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Yes Men Score A Hit for Bhopal

sheff_imcista | 03.12.2004 18:13 | Social Struggles | Sheffield | World

The BBC has been forced to apologise after falling for the latest stunt from by The Yes Men ( who impersonated a Dow Chemical spokesman and said the US company accepted responsibility for India's Bhopal disaster.

BBC World broadcast the comments twice by a man identified as Jude Finisterra, but later said it had been the victim of "an elaborate deception".

The Yes Men recently visited Sheffield and publicly endorsed the alt.doc.fest fringe documentary festival that was organised by Sheffield Indymedia:



Hide the following 6 comments

yes ..

03.12.2004 19:45

... I listened to the affair unfold & boy was it cringeworthy when, later, an official[sic] spokesperson had to deny DOWS responsibility for mass murder.

A perfect example of ridicule achieving what invective sometimes can not.

Won't be happy until the criminals are made to pay in full though.

mail e-mail:

Dow statement

04.12.2004 11:52

Check this out (read carefully) :^)

December 3, 2004

"Historic aid package for Bhopal victims" a lie

Contact: Marina Ashanin, Corp. Media Relations, +41-1-728-2347
Related information:

Today on BBC World Television, a fake Dow spokesperson announced fake
plans to take full responsibility for the very real Bhopal tragedy of
December 3, 1984. (1) Dow Chemical emphatically denies this
announcement. Although seemingly humanistic in nature, the fake plans
were invented by irresponsible hucksters with no regard for the

As Dow has repeatedly noted, Dow cannot and will not take
responsibility for the accident. ("What we cannot and will not do...
is accept responsibility for the Bhopal accident." - CEO Michael
Parker, 2002.) The Dow position has not changed, despite public

Dow also notes the great injustice that these pranksters have caused
by giving Bhopalis false hope for a better future assisted by Dow.
The survivors of Bhopal have already suffered 20 years of false hope,
neglect, and abdication of responsibility by all parties. Is that not

To be perfectly clear:

* The Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) will NOT be liquidated. (The
fake "Dow plan" called for the dissolution and sale of Dow's fully
owned subsidiary, estimated at US$12 billion, to fund compensation
and remediation in Bhopal.)

* Dow will NOT commit ANY funds to compensate and treat 120,000
Bhopal residents who require lifelong care. The Bhopal victims have
ALREADY been compensated; many received about US$500 several years
ago, which in India can cover a full year of medical care. (2)

* Dow will NOT remediate (clean up) the Bhopal plant site. We do
understand that UCC abandoned thousands of tons of toxic chemicals on
the site, and that these still contaminate the groundwater which area
residents drink. Dow estimates that the Indian government's recent
proposal to commission a study to consider the possibility of proper
remediation at some point in the future is fully sufficient.

* Dow does NOT urge the US to extradite former Union Carbide CEO
Warren Anderson to India, where he has been wanted for 20 years on
multiple homicide charges. (3)

* Dow will NOT release proprietary information on the leaked gases,
nor the results of studies commissioned by UCC and never released.

* Dow will NOT fund research on the safety of Dow endocrine
disruptors (ECDs) considered to have long-term negative effects.

* Dow DOES agree that "One can't assign a dollar value to doing
what's morally right," as hoaxter Finisterra said. That is why Dow
acknowledged and resolved many of Union Carbide's liabilities in the
US immediately after acquiring the company in 2001. (4)

Again, most importantly of all:

* Dow shareholders will see NO losses, because Dow's policy towards
Bhopal HAS NOT CHANGED. Much as we at Dow may care, as human beings,
about the victims of the Bhopal catastrophe, we must reiterate that
Dow's sole and unique responsibility is to its shareholders, and Dow
CANNOT do anything that goes against its bottom line unless forced to
by law.

For more information please contact Marina Ashanin, Corporate Media
Relations, +41-1-728-2347, or reply to this email.


(1) On December 3, 1984, Union Carbide - now part of Dow -
accidentally killed thousands of residents of Bhopal, India, when its
pesticide plant leaked a vast cloud of lethal gas over the city.
Since that date, at least 12,000 more people have died from
complications, and 120,000 remain chronically ill. The Dow Chemical
Corporation hereby expresses its condolences to the victims.

