Martin Sheen Calls on the White House to Stop Shielding Dow Chemical From Legal Responsibilities[button link=”https://www.whitehouse.gov/isOdv”]Sign Petition HERE[/button]
A White House “We The People” petition accusing American officials of obstructing the course of criminal
justice in the 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy, considered the world’s worst industrial disaster, is being backed by
Hollywood star Martin Sheen.
The petition, which launched on Sunday, May 15th and is available at https://wh.gov/isOdv, calls on the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) to serve a court notice from India to Dow Chemical, which summons the multinational corporation to criminal proceedings in India. Campaigners assert that the DoJ is breaching a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty on Criminal Matters between the U.S. and India by ignoring or obstructing the four court notices so far sent by India. The latest court notice from India requests Dow to appear before the Bhopal Court on July 13th, 2016. The Bhopal court requires Dow to “show cause” as to why it should not
produce its wholly–owned subsidiary, Union Carbide Corporation, to face manslaughter charges for its role in the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, from which 25,000 people are estimated to have died so far.
Hollywood actor and activist Martin Sheen played Union Carbide’s erstwhile CEO, Warren Anderson, in
the 2014 feature film “Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain.” Anderson, who was sought for the same charges as
Union Carbide, never faced trial and died just weeks before the 30th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster.
In his video of support, Sheen states that, “The U.S. government could pressure Dow to do the right thing,
but instead the Department of Justice has been shielding Dow and Union Carbide from responsibility for
over two and a half decades. And now, a possible merger between Dow Chemical and DuPont is looming.
Once again the baton of ownership will pass hands but the liabilities will be ignored – unless we speak up.”
Salil Shetty, the Secretary General of Amnesty International, has also voiced alarm at the current
situation, stating, “It is neither justice nor equality when a U.S. company can evade accountability for the
deaths of thousands of people in India.”
“It would have been impossible for Union Carbide and Dow to thumb their noses at India’s courts for almost three decades without the resolute support of U.S. officials. The U.S. government is therefore directly
responsible for the enormous quantity of avoidable suffering in Bhopal,” asserted Adrienne Korwin,
Campaign Organizer for ICJB-North America, adding, “The survivors of the disaster continue to lack
access to the medical care and assistance they deserve. The U.S. government’s support of Dow and Union
Carbide helped make Bhopal into the unending human rights disaster it remains today. This support has
www.bhopal.net been clandestine, often unlawful, in contravention of due process, bilateral treaties and international law. I call on my fellow Americans to help make our petition a success and stop the U.S. government from burying justice in Bhopal.”
In regards to the issue, Gary Cohen, founder of Health Care Without Harm and one of the White
House’s Public Health and Climate “Champions of Change” for 2013, noted the difference between the
DoJ’s response to a similar issue, stating, “Because the gassing of Bhopal remains legally unresolved even
after 30 years, Union Carbide’s victims experience prolonged, acute suffering. In 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice made BP pay $4 billion in criminal fines and penalties for the Deepwater Horizon disaster, in
which 11 people died. The U.S. Government should play an equally active role in bringing Dow Chemical
[Union Carbide’s owner] to justice in Bhopal.”
Environmental and anti-war activist and author Diane Wilson pointed out how the survivors of Bhopal
continue to be abused by the system, stating, “By playing U.S. and Indian legal jurisdictions against each
other, Union Carbide got away with a settlement of civil claims that granted just $500 per victim. Carbide
has never faced the criminal charges, and its ex-CEO Warren Anderson died, having never faced trial.
People have been left desperately ill, penniless, without adequate social support, effective medical treatment, or psychological closure, locked in an endless cycle of re-victimization.”
In summation, prominent academic and MIT Professor Emeritus Noam Chomsky noted in the film
“Bhopali,” “So there are international rules of appropriate behavior for multinational corporations. Of
course, international law has no enforcement power – laws have to be enforced by somebody. Who’s going to enforce them? If the United States doesn’t enforce [the laws], [then] there’s no law.”