Survivors of the 1984 Bhopal gas leak disaster have hailed the decision by a watchdog commissioner assigned to monitor the sustainability of the London Olympic Games to quit over Dow Chemicals’ sponsorship of the sporting event.
Survivors and their supporters meeting in Bhopal, capital of Madhya Pradesh, said Meredith Alexander’s resignation from the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 was the right thing to do.
They placed a bouquet of pink roses in front of a picture of Alexander, who is also a senior official of the international charity Action Aid.
They were also taking part in a day-long fast to demand the withdrawal of criminal cases against 2,000 survivors following violence that flared during a protest on the 27th anniversary of the disaster on December 3.
“We hope Meredith’s decision will make the London Olympics Committee dump Dow Chemicals as a sponsor,” said Rashida Bee, president of one five survivor organizations that had called for the day-long fast.
She said that by speaking the truth so boldly, Meredith has exposed the lies of Dow Chemical, which the London Olympic Committee and its chairman Lord Coe believed and propagated till recently. Dow’s sponsorship is estimated at GBP7 million (US$11m).
Writing in The Guardian newspaper yesterday, Alexander said she resigned after an investigation into Dow Chemicals following complaints about its sponsorship deal.
“I was shocked to see that the result of our investigation was a public statement from the commission that essentially portrays Dow a responsible company. I was stunned that it publicly repeated Dow’s line that it bears no responsibility for Bhopal,” she wrote.
“I did everything I could to get the statement corrected or retracted. When it became apparent that this would not happen, I realized that the only way to ensure that my name was not used to justify Dow’s position was to resign,” she said.
Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action said it is time to tell the London organizers that India will not take part in the games if it continues in partnership with a corporation responsible for so much death and suffering in Bhopal.
However news reports today quoted the London Olympics Organizing Committee saying that Dow Chemicals will continue to be one of the sponsors of the games.