Monday, December 06, 2004

A couple of days late marking the anniversary, but

On December 3rd, 1984, thousands of people in Bhopal, India, were gassed to death after a catastrophic chemical leak at a Union Carbide pesticide plant. More than 150,000 people were left severely disabled ––of whom 20,000 have since died of their injuries––in a disaster now widely acknowledged as the world’s worst-ever industrial disaster. None of the six safety systems at the plant were functional, and Union Carbide’s own documents prove the company cut corners on safety and maintenance in order to save money. Today, twenty years after the Bhopal disaster, those who survived the gas remain sick, and the chemicals that Union Carbide left behind in Bhopal have poisoned the water supply and contributed to an epidemic of cancers, birth defects, and other afflictions. Since its purchase of Carbide in 2001, Dow-Carbide has refused to clean up the site, which continues to contaminate those near it. It has refused to fund medical care or livelihood regeneration, and it has refused to stand trial in Bhopal, where the Union Carbide Corporation faces criminal charges of culpable homicide (manslaughter), and has fled these charges for the past 12 years.
International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.
There are echoes of Bhopal in the current Australian activities of James Hardie who, also through a series of legal manouevres, have decided profit has preference over compassion & responsibility & are fighting to stay at arm's-length from compensation claims relating to asbestos deaths. The claims are estimated to amount to around $2billion. Last week James Hardie handed over $82 million to the compensation fund.

20 years before Bhopal was the invasion of Vietnam. 20 years after, the invasion of Iraq. Australia was/is a strong ally of the U.S. in both. Industrial. Military. Forgive me when I say it's not complex but a simple overriding desire for power & profit.

Both countries refuse to ratify the Kyoto Protocol for controlling green house gas emissions. The U.S., like Israel, refuses to recognise the authority of the International Court of Justice fearing that its citizens may be charged with war crimes. The Australian government has just refused to sign a non-aggression treaty with the ASEAN group of countries because, it admits, doing so may offend the U.S. The U.S. has just said (& in doing so have completely demolished their earlier claims that they aren't engaged in torture at Camp Delta - nobody shoots themselves in the foot quite like the military) that confessions obtained through torture are admissable as evidence in the kangaroo court they've set up to try the Guantanamo Bay internees. But then, the U.S. has always refused to recognise that the Geneva Convention rules should apply.

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