On Monday the 6th of May Members of the Asian Ban Asbestos Network convened in Geneva to hold a press conference and demonstration with white roses and burning candles to commemorate the more than 200,000 people dying from asbestos-related diseases every year.
The group also submitted an open letter to the COP9 Rotterdam Convention calling for an international ban on asbestos. The letter was signed by organizations that together represent over 200 million workers worldwide, including asbestos victims groups, the BWI and the International Trade Union Confederation ITUC.
A Russian pro-chrysotile delegation tried to interrupt the demonstration by shouting out their pro-asbestos slogans and holding up banners stating “No Chrysotile Ban” and “Chrysotile Forever.”
Condemning the pro-asbestos propaganda, Fiona Murie, Global Director Construction and Health and Safety of the Building and Wood Workers International, told the group:
“They don't care about the science, or the international consensus regarding the need to stop using chrysotile asbestos – because they make their money from selling it. They don't care about the suffering and human costs, because it is not their class that is affected.
They don't care about the economic costs, because those costs are externalised and picked up by the taxpayer. These vested interests [at the] United Nations have made a laughing stock of the Rotterdam Convention. It is simply not fit for purpose... We demand to be heard – chrysotile asbestos belongs in the last century, not this one.”