The "Yes Men" have struck again
Not an easy anniversary: 20 years ago, a chemical plant of the US company Union Carbide blew up in Bhopal, India – tens of thousands died, hundreds of thousands are still damaged today. The BBC reported that Dow Chemical, which bought Union Carbide in 2001, was finally taking responsibility for the disaster. But then it turned out that the live interviewed company spokesman was a "Yes Man" was.
On 3. December 1984, water got into a tank containing methyl isocyanate at a pesticide plant shortly after midnight, causing it to explode: 40 tons of the toxic substance were released and drifted over the city as a cloud of gas. The first victims die in a few minutes, others only after months. Even days later, no one knew what had happened. Union Carbide, owner of the factory, claims that an employee known to and covered by the Indian police deliberately triggered the catastrophe, but journalist Rajkumar Keswani warned years before the accident about the lack of safety devices at the plant, which had already stopped production. The introduction of water into empty tanks was part of the normal cleaning procedure, so a wrongly set valve was already enough to trigger the catastrophe. Moreover, the tanks were overfilled and unchilled.
Today, children play on the contaminated site
Even 20 years after the accident, the factory site has not been cleaned up and the victims or their survivors have not been fully provided for even with the $470 million provided by the company, which amounted to about $1,000 per person. The residents of Bhopal continue to be poisoned.
In 2001, the remains of Union Carbide were taken over by Dow Chemical. This company does not feel responsible for the condition of the land in Bhopal or the victims, because they did not own the factory in Bhopal in 1984.
All the more surprising was an interview given to the BBC by a supposed Dow company spokesman, in which he said: "I am very happy to announce today that for the first time, Dow is taking full responsibility for the Bhopal disaster." The compensation will also go to the 120,000 victims who could use medical care for the rest of their lives, and the factory site will be cleaned up. "We have decided to liquidate Union Carbide, the nightmare for the world that is causing Dow headaches".
The interview had already been broadcast twice when, after two hours, Dow Chemical contacted the BBC and found out that it had been taken in by a hoax. There is a sense of relief – on the one hand, because the joke, which lasted only a short time, could have raised false hopes in Bhopal, and on the other hand, because this is the second time in a year that the venerable BBC has spread a false report.
Whether the Eiffel Tower in the background was at least real?
But the supposedly unknown prankster is by no means an unknown: It is an action of the Yes-Men (The truth is a threat). These have already become known for various website falsifications, from an alleged George-W.-Bush website to the slightly altered copy of the Gatt website, which led to invitations to congresses where real dramas were performed such as the story of the envoy who died from a spoiled cream pie thrown at him (On the aesthetics of the lie). The Transmediale 2002 they had also swallowed with a lecture of a non-existent US minister (Public Spaces Invaders).
And there is also a website about the ethical principles of Dow Chemical, which turns out to be a parody only at second glance, because some of the statements are just too absurd. The BBC had fallen for this website and had published a report on the 29th of March. November for an interview.
Did you know?
Dow is responsible for the birth of the modern environmental movement. Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring, about the side-effects of a Dow product, DDT, led to a groundswell of concern and the birth of many of today’s environmental action groups. Another example of Dow’s commitment to Living. Improved daily.
"Dow Ethics" (Yes Men)
And of course there is another report about the successful BBC-Dow-Hoax, which seems to be from Dow Chemical "Dow Ethics" – which is also again unsuspectingly reprinted on. Additionally the Yes Men also had similar press releases from dowethics.com.
The Dow-Hoax is not new: The Yes Men had already published something similar 2 years ago on dow-chemical.com pulled off. However, since they had registered this website in the name of the son of the Dow CEO, he was able to take possession of it. Previously, Dow had already forced the Yes Men’s provider to completely shut down the entire server, which also affected several other sites. (With the copyright against criticism). To prevent this from happening again, the Dow fake site is now also available on several mirrors.
Dow-Carbide will absolutely not accept the least responsibility for the Bhopal catastrophe caused by our fully owned subsidiary, Union Carbide. Our only responsibility is to our shareholders. Therefore, we cannot and will not do anything to help the victims of the accident. You, however, are free to do what you can, as your conscience dictates
"Dow Ethics" (Yes Men)
The Yes Men offer their own software for creating such easily modified websites. Tip number 1 – registering a similar-sounding domain – should be taken with a grain of salt in Germany, however, as it can quickly cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of euros even for clearly distinguishable websites dealing with different topics.