Thursday, July 26, 2012


Welcome to the Olympics brought to you partially buy Union Carbide and Dow Chemical.

Let's see, why does that Union Carbide name ring a bell?  Oh yeah, they're the folks who killed thousands of Indians at Bhopal back when, aren't they?

The survivors don't want you to forget what happened and they don't want you to forget that Dow has yet to meet its responsibility to the dead and to the survivors. They don't want yu to forget those thousands who died in hideous ways.  They don't want you to forget the corporate kingpins who never went to jail.  They don't want you to forget the Empire that didn't care.  They don't want you to forget that this sort of crap goes on everyday somewhere out there.   They don't want you to forget that a year long attempt to convince the Olympic bosses to drop Dow failed.

The Bhopal Medical Appeal reminds us:

Dow Chemical’s Olympic sponsorship legitimises its abnegation of responsibility for the health and wellbeing of Bhopal, thereby perpetuating the denial of basic rights to thousands of suffering people.

We celebrate the Olympics, their ancient sanctity and nobility of spirit. We salute the Games that unite us all in delight at the health, strength, beauty and grace of the young contestants from around the world. All of these things the association with Dow therefore debases and disgraces.

In addition:

With the theme “From East India Company to The Dow Chemical Company”, the opening ceremony will draw attention to the many famines caused by British rule over India, the mass hanging in the wake of the first battle for Indian independence in 1857, the massacre at Jalianwala Baug in 1919 and the support extended by the British Prime Minister to the Dow Chemical Company.

The Bhopal Medical Appeal joined five other organizations joined together to organize the "Bhopal special Olympics" which was held the day before the opening of the London Olympics.  Taking part in this special Olympics are children born with disabilities due to the poisoning by Union Carbide.  The poisoning by the way has not ended. 

The special Olympics protest games featured children like Zehara Javed who won the crab walking competition as the only girl entered in that even.

The Times of India takes up the story:

Zehra's father Mohd Javed is a victim of gas tragedy. "He was severely affected after the MIC exposure. Consequently, his eyes and kidney were badly affected," Javed's wife Noosrat Jehan said with tears rolled down her eyes.

Zehra is a second generation gas victim with congenital physical problems. "After her birth, we came to know that she could not speak and her one leg was not developed. Later, we got to know that it was just because of the ill-effects of the gas that she got from her father," Noosrat said recounting her woes.

Noosrat said: "With our participation, my family and I wanted to protest against the Dow Chemicals. We can't accept that the company which should own the legacy of the Union Carbide has been supported by the international Olympic Committee ( IOC)."

Referring to the participants like Zehra, Rachna Dhingra, one of the organizers, said, "This is what we wanted to convey to the London Olympics organisers that despite facing odds in the life, even small kids affected from gas would keep protesting the decision of taking sponsorships from Dow chemicals."

The following is from AFP.

'Bhopal Games' denounce London sponsor Dow

BHOPAL, India — Disabled children living near the site of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster -- many in wheelchairs, others crawling -- staged a protest Olympics Thursday targeting London 2012 sponsor Dow Chemical.

About 100 children took part in the "Bhopal Special Olympics" at a muddy sports ground in the shadow of the Union Carbide factory responsible for the world's worst industrial accident.

The event, organised on the eve of Friday's Olympics opening ceremony, aimed to highlight the suffering of people in the central Indian city and the links to Dow Chemical, which took over fellow US group Union Carbide in 2001.
"The children are born like this because of the gas," said Kesar Bai, a 45-year-old mother from a slum near the plant who believes that the disaster and its lingering impact caused her son Pratap's severe cerebral palsy.

She broke down in tears at the the sight of Pratap, strapped into his wheelchair, being pushing around the makeshift sports track along with the gaggle of disabled participants, mostly aged between eight and 16.

"I was thinking 'if there hadn't been this tragedy, then so many would not be born like this'," she said, adding that in the area around her shack there were 10-12 disabled children.

The disaster killed 8,000-10,000 people within the first three days, according to data from the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), but hundreds of thousands more suffer the consequences.

Immediately after the 40 tonnes of methyl isocyanate gas leaked, survivors remember the slums surrounding the pesticide plant being littered with people, many unconscious, vomiting or frothing at the 
"We woke up at 02:00 am in the night. Everyone was running. If you fell down, they ran over you," Bai recalled.
The old moth-balled factory still stands to this day, lightly guarded and open to children who are reported to play there. Thousands of tonnes of highly toxic waste remain in the area, slowly leeching into the groundwater.

A 2009 study by the independent Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment found water 3.0 kilometres (1.8 miles) from the factory was severely contaminated with chemicals and heavy metals linked to birth defects.

US multinational Dow, a top sponsor of the London Games and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has rebuffed calls for more compensation for the victims.

It points to a 1989 deal that saw Union Carbide pay the Indian government $470 million to settle all of its liabilities. It says any further health and clean-up costs are the state's responsibility.

It adds that Union Carbide had also sold its shares -- and liabilities -- in its Bhopal subsidiary to an Indian company five years before Dow began its $35-billion takeover of the group in 1999.

A spokesman for Dow Chemical, Scott Wheeler, told AFP that the company regretted the "misinformed and misdirected allegations" against it.

Its sponsorship of London 2012 has caused immense anger in Bhopal, where protest posters have been pasted around the city, and it led the Indian government to ask the IOC to drop the Michigan-based firm.

Some of the anger is also directed at Britain. Winners of the races collected medals in front of a poster depicting the Bengal famine of 1943 blamed on Winston Churchill.

The opening ceremony featured a re-enactment of a colonial-era massacre by soldiers in the northwestern city of Amritsar in 1919.

"A lot to be ashamed of if one is a Brit," read one banner hung from a crumbling concrete stand in which several hundred spectators clapped the children during the 90 minutes of sport.

One race was titled "the crab walk" in which three children who were unable to stand heaved themselves down the 25-metre race course with their hands.

As a top-tier sponsor, Dow will display its branding to billions of TV viewers during the Olympics and it has funded a fabric wrap that will go around the main stadium.

Beyond the row about corporate social responsibility, the management of the Bhopal disaster also points to the failings of the Indian state.

Local authorities assumed responsibility for cleaning up the site in 1998 but they have failed to clear the waste. The justice system produced its first convictions only 25 years after the event.

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