here to make profits at all costs. And as his forceful voice echoed the message “Corporate Scum, here we come!” we proceeded with looking forward to this positive act of standing in solidarity.

After a minute’s silence in memory of all those we have lost to Bhopal, many more people shared their thoughts. Sai from Madison offered a prayer for clean air, water and land. Sister Virgine remembered her experience at the WSF and the strength of being together with a vision of a better world. The emotions were overwhelming and Ashish echoed our spirit of enthusiasm for change and freedom beautifully as he recited the lines of a beautiful poem by the Indian poet Sahir Ludhianavi…

Wah subah kabhi to aayegi
In kali nadiyon ke sar se jab raat ka aanchal dhalkega
Jab dukh ke badal pighlenge jab ambar jhoom ke nachega jab dharati nagme gayegi
Wah subah kabhi to aayegi … wah subah kabhi to aayegi

(That night shall and will come… when the clouds of sadness will melt away, the sky will dance and the earth will sing… that night shall and will come)

The cold and snow flurries were no major deterrent but we could have been there longer had it not been for them… We have a video recording and some photographs which we would love to share with anyone interested.

We also screened the film “Hunting Warren Anderson” on Nov. 24th, and AID-Milwaukee has donated copies of the new book about Dow’s toxic legacy, “Trespass Against Us”, and the new film about Bhopal, “Twenty Years Without Justice,” to the Waukesha Public Library and the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

Here are some links to the media coverage around the vigil, nothing very impressive and yet we share it ‘cos at least we are being heard. Also here is the statement from Rep Tammy Baldwin from Wisonsin for the vigil:

“As we observe the 20th anniversary of the tragedy in Bhopal, India, we remember the victims — the thousands killed and hundreds of thousands injured. We call on Dow Chemical and Union Carbide to fulfill their responsibilities to the people of India and the world by addressing the liabilities incurred and remediating the ongoing human rights and environmental abuses in Bhopal. The victims of the disaster in Bhopal must be remembered. The negligence in Bhopal must not go unpunished. The tragedy of Bhopal must not be repeated.”

1) NPR Milwaukee: Bhopal Remembered
There's going to be a vigil this evening (12/2) at the Mahatma Gandhi statue outside the Milwaukee County Courthouse. The purpose, is to remind people of the chemical accident that occured in Bhopal, India, 20 years ago. Thousands of people were killed and thousands more injured when 40-tons of toxic gas leaked from a Union Carbide factory. The Milwaukee chapter of the Association for India's Development planned the vigil. Members say the accident victims have not yet been fairly compensated and the site remains grossly contaminated. Pradeep Rohatgi will speak at tonight's event. He's a Distinguished Professor of Materials Engineering at UWM. But at the time of the accident, he ran an Indian government laboratory, 4 miles from the Union Carbide plant. He spoke with WUWM's Marge Pitrof. (aired 12/2/04)
2) The Journal Sentinel: Regional News Briefs - North
3) Wisconsin Public Radio: Anniversary of World's Largest Industrial Disaster Brings Candlelight & Survivors By Gil Halsted
4) Indymedia posting
5) Waukesha Freeman: a nice article
6) The Indian Reporter – a widely circulated Indian weekly also carried a full page article on Bhopal (with coverage to mid west mobilisations) and some very good pictures (sorry it is not online)

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Dow Jhadooed at Industry Trade Show

On March 8th, 2005, International Women's Day, dozens of activists from the South Asian Progressive Action Collective, Association for India’s Development, and other organizations delivered jhaadoos -Indian brooms - to Chicago-area Dow Chemical representatives attending the National Manufacturing Week industry tradeshow, urging the company to clean up the still-contaminated site at Bhopal, India that was home of the world’s worst industrial disaster over two decades ago. The action came on the heels of an Amnesty International report that called Dow's denials of responsibility on the matter "misleading… when at the same time hundreds of thousands of people are still suffering…"

“It is outrageous that people still drink contaminated water and suffer diseases without medical care due to a 20 year old disaster,” said Kamayani Swami, Association for India’s Development. “Dow Chemical must take responsibility and clean up the site immediately.”

