Archives for posts with tag: Wikileaks


The video ….

The Yes Men strike again impersonating a Dow Chemical spokesman on BBC, “Jude Finisterra” promises a huge compensation for the thousands of victims of the Bhopal disaster in which Dow Chemical’s subsidiary Union Carbide India was responsible for in 1984.

… and some recent background on Bhopal, the Olymics and Wikileaks

We will carry the torch of Bhopal to London’s Olympic Games. Why is Dow Chemical being allowed to sponsor this year’s Olympics, when there are so many unanswered questions?

This week has been surreal. On Monday, at 7.30am, the phone rang. It was Farah and Tim, friends from Brighton who help run our tiny Bhopal Medical Appeal. They said Mike Bonanno of activist network the Yes Men had just phoned to say we must drop everything and go straight to the Frontline Club in London. WikiLeaks was about to release a number of secret intelligence reports in which we were all named. A private intelligence agency has been spying on us for handlers at Dow Chemical.

How bizarre. I’d forgotten I was an activist. What of the others? What could Dow be hoping to find? Much named in the reports is Colin Toogood, a qualified architect turned DJ who has been doing wonderful work with damaged children in Bhopal.

Then there are “the Edwards”, as Dow’s anti-activist squad calls them. Tim, back in 1999, cycled from Brighton to Bhopal to raise money for our free clinic. In the city’s gas-affected slums he met a pretty Bhopal girl translating for a foreign film crew. She liked him, and instantly and inevitably they fell in love. She turned out to be a princess, the great-granddaughter of the last begum (queen) of Bhopal.

If this sounds like the fantasy of a desperate Hollywood screenwriter, imagine pitching the story of Bhopal to a studio producer. Nobody would believe it.

For almost 30 years, some of the poorest people on earth, sick, living on the edge of starvation, without funds, friends or political influence, have found themselves struggling for their lives against one of the world’s richest corporations, backed by the governments, military and economic elites of two of the world’s most powerful nations.

The corporation has it all – wealth, power, political influence, top American and Indian lawyers, PR companies, the ear of presidents, prime ministers and legislators, the power to twist arms, bend policy to its will, and manipulate the courts and laws of two countries to evade justice in either.

The “nothing people”, literally, have nothing. Their efforts to obtain medical help and justice have been opposed and obstructed in every possible way. It’s David against an army of Goliaths.

The Bhopal survivors, thrown back on their own resources, made the pleasant discovery that the slums were full of talent. Out of this poorest of communities came a flowering of science, art and political intelligence. They taught themselves medicine, environmental science, law and politics. They learned the art of forensic investigation, and some of their detective work has the dramatic edge of a Le Carré thriller.

Neglected by every authority that had a duty of care, they have practised kindness and compassion, opened two free award-winning clinics, and brought healing to thousands.

Union Carbide, whose gases killed their families and whose abandoned chemicals contaminated their drinking water, has never been brought to justice. Carbide has now merged into Dow, but Dow disclaims responsibility for Carbide’s undischarged Bhopal liabilities – including criminal charges relating to 25,000 deaths.

What have we “activists” been doing? Trying to tell this story to the world, and to ask good-hearted people, who believe in justice and fair play, to help.

Last year saw the arrival among the ranks of Dow’s rich and powerful allies of the International Olympic Committee, and the London 2012 organisers Locog, headed by a British milord, the erstwhile Seb Coe. What on earth possessed Coe and Locog to drag a foreign corporation with a controversial history into Britain’s “greenest ever” games?

In vain it seems, India’s government, the Indian Olympics Association, Indian athletes, as well as Bhopal survivors, have protested at the inclusion of Dow, deeply mired in the Bhopal disaster.

When Locog uncritically repeats Dow’s PR statements, varying them by hardly a word, when those same statements are being challenged in court by the Indian government, they are in effect finding for Dow before the court has even sat.

The media in the UK and elsewhere could do a lot more to investigate the things that Dow says. In particular, here are the questions everyone should ask: who controls Union Carbide; why does Carbide not answer the criminal charges; whose chemicals are causing the current poisoning?

Finally, for the benefit of Dow and Coe, here is my own deepest understanding of what Bhopal is about, and the reason why I will never abandon the people of Bhopal.

A great catastrophe, followed by years of illness, poverty and injustice, can overwhelm and crush the human spirit, or can enable ordinary people to discover that they are extraordinary. Such people find that they have the grit to survive, the defiance to face their persecutors, and the courage to fight back. Out of shared struggle, even in the midst of terrible sickness, comes strength, the joy of friendship, the realisation that they are not weak, powerless or contemptible, but possessed of great power – the power to bring about political change, to do real good in their community and in the world.

No one knows how this story will end, but it won’t be over until we enter and become part of it.


‘It’s hard not to draw the conclusion that Manning’s trial was about sending a message: the US government will come after you’ – Widney Brown

Despite an acquittal on the most serious “aiding the enemy” charge against him, today’s verdict against the US Private Bradley Manning reveals the US government’s misplaced priorities on national security, said Amnesty International this evening.

Amnesty International’s Senior Director of International Law and Policy Widney Brown said:

“The government’s priorities are upside down. The US government has refused to investigate credible allegations of torture and other crimes under international law despite overwhelming evidence.

“Yet they decided to prosecute Manning who it seems was trying to do the right thing – reveal credible evidence of unlawful behaviour by the government. You investigate and prosecute those who destroy the credibility of the government by engaging in acts such as torture which are prohibited under the US Constitution and in international law.

“The government’s pursuit of the ‘aiding the enemy’ charge was a serious overreach of the law, not least because there was no credible evidence of Manning’s intent to harm the USA by releasing classified information to WikiLeaks.

“Since the attacks of September 11, we have seen the US government use the issue of national security to defend a whole range of actions that are unlawful under international and domestic law.

“It’s hard not to draw the conclusion that Manning’s trial was about sending a message: the US government will come after you, no holds barred, if you’re thinking of revealing evidence of its unlawful behaviour.”

The court martial today found Manning guilty of a range of additional charges, including ten lesser charges relating to misuse of classified information to which he had already pleaded guilty. Amnesty insisted that any sentence imposed for the other charges must take into account information relating to Manning’s reasonable belief that he was exposing serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

Amnesty believes it undermines accountability when the US government is so selective about who it chooses to investigate and prosecute. This is particularly true when they seem intent on punishing those who reveal unlawful government behaviour and protecting those who actually engaged in or ordered such behaviour.

The hundreds of thousands of documents Manning released to WikiLeaks included videos and dossiers that pointed to potential human rights violations – including breaches of international humanitarian law – by US troops abroad and the CIA closer to home.

Earlier this month Amnesty described the judge’s decision not to drop the charge accusing Manning of “aiding the enemy” as ludicrous and as a decision which “makes a mockery of the US military court system”.