ricardo dominguez on Tue, 11 Mar 2003 07:14:02 +0100 (CET)

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March 10, 2003 


Action Ends on March 17th, 2003

Dow Chemical is going to court this week in India. Not as the defendants
for their ongoing responsibility for the Bhopal disaster, but as the
plaintiffs: Dow is suing the SURVIVORS of the disaster for protesting at a
Dow plant, and--we're not making this up--they're demanding US$10,000 from
them... about 10 years of wages at local rates.

But pesky internet activists are showing Dow there is no escape, with a
virtual sit-in of Dow's internet Greenwash headquarters, Bhopal.com

Dow's unapologetic website, which includes an "incident review," denies
that Dow purchased any liability for the disaster when they bought Union
Carbide, which was the majority stakeholder in the Bhopal plant (even
though Dow did pay up for Union Carbide's asbestos liabilities in the
First World). The site also states that "The legacy of those killed and
injured is a chemical industry that adheres voluntarily to strict safety
and environmental standards." (You may want to read that sentence again
just to be sure you got it right.)

After the 1984 gas leak, which has killed 20,000 people to date, Union
Carbide abandoned the factory site and fled India. For 18 years since, the
toxic wastes left by Union Carbide have been bleeding poisons into the
groundwater and affecting the health of the people living near the
factory. Dow merged with Union Carbide in 2001 and paid up for Union
Carbide's asbestos liabilities, but it refuses to do the same for Bhopal.

Dow has faced may protests since taking over Union Carbide, but suing the
victims represent a new low in Dow's attempts to gag its critics. Most of
the survivors come from the poorest sections of Indian society. To
reinforce its message, therefore, Dow is asking for a monetary settlement
from the victims. The amount they seek represents an average Indian's
earnings over 10 to 20 years. The cause? Dow's "loss of business".

If Dow sues real-life protesters into silence, protest will spring up
elsewhere. This protest hopes to show Dow that the only way to really
silence protest will be to spend a small fraction of its US$28 billion
annual turnover on cleaning up Bhopal.

A virtual sit-in is simply an automated way of sending lots of traffic to
a website.  Activists around the world park their browsers on a page which
does nothing more than automatically load the bhopal.com site several
times a minute. In the same way that a real-world sit-in disrupts traffic,
the virtual sit-in makes the target site less responsive and slow.  
Eventually, the site may become so crowded with protestors that it stops
serving information completely.

The virtual sit-in will be located at The Yes Men's hugely successful
spoof of Dow's website: http://www.dowethics.com/bhopal.com/. Dow has been
playing whack-a-mole with the DowEthics.com site, launching several
abortive legal attempts to shut it down, only to have new activists set it
up in a new spot on the internet. Other parts of the site explain more
honestly why Dow refuses to clean up Bhopal and why image is everything to

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