- On 21 August at least 13 members of the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) were attacked in Greater Kolkata, West Bengal, allegedly by supporters of the ruling political party. A group of up to 60 people attacked a peaceful meeting, kicking and beating the participants. Although the police station was less than 50m away, the police reportedly failed to assist or protect the APDR members until the attackers dispersed several hours later. Several of the victims required hospital treatment for serious injuries.
Economic, social and cultural rights
Despite positive economic gains in recent years, approximately 300 million people remained in poverty.
In October a spokesperson from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria stated that AIDS/HIV infection rates were rising and that India possibly had the world’s largest number of people living with HIV.
Bhopal 20 years on
Twenty years after the Union Carbide Corporation’s (UCC) pesticide plant in Bhopal leaked toxic gases, the plant site had still not been cleared up and toxic wastes continued to pollute the environment and groundwater. More than 7,000 people died within days of the 1984 leak and 15,000 more died in the following years as a result of the toxins, while tens of thousands more were living with chronic and debilitating illnesses. Survivors continued to be denied adequate compensation, medical help and rehabilitation. No one had been held responsible for the leak. UCC and Dow Chemicals (which took over UCC in 2001) had publicly stated that they had no responsibility for the leak or its consequences. UCC refused to appear before a court in Bhopal and the Indian government agreed to a final settlement in 1989 which was inadequate and was not paid out entirely. In mid-2004 the Supreme Court ordered that the remaining compensation money for victims of the gas leak be paid out. AI joined with other campaigners and survivors to call for an immediate clean-up of the pollutants, site and the affected surroundings, a full remedy for the victims, and to demand that those responsible be brought to justice.
AI country visits
AI delegates attended the World Social Forum in Mumbai in January to discuss issues including arms control, corporate accountability and violence against women.