In a report released Nov. 29, Amnesty International called on Dow Chemical to "…provide promptly full reparations, restitution, compensation and rehabilitation for the continuing damage done to people's health and environment by the ongoing contamination of the site." Amnesty officials also emphasized that "Human rights have been violated on a massive scale…"

In 2003, 18 members of US Congress including Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky called Dow subsidiary, Union Carbide an “absconder from justice” and described Dow’s refusal to deal with the tragedy as a “blatant disregard for the law.” The Congressional members concluded that “The disaster in Bhopal continues, and is likely to worsen if Dow Chemical does not step forward to fulfill its responsibilities.”

Read more in Ghadar!

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21st Anniversary Vigil

It was snowing, it was cold but the AID Milwaukee volunteers were steadfast in our resolve to demand justice for the victims of the Bhopal Gas Disaster. The message that volunteers wanted to convey when they gathered in front of Milwaukee public library was short and clear: Dow, Clean Bhopal now! The vigil was to observe the 21st Anniversary of Bhopal Gas disaster and was organized by AID Milwaukee along with “Education for the People”, a grassroots community-based advocacy organization head quartered in Milwaukee.

The event started in front of the Milwaukee Public library and the goal was to spread awareness for the cause. A night before volunteers prepared a few posters, which would be used the next day to promote awareness of the campaign. “We got 50 honks in our support”, remarked Krishna while talking about the success the event received. The group then walked together towards the Mahatma Gandhi statue at the Milwaukee Court house where they lit candles and a minute of silence was observed to remember those who died. The cold and heavy snow was a deterrent but not enough to stop people from speaking out their views on the issue. Ashish, an AID volunteer echoed the demands of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB). He said, Dow should clean up the toxic waste from the site, provide long-term health care to those affected, face trial in the court and provide economic and social support to the victims. Prem talked about few of the achievements for the campaign in the last year, with the notable ones being the order of the Supreme Court of India asking Madhya Pradesh Government to supply clean drinking water and the Indian Oil Corporation cancellation of purchase of technology from Dow Chemicals. Matt Nelson, director of “Education for the People” talked about corporate accountability and how some corporations have destroyed communities but have not been held accountable for that. With Matt's remark the event came to an end with the resolve that we will keep fighting for the Justice in Bhopal.

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Calling on the Indian Gov't to Agree to a Cleanup

On June 15th, 2004, non-resident Indians, students and other supporters gathered outside the Indian consulate in Chicago and the four other Indian Government offices (New York, San Francisco, Houston, and Washington, DC) in the US to demand that the Indian Government allow Union Carbide to cleanup its abandoned factory site in Bhopal, if ordered by a US Court. Many of the protestors also pledged to join a global relay hunger strike if the government continues to delay action.

In a landmark ruling on March 17, 2004, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, USA, ruled (Sajida Bano et al v. Union Carbide Corporation and Warren Anderson) that Union Carbide can be ordered by the District Court to clean up its abandoned factory site, but only if the Indian government or the State of Madhya Pradesh give their assent. The New York District Court, which is currently hearing the case, gave the Government of India until June 30, 2004, to submit a letter stating that it has no objection to a cleanup by Union Carbide, if ordered by the court.

A week-long petition drive spearheaded by the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, the Association for India's Development and Students for Bhopal sent hundreds of emails, faxes and phone calls to the Indian Consulate in New York and to Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan, the Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers, to indicate the global support and extreme urgency of the matter.