(2) Union Carbide was originally forced to pay US$470 million in
compensation to survivors, which amounts to about US$500 per victim.
(Note: Dow hereby wishes to retract the 2002 statement of Dow PR Head
Kathy Hunt as to US$500 being "plenty good for an Indian." The poor
phrasing of this statement has often come back to haunt us.)

(3) Arrested in India following the accident, Andersen posted
US$2000 bail and successfully escaped India.

(4) Dow settled Union Carbide's asbestos liabilities in the US, and
paid US$10 million to one family poisoned by a Dow pesticide. This
is a mark of Dow's corporate responsibility.

# 30 #


Reuters - BBC fooled by Bhopal hoaxer

04.12.2004 11:57

BBC fooled by Bhopal hoaxer
Fri Dec 3, 2004 10:14 PM GMT

Bhopal Tragedy Remembered

By Jeffrey Goldfarb

LONDON (Reuters) - The BBC's international TV news channel has apologised after being duped into airing an interview with a fake Dow Chemical spokesman who said the firm would pay billions of dollars in compensation for India's Bhopal disaster.

BBC World broadcast the promise on Friday by a man identified as Jude Finisterra, but later said it had been the victim of "an elaborate deception".

Dow Chemical says it bears no responsibility for one of the world's worst industrial disasters, 20 years ago on Friday, in which more than 3,500 people died after lethal gas escaped from a chemical plant in the central Indian city Bhopal.

Activist Andy Bichlbaum convinced the broadcaster he was a Dow spokesman by putting his number on a fake Web site for the company. The BBC acknowledged it had been duped and apologised for airing the hoax.

Bichlbaum later said his goal was to show that "another world is possible" if Dow did the right thing and paid victims.

In the interview, he told the BBC Dow Chemical was taking responsibility for the disaster and would pay $12 billion (6.2 billion pounds) to victims.

Dow Chemical quickly said the story was not true and "Finisterra" was not its employee. The company says it bears no legal responsibility for the disaster and owes victims nothing.

The Bhopal factory was owned by Union Carbide, now a Dow subsidiary, which paid $407 million to Bhopal residents in 1989.

Several other news organisations including Reuters reported the phoney spokesman's comments to the BBC. Reuters withdrew its story once BBC World said it had been deceived.

"We apologise to Dow and to anyone who watched the interview who may have been misled by it," the BBC said in a statement read out during a subsequent news bulletin. "Of course, the BBC is investigating how the deception happened."


Channel 4 news later identified "Finisterra" as Bichlbaum, whose "Yes Men" group hoaxes businesses and governments and has targeted Dow before over Bhopal.

Bichlbaum told Channel 4 he had carried out the hoax to show what the company should do for the victims for the disaster.

"The 120,000 people that are estimated to need medical care because of the Bhopal catastrophe are going to need it for their whole lives. They've already needed it for 20 years," he said.

Bichlbaum said he heard Bhopal residents broke down in tears when hearing of the report and he felt bad they were disappointed.

"There were people in tears of joy when they found out, and indeed it is very sad that this isn't the case. But you have to realise that this is Dow's doing: Dow could make the tears of joy real," he said.

He could face civil and criminal legal action if tracked down, legal experts say. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has in the past filed charges against individuals who have issued fraudulent statements about firms.

"Finisterra has made false statements that have a connection with a trading market and if he knew they were false, that is a crime," said Professor Steve Thel of New York's Fordham Law School. The SEC declined to comment.

Dow shares fell 0.6 percent to $49.64 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange, which took place after the hoax had been unmasked. They had earlier fallen in Frankfurt after the report by some two euros -- more than three percent -- but recovered to 37.40 euros, just 20 cents down.


04.12.2004 12:04

And make sure you check out this website too..



04.12.2004 14:54

as many people died at Bhopal on the day as in New York on 9/11. That doesn't count the 15,000 since, or the maimed and still dying.


mixed feelings

04.12.2004 20:59

A very well carried out and innovative piece of activism, certainly a worthy cause, but I have to wonder how the Bhopal residents took it after maybe getting their hopes up only to have them cruelly dashed