Dow Action Diary: Day 16

On July 17, activist Diane Wilson began a hunger strike in front of the gates of the Dow Chemical/Union Carbide corporation in Seadrift, Texas. She hopes to call attention to the plight of victims of 1984's industrial accident in Bhopal, India where, to date, Dow has still not cleaned up the derelict factory or adequately compensated the victims and survivors. Supporting Diane are Jodie Evans and other members of the group UnReasonable Women. What follows are excerpts from the daily emails Jodie and others send to the hundreds of supporters also on hunger strikes around the world in support of the victims of Bhopal.

At the employee entrance only a few stopped to take the flyer, pickup trucks flowed past us one after the other, most avoiding eye contact, some couldn't get past fast enough.

Bart, director of operations came after about 30 minutes, ZERO with a circle around it on his left breast pocket.

"We have complaints from employees you are dangerous out here." (The truth, but not in the way he meant it.) Diane explained no one was stopping so she didn't understand the complaint. He walked away after doing his duty, and we left having accomplished our goal.

I had just finished setting up and was climbing in the back with Diane when two cop cars with lights flashing crossed the center divider and drove up onto the grass coming at us in the wrong direction. "Diane, we have company."

copThey strolled up a bit laid back, "Hi Diane." She went to school with his dad.

"We had a complaint." They listened to our side of the story quite graciously and left to hear the other side.

When they returned we were told it was OK to do what we were doing (so much for threats of calling the cops) but if there was an accident there would be two people at fault and the employees had been instructed not to stop for security reasons. I tell Diane she's out there with a sandwich board sign tomorrow. We called her friend to get them ready.

If you mess it up, please clean it up
-- slogan from Dow

Dow, clean up your mess in Bhopal.

No one should be a safety statistic.
-- slogan from Dow

What are the 20,000 dead in Bhopal?

After the sheriffs left there was some peace (not quiet, the trains were moving all day).

Up storms a very frazzled PR woman, Kathy, fuming. Proof that all your calls are effective. Nina Utne made her real nervous and getting the big bosses on her back probably isn't helping her state of mind. Keep those calls coming.

"I NEED TO ASK YOU SOME QUESTIONS!" Every question she rattled out Diane had a clear and quiet answer to.

Kathy: "How can you say a continuous black cloud is coming from the factory?"

Diane: "Because it was that day."

Kathy: "You make it sound like it happens everyday."

Diane: "No, I was doing a report about that day."

Kathy: "You are putting stuff out there that isn't true."

Diane picked up the printout from the Dow Website on Bhopal I had been reading, handed it to Kathy and said, "And just what are you doing?"

"And who is this man you say is dead, there is only one who fell in the water and he has a lawsuit against us."

"Well there is another and he is dead."

Kathy demands to know his name. "Why is this woman from California asking about our road?" (I didn't, Diane did, but I am clearly stirring things up and she wants me out of it.)

"Kathy, you came out to the truck the first day and told me this isn't a local issue, so I have found some." Kathy was at full tilt and stormed off.

Sue called very concerned about Diane's health, so Diane's aunt, a nurse is coming to check her vitals tomorrow.

An invitation goes out via press release and email from Diane to the world:

Please join her on the 15th at whatever level you feel comfortable, starting with joining her on the hunger strike, getting a petition signed, going to the nearest Dow office or Indian consulate/embassy to either picket with the signs they can download from Indra or sit in and demand an audience, to staying even after they are told to leave and risk arrest. If they want to organize around a local issue and Dow, great. Diane will be doing all of it, the invitation will be sent out around the world.

In Seadrift, on the 12th we have arranged for an environmental meeting to discuss the zero discharge agreement, which Diane has a resolution on from the city council and the county, and the closing of the public road by Dow. That night and the next two days we will leaflet the area for those that want to join in on the 15th at the plant, it will end with a sit in at the Dow office requesting Zero discharge, linking it to the irresponsibility of Dow in Bhopal. The day will begin with a press conference so the issues can be clearly stated and proceed from there. Justice in Bhopal will be the main focus.

With the invitation will be the what and the whys (with lots of guidance from Kinnu). The 15th of August is the day India received Independence, now we ask for Independence from Corporate rule. It will include the requests that have stayed the same for the last 18 years and something about the tragedy continuing if the sentence is lowered on August 27. Kinnu has a great visual for the actions, brooms, to help them clean up the mess.

We need to finish this by Sunday night for broadcast monday, anyone who wants to take on organizing something in their area let me know also, and remember, make it simple, you showing up is enough, ask Diane.

I am sad to think tomorrow is my last day, to sit with the enormous heart and soul of Diane, under the big (hot) Texas sky has been a gift from the Gods.

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