"In Chicago, a group of 5 of us went to the Indian Consulate office. They were on lunch break from 12:30-3:30 p.m. and the Indian Consul, Arun Kumar, was on lunch and his secretary, Hemal, did not know when he would be back. Maneesha did a fine job of talking to her about the injustice in Bhopal and asked her if she was aware of the problem. Hemal said she knew what was going on and about two months ago the Consulate's office was receiving 30-40 e-mails a day about it. Hemal said she would pass on our letter and they will e-mail me to let me know Mr. Kumar has received the letter. Nehal, another person who went with us, is going to go back and see if Mr. Kumar got the letter and see if we can set up a meeting with him to talk about Bhopal. That's it for now..."

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1500 Students Protest at Indian Consulates Nationwide!

More than 1500 students descended on Indian Consulates and Government offices nationwide yesterday, April 15, 2005, to demand action and justice for Bhopal. The protests, organized by Amnesty International Group 133 (Somerville, Massachusetts), the Association for India's Development, and Students for Bhopal, made four key demands of the Indian Government:

• Enforce the clean-up of the contaminated Bhopal site by the Union Carbide Corporation (UCC)/Dow Chemical Company;
• Ensure that Dow/UCC provide full compensation for the damage done to health and the environment by the ongoing contamination of the site;
• Supply clean, safe water for the affected communities; and
• Provide free healthcare for everyone affected by the disaster, including the children born of parents affected by the gas leak.

The flagship demonstration, organized by Amnesty International Group 133, brought 1500 students to the Indian Consulate in New York as a part of their 10th-annual "Get on the Bus" protest. Satellite protests were also held in Washington, DC; Houston; and Chicago (April 20th); while other satellite actions targeted the Indian Government in San Francisco; Delhi; and Chennai, India.

In Chicago on April 20th, 2005, three members of Amnesty International and two members of the South Asian Progressive Action Collective met with the Consul General, Mr. Arun Kumar, and the Deputy Consul General, Mr. Jagdish Rai. In a meeting that lasted half an hour, they discussed what the Indian Government needs to do in Bhopal to comply with their human rights obligations to the people of Bhopal.

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An Earth Day Talk with Ryan Bodanyi

On April 24, 2004, the day after Earth Day, the Milwaukee chapter of the Association for India’s Development (AID) hosted a lecture by Ryan Bodanyi, the Student Coordinator of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal. Mr. Bodanyi’s lecture, “The Bhopal Gas Tragedy: A Continuing Disaster” revealed that thousands of victims still seek justice for the disaster from Dow Chemical. “Enron may have cost thousands of people their retirement portfolios, but Bhopal cost thousands of people their lives,” said Bodanyi. “Both stand as examples of the dire need today for corporate accountability.” About 25 people attended the lecture.

Bodanyi stressed that there are many things that individuals can do. “If you hold investments in Dow, dump them, and if your pension fund does urge them to do the same,” Bodanyi told the gathering. “Talk to your city council and legislators about passing a resolution urging Dow to clean up its act. Host a vigil for the 20th anniversary this December, or organize a fundraiser for the medical clinic in Bhopal. No matter what you do, it’s important for all of us, because unless we ensure that justice is done in Bhopal, it will happen again, and more will suffer.”

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The international student campaign to hold Dow accountable for Bhopal, and its other toxic legacies around the world.
For more information about the campaign, or for problems regarding this website, contact
Shana Ortman, the US Coordinator for the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.
Last updated: April 30, 2008

WE ALL LIVE IN BHOPAL

"The year 2003 was a special year in the history of the campaign for justice in Bhopal. It was the year when student and youth supporters from at least 30 campuses in the US and India took action against Dow Chemical or in support of the demands of the Bhopal survivors. As we enter the 20th year of the unfolding Bhopal disaster, we can, with your support, convey to Dow Chemical that the fight for justice in Bhopal is getting stronger and will continue till justice is done. We look forward to your continued support and good wishes, and hope that our joint struggle will pave the way for a just world free of the abuse of corporate power."

Signed/ Rasheeda Bi, Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Affected Women Stationery Employees Union
International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal