From Bhopal to Seadrift, Texas

On June 8, Sathyu Sarangi began a hunger strike on the steps of the Indian Parliament to pressure the government to reverse its decision to reduce criminal charges against Warren Anderson, Union Carbide’s CEO at the time of the Bhopal disaster. Sarangi and two fellow strikers, disaster survivors Tara Bai and Rashida Bi, demanded that Anderson be extradited, that Dow Chemical (which merged with Union Carbide in 2000), be held liable for damages in Bhopal, and that the government fairly distribute disaster relief funds.

Eighteen days later, Bai and Bi collapsed at a rally and were hospitalized. The next day, after an Indian court accepted the protesters’ petition and the government agreed to change the way it distributes the relief funds, Sarangi ended his fast.

That’s when Texas shrimp boat skipper Diane Wilson began her own fast in support. The 53-year-old mother of five, who has spent the past 13 years fighting polluting Gulf Coast chemical companies, including Dow, saw the intimate ties between her struggles and those of the Bhopal survivors.

More than 700 people answered Wilson’s call to join the fast by the time she ended hers, after 29 days, on August 15. (A number of them are part of a new activist collective that Wilson recently helped form, Unreasonable Women for the Earth. Taking the name from Wilson’s description of herself, the group plans to bring a new feminine force to environmental and justice issues. For more information, visit But nine days after ending her strike, Wilson was back at it, this time scaling and chaining herself to a tower at the Dow plant in her hometown of Seadrift, Texas, while holding a banner that read “Dow-Responsible for Bhopal.”

Wilson was arrested and forcibly removed from the site by a SWAT team. She was charged with criminal trespass and resisting arrest.

Meanwhile, on August 29, the Bhopal District Court ruled that the charge of “culpable homicide” against Anderson remained in force and that the Indian government should move to extradite the former Union Carbide CEO.

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