Yesterday, Wednesday 11th July 2012, a motion was passed by the London Assembly which condemned Dow Chemical and its’ role in the aftermath of the Bhopal Disaster. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the London Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) were further condemned for allowing a company notorious for it’s unethical past to enter into ten year sponsorship deal with the Olympic Games.
The motion, proposed by Navin Shah, Labour Assembly Member (AM) for Brent and Harrow, was passed with strong majority, 16 for 7 against. All of the opposing votes were made by Conservative Party members, led by Andrew Boff (Conservative AM) who suggested that Dow were blameless, and that there was no evidence to support their alleged responsibility. Navin’s motion however was passed and supported by Greens, Liberal Democrats and Labour.
In response to Andrew Boff stating there was no evidence in terms of Dow’s culpability, Navin suggested he should make the effort to seek out the research and evidence, especially that which has been gathered by organizations such as The Bhopal Medical Appeal and Amnesty International.
In his speech to the assembly Navin Shah mentioned the IOC & LOCOGs guidelines and values and commitment to ethical sponsors; “Dow are the prime example of an unethical sponsor, their subsidiary is wanted on criminal charges of culpable homicide and the IOC are looking increasingly like a faceless and shameless corporation.” He continued; “it’s not too late, IOC must reconsider their future relationships with Dow and put in place stricter guidelines for procurement of sponsors.”
Liberal Democrat representatives stated that the “Olympics should symbolize the pinnacle of human endeavor and should not be tarnished by companies like Dow – the IOC must protect their brand from an ethical, as well as a corporate point of view.”
Darren Johnson vice chairman of assembly (Green AM) asserted that “Dow have moral culpability for this and their partnership with the IOC must be urgently reviewed. They’re responsible for other contaminations too and it’s important to mention that UCC (Union Carbide Corporation, the perpetrators of the 1984 Bhopal Disaster) cannot absolve responsibility by merging with DOW – otherwise no company would ever be held responsible for such disasters.”
Meredith Alexander, erstwhile sustainability commissioner advising LOCOG said:
“The London Assembly’s vote to condemn Dow’s involvement in the Games is just the latest indication that Londoners don’t want this toxic company stealing our Olympic glory. From London to Londonderry, the people of the UK are rejecting Dow’s unethical sponsorship. Dow is the company now responsible for the Bhopal tragedy that killed over 20,000 people. It has no place at what we all hope will be the most sustainable Olympics.”
Colin Toogood, The Bhopal Medical Appeal said: “This completely vindicates all that we have been saying since the London Games sponsorship issue was announced. Perhaps, if the London elections had been a year earlier, we would have seen Dow kicked out of London and prevented any harm being done to the reputation of the London Games. Equally, if LOCOG had bothered to listen to us, or if Lord Coe had ever arranged to meet, us we would have been able to explain the facts to them and help ensure that the Games could stand up to the sustainability claims that have been made. Clearly, with respect to Dow Chemical as a sponsor, the London Games have failed badly.”
Akash (14) from Kids For a Better Future group inNew Yorkis currently visitingLondonand went to the London Assembly to meet Navin Shah. Navin mentioned Akash in his speech and will be interviewing him for his Asian Voice slot! Akash and Kids For a Better Future raised money for the Bhopal Medical Appeal in 2009 and launched the ‘Have A Heart’ door stepping campaign on Dow’s headquarters.
You can read more on the motion in the Telegraph online here