Human rights activists in London may be interested in this important & impressive event next Saturday, May 21st. The Jaipur Literature Festival is a prestigious annual event in India which is holding an event in London sponsored by Vedanta. Because of Vedanta sponsorship, human rights activists are calling for writers & others to boycott the festival & will be holding a rally against it. It isn’t the festival that is impressive but the opposition to it.

Vedanta is a metal & mining company owned by an Indian billionaire & headquartered in London with operations in India, Australia, Zambia, & South Africa. It has been developing commercial power stations in India. According to a 2015 article in the NY Times, Vedanta is “known in some parts of the world for having left financial & environmental problems in their wake.” If you read the introduction to this event, you will see that is an understatement covering a multitude of labor & environmental crimes.

The activists organizing this event highlight how culture is used by multinational corporations to cover for their criminality & cultivate effete pretensions as a mask for thuggery. The BDS movement has also highlighted that regrettable truth that culture is not neutral in the struggle for social transformation against inequality & brutality.

Please consider joining these activists–who have brilliantly elaborated the relationship between plunder & cultural pretensions–in kicking Vedanta’s ass.

The steady drain of Facebook unfriendings continues apace. If this keeps up I’ll have an entire new set of friends in a couple years–or maybe a decade. It used to be anti-Semitism was the chief cause for parting ways in rather inimical ways. Now, who knows? Is it Palestine? Kashmir? My politics? Or just my lousy personality?

All’s well though. I’m extremely grateful for my Facebook friends who I admire for their insights & as activists & solidarity supporters in many areas of work–fromthe struggle against caste in India; to the struggle against occupation in Kashmir; to the struggle for self-determination in Palestine & Kashmir; to the campaign for justice for the people of Bhopal; for women’s rights around the world; for Black Lives Matter in the US; & for so many other struggles. I have learned more than I can ever say.

To those who have left, no hard feelings. We’ll get along without you somehow.

Who are these Bozos?

Drumpf's presumptive cabinet (Dan Kitwood:Getty Images) May 14 2016

There’s some dispute if this is President Drumpf’s presumptive cabinet or the US Congress in session. In the end, does it really matter? They’re all Bozos.

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

History says, Don’t hope
On this side of the grave,
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up
And hope and history rhyme.

-From “The Cure At Troy” by Seamus Heaney

Bhopal activists demand US government stop covering for Dow in 1984 gas explosion

Bhopal Group for Information & Action

In 1984, there was a toxic gas explosion at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India. The accident was due to neglect of equipment & safety maintenance in order to save money & caused the pesticide plant to leak toxic gas into the city, killing an estimated 25,000 people, injuring half a million, & contaminating the environment & water supply. Union Carbide, a US-owned company, became a subsidiary of Dow Chemical in 2001.

Dow has refused to contain chemical efflux from that explosion all these years which has poisoned the underground water reservoirs. Over 30,000 people still live nearby due to extreme poverty & are forced to drink, bathe, & cook with contaminated water which has created new generations of children suffering chemically-induced illness & serious neurological & physical disabilities & disfigurements–not unlike what the children of Iraq have suffered from US chemical warfare.

The explosion is considered quite justly as one of the world’s worst industrial accidents because the damage is ongoing & unremitting. It is also without question one of the worst cases in the world of legal malfeasance & injustice because attempts to force Dow to clean up the environment & provide compensation to the victims have been manhandled in Indian & US courts.

Dow has refused to appear before Indian courts to face criminal charges from the accident. And in June 2012, in a grotesque case of the wolf guarding the chicken house, a US court absolved Dow of all liability in the Bhopal disaster–which means they are not liable for compensation, remediation or pollution-related claims. Dow was the primary peddler of Agent Orange, the defoliate used by the US military in Vietnam that caused numerous health problems & death among veterans & their offspring & continuing, catastrophic health problems for the people of Vietnam. The US court may have been trying to shield Dow & the US government from an avalanche of litigation from Vietnam as well as from victims in Iraq.

It wasn’t clear how civil & criminal litigation against Dow could proceed after the 2012 ruling or if legal recourse had been exhausted. Now a FB friend & Bhopal activist in India from the Bhopal Group for Information & Action has notified me that a Bhopal court has issued four court notices to Dow since 2014 in criminal litigation against the company.

Dow is ignoring these notices to appear before the Indian court making it a fugitive from justice & in legal maneuvers which violate the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the US & India, the US Department of Justice is running legal interference on behalf of Dow. Activists charge the US government with actively aiding Dow in evading criminal charges.

The latest petition from the Bhopal court demands Dow representatives appear before it on July 13 2016 to answer criminal charges. To force Dow & the US government to respond as required by law, Bhopal activists will be launching a petition this coming Sunday to obtain 100,000 signatures in one month. Time & political support are of the essence.

It’s over 32 years since the Union Carbide explosion & Bhopal activists have become a model of relentless pursuit of justice, including campaigning to have Dow removed as a sponsor of the 2012 Olympics in London & constant protests & memorials demanding justice.

When the petition is posted on Sunday both on FB & on, please consider signing, sharing, & widely distributing on Twitter, FB, & wherever you think it can get support. US citizens have a particular responsibility for addressing the evils of our government & the corporations that rule it but people from around the world are needed to force justice from the US government.

(Photo from FB wall of Roshen Chandran, a Bhopal activist)