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Updated: June 14, 2010 19:25 IST

Human rights activists from India write to Obama

Mahim Pratap Singh
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Javed Akhtar was one of the activists to have signed the letter that asked President Barack Obama to show the same sensitivity and resolve towards Bhopal as he did towards the Gulf of Mexico. File photo: R. Ragu
The Hindu
Javed Akhtar was one of the activists to have signed the letter that asked President Barack Obama to show the same sensitivity and resolve towards Bhopal as he did towards the Gulf of Mexico. File photo: R. Ragu

Human rights activists from all over the country led by prominent Bhopal activist Abdul Jabbar on Monday wrote a letter to Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, drawing his attention to the Bhopal gas leak issue after his tough stance towards British Petroleum Corporation over the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The letter, signed by activists like Harsh Mander, Vandana Shiva, Rohini Hensman, Dr. Vandana Prasad, Shabnam Hashmi, Dr. Vinod Raina and lyricist Javed Akhtar among others, requests Mr. Obama to show the same sensitivity and resolve towards Bhopal as he did towards the Gulf of Mexico.

The letter starts by commending Mr. Obama’s “tough stand against British Petroleum for the oil spill in the Gulf Of Mexico, particularly your demand for corporate accountability for causing huge environmental damages is worthy of emulation by other governments around the World”.

It then draws Obama’s 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” and the fact that 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”.

“…the subtle pressure of the U.S. administration, alien tort laws of the U.S. and the discriminatory legal functioning of the U.S. that puts a higher cost to a U.S. life than that of in Bhopal has made it necessary for the victims to fight on both fronts, the U.S. and the Indian administrations, corporations and judicial systems, for over a quarter of century,” reads the letter asking Mr. Obama if it was “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?”.

Pointing out the lack of accountability displayed by Union Carbide and now Dow, the letter demands that Mr. Obama should allow judicial processes to fix “responsibility of corporations and individuals of the U.S. responsible for the Bhopal carnage”, and work with the “same sense of collaboration with the Indian government on this issue (Bhopal) that you proclaim you have achieved with the Indian government on the issue of ‘global terrorism’” among other things.


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