India

On March 22, World Water Day, more than 40 people were arrested in New Delhi while protesting against water theft by Coca-Cola and Pepsico. The India Resource Centre reports that more than 300 people marched to the planning commission’s offices to demand action from the government over the soft-drink companies’ creation of severe water shortages and contamination of soil and groundwater. An organiser of the march and one of those detained, Nandlal Master from Lok Samiti and the National Alliance of People’s Movements, said the protest was aimed at “one of the world’s worst abusers of water, the Coca-Cola company”, which has “destroyed the lives of thousands of people in India as a result of its thirst for water”. For more information, visit <http://www.indiaresource.org>.

In an effort to attract investment, the Left Front (LF) government in the state of West Bengal has tried to drive thousands of petty landowners, poor cultivators and wage labourers out of their homes and off their fields, despite this depriving many of them of any means of livelihood. When they resisted, it sent in gun-toting police, killing more than 20 people on January 7 and March 14.

In 1989, 39 pharmaceutical giants sued the government of AIDS-stricken South Africa, seeking to stop it from implementing a law to improve the poor’s access to life-saving AIDS drugs. That aggression sparked a public outcry within South Africa and elsewhere, leading to an international campaign that only ended in 2001 when the 39 companies dropped their case.

Tens of thousands of people continue to suffer the effects of the world’s worst industrial disaster — the chemical explosion and leakage of deadly gasses in 1984 at the Union Carbide (now Dow Chemical) pesticide manufacturing plant in Bhopal, which killed thousands of people. Survivors have launched a hunger strike to demand urgent assistance from the Madhya Pradesh government, including decent health care, uncontaminated drinking water, jobs, and pensions for those who are too ill to work. Wells in Bhopal are poisoned by toxic chemicals leaking from the abandoned factory — which Dow refuses to clean up — including agents known to cause cancer and birth defects. Survivors are also demanding reparations from the company. While the victims and their families continue to suffer, Dow corporate executives have not been brought to justice and continue to live in luxury in the US. Send a message of solidarity to the survivors at . For more information visit http://www.bhopal.net.

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