• Wednesday, May 29, 2024


Dow shareholders urged to ensure justice for Bhopal gas victims

File photo of the children of third generation gas victims attend with relatives a candlelight vigil held by various gas victim organisations to commemorate Bhopal gas disaster in Bhopal on December 1, 2018. (GAGAN NAYAR/AFP via Getty Images)

Shajil KumarBy: Shajil Kumar

Ahead of Dow’s annual general meeting on April 11, Amnesty International has approached the company’s shareholders to consider withdrawing their investment if it fails to meet its human rights responsibilities towards Bhopal gas leak tragedy victims.

Amnesty has written to the US-based company’s largest investors, sharing its recent report Bhopal: 40 Years of Injustice, and asking them to help address Dow’s failure to adhere to international business and human rights standards since it purchased Union Carbide Corporation in 2001.

Union Carbide owned the pesticide plant in the Indian city of Bhopal at the time of the disastrous gas leak on December 2, 1984. About 40 tonnes of lethal Methyl Isocyanate gas leaked from the plant and quickly killed thousands of people living near the plant.

It is estimated that more than 22,000 people have died prematurely as a direct result of exposure to the gas, with deaths continuing to occur. More than 500,000 were injured or have suffered permanent harm.

Amnesty International’s Head of Business and Human Rights Mark Dummett said the human rights abuses resulting from the gas leak and site contamination are unresolved and ongoing.

“Survivors and their descendants are still awaiting just compensation, a thorough clean-up of their environment, adequate medical assistance and treatment, punishment of all perpetrators, and comprehensive economic and social rehabilitation,” he added.

Amnesty has approached major Dow investors including Vanguard Group, BlackRock, and State Street. “We have written to major investors in Dow and asked them to engage with us and to raise concerns directly with the company about the continuing human rights abuses in Bhopal,” he said.

The letter asks investors to ensure that Dow reports on its responsibilities regarding Bhopal based on the UN Guiding Principles and publicly discloses its findings without delay.

Amnesty has urged the investors to ensure that Dow provides additional compensation to Bhopal survivors, contributes an appropriate and fair financial sum towards clean-up works at the contaminated plant site and surrounding areas, and discloses all information about the leaked methyl isocyanate gas, and other chemicals released.

It should include their toxicity, long-term impact on people’s health, and the most appropriate medical treatment.



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