Hi I’m Charlotte, a volunteer here at the Bhopal Medical Appeal,. Here are some of my musings on the legal process in the Bhopal case, and my general anger at the lack of accountability from executives and corporations.
‘when you get to be 87 or 85 years old…you try to put bad things out of your mind’
- says Lilian Anderson, wife of Warren Anderson, wanted for culpable homicide since 1987… http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/08/01/national/main5204098.shtml
Can the Bhopalis, 500,000 affected, can they put it out of their minds? Can the generations that came after the disaster forget so easily? They still suffer daily. Many lost their entire families, were orphaned, widowed, left without adequate health care or money to buy food and shelter. Many still suffer with debilitating conditions which hinder their everyday lives. They cant get a job. Or get re married. Or claim compensation from the state. So how easy is it to forget, Mrs Anderson, standing in the driveway of one of your 3 houses, your Cadillac glinting in the Long Island sunshine?
Excuse this rant, but it seems to me that some people are of the impression that its silly to try to extradite Warren Anderson for his central role in the deadly industrial disaster in Bhopal in 1984, simply because he’s getting on a bit. Well, sorry, that’s just not good enough.
The Bhopali’s have been let down consistently- by the judicial system, by the Indian and US governments, by Union Carbide and by Dow Chemical. What value is put on an Indian life? 470 Million dollars apparently, or enough compensation for a registered survivor to have a cup of chai a day. * UCC, Supreme Court of India and Indian Government accept paltry sum 14/2/1989, without consultation of survivors. This story could have been very different, perhaps if the winds were blowing towards the west…
Union Carbide Corporation are guilty from when they first set up the factory, and are still responsible, 26 years on from the disaster.
Warren Anderson is accused No.1. He has been on bail since 1984, and has repeatedly ignored summons to stand trial in an Indian Court, and was officially declared an ‘absconder from justice’ on February 1st, 1992. Now it seems that finally he may be extradited, and be forced to stand trial. Why has this process taken so long that people start to question why we are bothering at all?
Well, its a long story of systematic corruption, of backtracking, of disputed settlements, of negligence…but most importantly, I suggest, is is a story that reveals a total lack of will to do anything about it.
It is not in the Indian Governments interest to try to get justice for Bhopal. I do not think it is too cynical to suggest that their bigger concerns are over US investment in India and the money this generates for the economy..
a letter written to U.S. State Department review authority Archie M. Bolster (dated July, 24, 2003) by probably a U.S. industry representative (writer’s name not clear), it is explicitly stated that “the request [to extradite Mr. Anderson] should be rejected. No issue has greater potential to destroy U.S. business leaders’ confidence in India than the handling of the Warren Anderson case.” It also states that the extradition request was “sheer hypocrisy” and that its “chilling effect on American investment abroad cannot be overstated.”- http://beta.thehindu.com/news/national/article58417.ece?homepage=true
It is not in the US Governments interest either, to track down Anderson, and bring him to trial.
It is a tale that raises the question of corporate responsibility. Corporations, after all, are devised in such a way that evades personal responsibility- a corporation has no feelings and no moral sensibilities.
Corporations were given the rights of immortal persons. But then special kinds of persons, persons who had no moral conscience. These are a special kind of persons, which are designed by law, to be concerned only for their stockholders. And not, say, what are sometimes called their stakeholders, like the community or the work force or whatever. - Noam Chomsky
Warren Anderson, CEO of the corporation that failed to implement core safety measures in a highly reactive environment and once the disaster had occurred failed to provide information about the make-up of the compound gases and failed to provide adequate compensation to victims and failed again to clean up the site that was still spilling its deadly toxins and said, at the time, that
‘Union Carbide has a moral responsibility in this matter, and we are not ducking it.’ - Anderson - Time Magazine, December 24, 1984
This on going tragedy, as children are still born with disabilities and illnesses, which is increasing as the contamination spreads deeper, and claims more lives daily, may have faded from Lilian and Warrens minds, but it will never fade from the minds of those effected and from the people who fight for justice.
‘When all this is over, I don’t think anyone will accuse Union Carbide of stonewalling or running away from the issue.’
Wishful thinking from Warren Anderson, Union Carbide’s former CEO. Quoted in The Washington Post, February 24, 1985
It is time for this hypocrisy to end. Anderson must face up to his and his companies crimes.