Last week vigils were held across Boston to commemorate 28th Anniversary of the Bhopal Gas Disaster.
Members of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB), Boston chapter, organized a series of die-ins and protests across major universities in the city including Boston University, Tufts University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University to commemorate the 28th anniversary of the Bhopal Gas disaster of 1984.
On the 2nd of December 1984, over 40 tonnes of Methyl Isocyanate gas (MIC) leaked from a plant, owned by the multinational corporation Union Carbide, in Bhopal in central India. The gas leak killed over 10,000 people in the 3 days following the disaster. The survivors exposed to the gas on that day continue to be plagued with health problems like respiratory issues, cancers and congenital malformations in their children. The factory site has not been cleaned up which has resulted in contamination of the ground water, the only source of drinking water for several communities close to the area. The victims of the disaster are yet to receive just compensation from Union Carbide or the current owner, Dow Chemical Corporation. For the survivors, the Bhopal disaster did not end that night, but has been a continuing nightmare for the last 28 years.
The die-ins in the Boston-area started at 12 noon at Boston University, moved next to the Boston Common, followed by stops at MIT and Tufts University. The events of the day culminated in a candle-light vigil and a die-in at Harvard Square. Flyers and fact sheets were handed out to passers-by, telling them about the history of the disaster and the issue as it stands today. Also on display at the vigil were photographs of victims and the factory site by famous photographer Raghu Rai.
The participants at the vigil reinforced the necessity to bring Dow Chemicals to justice and the need to have global standards for corporate accountability so that what happened in Bhopal does not repeat itself. Leonid Chindelevitch, a member of ICJB, said: “This disaster was not caused by accident; it was caused by gross negligence on part of the factory owner, Union Carbide.” Randy Fenstermacher, a local activist, said that he was from New Jersey and growing up had worked summer jobs in Union Carbide. “Both Union Carbide and Dow Chemicals are American companies, presumably responsible to American laws. Yet, my country allowed this to happen. And it refuses to make it impossible for such a thing to happen again.”