I should be writing about the enormous success the Bhopal Medical Appeal had at WOMAD last weekend, but since I saw BBC News yesterday I’m feeling rather disinclined. Plus, Becky has already summed it up rather well in the previous post.
The news that DOW Chemical will be branding and wrapping the London Olympic Stadium is disappointing yet sadly, unsurprising.
That LOCOG, the Olympic organisers who claim to be committed to sustainability, are willing to partner with Dow brings shame on the UK and yet again, on the Olympic Games and irrevocably demonstrates the ongoing influence of the multinational superpowers in global affairs.
For Dow to be allowed to be associated with a ‘sporting’ event is an insult to the people in Bhopal and to those around the world who support them. Mr Keith Wiggans, Managing Director of Dow UK says it is time to move forward and leave the ‘awful legacies of the past behind” The fundamental point he conveniently neglected to mention is that there is nothing past tense about the situation in Bhopal. Living around the former Union Carbide factory site are some of the poorest people in the Indian city of Bhopal, who for the past 27 years have been slowly poisoned by contaminated groundwater which they use for drinking, cooking and bathing.
For 27 years Union Carbide, and Dow Chemical (who aquired UCC in 2001) have blatantly ignored the fact that tonnes of toxic waste have been dumped and left in Bhopal, and their refusal to clean up the former factory site has resulted in a humanitarian catastrophe that continues today.
Scores of children are born with unimaginable congenital defects: no eyes, fused fingers, physical and mental retardation and virtual catatonia are all commonplace. Entire families suffer chronic ill health and the incidence of various cancers and reproductive problems are far higher than in other parts of India.
I am not long returned from spending several months with the people in Bhopal who are suffering as a consequence of gas and contaminated water exposure. They are some of the bravest, strongest and most resilient people I have ever met, who continue to fight daily against the injustice that has been served to them. They deserve so much better.
Several children from Chingari Trust, one of two free clinics funded by the Bhopal Medical Appeal recently competed, and won medals, in a state level sports meeting for people with disabilities in Bhopal. Shyam Babu won gold in the soft ball throw, Payu won silver in the 100m run and Sach won Gold in the tricycle race. Each of these children has congenital defects, most probably as a direct result of being born to parents who were gas exposed in 1984, or who have been drinking contaminated water for most of their kives. Perhaps Dow could sponsor them in their sporting efforts? Or would that be a little bit too close to the bone?
It is absurd that one of the richest multinationals in the wordl continues to abuse and neglect some of the poorest people, while being positively reinforced by Olympic organisers and the UK government. It is time that the Olympic Games cleaned up their act and set an example to the rest of the world. It is time that we started to respect humanity more than we respect profit. It is time that Dow Chemical cleaned up Bhopal. And above all this, it is time that the British public stand up and speak out against the overwhelming power and influence that multinational companies have over OUR lives, and the lives of those around us.