With 100 days to go for Olympics, anti-Dow protests gather momentum

Vidya Ram London | Updated on November 15, 2017

Protestors gathered near the Olympic Stadium in East London to mark the 10,000th day since the world's worst industrial accident in Bhopal in 1984. With just under 100 days to go for the Games, the protest movement against its most controversial sponsors is gaining momentum.

The protestors unveiled a banner or “alternative wrap” with powerful images of victims of the tragedy. Along with being one of the International Olympic Committee's “TOP” sponsors through to 2020, Dow Chemicals is set to provide the Olympic stadium with a wrap something that Mr Sebastian Coe, the chair of the Games' Organising Committee (LOCOG) described as the “icing on the cake.”

Among those protesting was Mr Sanjay Verma, a Bhopal victim and campaigner, who lost both parents and five siblings on the night of the disaster. During his two-week visit to Britain, Mr Verma said he hoped to meet with organisers of the Games to give them the perspective of victims. “I want to explain to them what happened... we need to set a precedent for corporations. Bhopal can happen anywhere,” he said. “Bhopal did not just happen... it is still happening.”

While the campaign had been promised a meeting with LOCOG weeks ago it had “heard not a peep” from them since, said Mr Tim Edwards, a trustee of the Bhopal Medical Appeal. “They are burying their head in the sand.”

At the time of writing, LOCOG would not comment on this.

Ms. Farah Edwards Khan, also in Bhopal at the time of the disaster, accused LOCOG of pre-judging the outcome of court cases in India. “They are causing so much pain by taking up this sponsorship. They should be ashamed of themselves.”

The protest movement has been gathering pace: Earlier this week campaigners opposing Dow Chemicals, BP and Rio Tinto's involvement in the Games organised Greenwash Gold, an awareness raising event to pick the Games' “worst sponsor”. The prize will be awarded during the Games, challenging the promise of LOCOG that this would be the “most sustainable” Games ever. “LOCOG is making a mockery of that ideal,” said Mr. Edwards. The protestors plan to maintain the momentum in the run up to the Games. “We have never had so many allies in the UK and this will only get stronger in the next 100 days,” he said.

LOCOG, which has been facing much criticism, including from some British parliamentarians, has stuck to the line that it had confirmed that “Dow never owned or operated the facility in Bhopal and remediation is under the control of the courts in India.”

Published on April 20, 2012

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