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News ::
Wheaton Students Fast for Bhopal (english)
23 Apr 2003
Modified: 25 Apr 2003
Press Release

Wednesday, April 23, 10:00 a.m. PHONE: (401) 742-6518
E-MAIL: jjacques (at)


When the sun rises on April 24, fifteen members of Wheaton’s South Asian Student Association (SASA) will begin a day-long fast in solidarity with the survivors of the Bhopal disaster. The fasting students are also calling on Wheaton College to write a public letter to Dow, requesting that it clean up the contamination that remains in Bhopal.

On December 3rd, 1984, a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, began leaking 40 tons of methyl isocyanate, a deadly gas. None of the plant’s safety systems were operational, allowing the gas to spread throughout the city. Roughly half a million people were exposed to the gas and 20,000 have died to date as a result of their exposure. More than 120,000 people still suffer from such ailments as blindness, extreme difficulty in breathing, and gynecological disorders. The site has never been properly cleaned up and it continues to poison the people of Bhopal. In 2001, the Dow Chemical Corporation purchased Union Carbide, thereby acquiring its assets and liabilities. However Dow has refused to clean up the site, provide safe drinking water, compensate the victims, or disclose the composition of the gas leak, information that could potentially save many lives.

On April 21st, two of the survivors from Bhopal arrived here in the United States; they will tour the country, discussing the accident and their campaign for justice, for the next five weeks. In solidarity with their tour and with their struggle, SASA members will be fasting from sunup to sundown on Thursday, April 24. Fasting is an ancient Indian tradition, used frequently by Mahatma Gandhi to protest the British colonial rule and religious hatred. The survivors of Bhopal have themselves fasted in protest, both against Dow-Carbide and against the government of India. SASA members have pledged to drink only water during their day-long fast.

The fast is also a protest against Wheaton College’s inaction on the Bhopal issue. SASA has called on Wheaton’s President, Dale Marshall, to write a public letter to Dow, calling on the company to assume its responsibilities in Bhopal. SASA has met with the President personally to discuss their concerns with her, but she has refused to take any action on this important issue.

Her inaction stands in stark contrast with that of the student Senate, which passed a resolution last night condemning Dow’s steadfast refusal to assume its liabilities in Bhopal. The student government resolution on Bhopal, only the second such resolution yet passed in the United States, also called on President Marshall to take a stand on behalf of the people of Bhopal.

“The survivors of Bhopal have already suffered enough,” said Janine Jacques, the leader of the Bhopal campaign at Wheaton College. “Through our fast, we stand in solidarity with their eighteen-year struggle for justice. We hope that our actions will call attention to their continued suffering and increase the pressure on Dow Chemical to end it. Dow’s refusal to accept their liability for Bhopal is unconscionable; Wheaton’s decision to turn a blind eye to this injustice is hardly any better.”

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ironic (english)
25 Apr 2003
it was cyanide based gas that is said to have killed the kurds at halabja, an event blamed on Saddam...except that iraq only ever used mustard gas...maybe us should regime change Dow Chemicals!