January 9 2012
As part of the international campaign “200 days to drop Dow Chemical as sponsors” five organizations of the survivors of the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal today organized a protest action. Victims of the Bhopal disaster and those poisoned due to toxic waste from the abandoned factory in Bhopal, joined victims of Dow Chemical in Vietnam, Nicaragua, United States and England to demand that the organizing committee of the London Olympics, set to begin from July 27 this year, cancel Dow Chemical’s sponsorship.
The survivors’ organizations said that through its purchase of Union Carbide in 2001, Dow Chemical has inherited the criminal, civil and environmental liabilities of Union Carbide in Bhopal. They said that by having this corporation as a sponsor the Olympics organizing committee was encouraging it to continue to evade its liabilities in Bhopal. “It is ironical that champion runner Sebastian Coe is helping Dow run away from its liabilities in Bhopal,” said Rashida Bee, president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Stationery Karmchari Sangh.
Standing with raised fists in the shape of a diamond, that of Dow’s logo, hundreds of children with birth defects and survivors of the disaster held up a sign saying “Don’t let Dow contaminate the Olympics”.
Balkrishna Namdeo of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha said “Dow Chemical has paid compensation to victims of Union Carbide in USA after it took over the company, but in the Indian Supreme Court it is refusing to honour liabilities to pay additional compensation to Bhopal victims.” In a soon to be heard curative petition survivors’ organizations are seeking $8.1 billion as additional compensation for the continuing deaths and injuries caused by the disaster.
Safreen Khan of Children Against Dow-Carbide holds Dow Chemical responsible for the contamination of ground water in her community. She pointed out that because of Dow Chemical’s refusal to clean up the hazardous waste left by Union Carbide factory, 40000 people are routinely exposed to cancer and birth defect causing chemicals. She said that by allowing Dow Chemical as a sponsor Lord Coe was encouraging Dow to continue to poison the unborn.
Nawab Khan, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha said that Dow Chemical was sheltering Union Carbide which is charged with culpable homicide for the disaster in Bhopal and is absconding from Indian courts. He said that Dow Chemical is also facing criminal charges for bribing Indian officials. “Sponsorship by a criminal corporation such as Dow Chemical is against the very spirit of Olympics. Lord Coe is not only doing a disservice to the Bhopal victims, he is betraying all who are part of the Olympic movement.” he charged.
Meanwhile the indefinite dharna (sit in) for additional compensation from Dow Chemical by the five survivors’ organizations continued on its seventh day at the Yadgare Shahajahani park. The organizations are also demanding withdrawal of criminal cases against 2000 gas victims and release of 15 persons who continue to be in jail in connection with the incident of violence on the 27th Anniversary of the disaster.
Rashida Bi, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh
Balkrishna Namdeo Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
Safreen Khan, Children Against Dow-Carbide
Satinath Sarangi, Rachna Dhingra, Bhopal Group for Information and Action 9826167369