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Following Barack Obama’s tough stand against BP for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, victims of the Bhopal gas disaster are calling on the US president to hold to account the US business interests implicated in the incident. Dow Chemicals, which bought Union Carbide in 2001, refuses to accept its liability for cleaning up the toxic wastes at the closed factory, which is still harming citizens of Bhopal.

Mr Barack Obama
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. 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