Meredith Alexander becomes Bhopal’s latest heroine

Meredith Alexander becomes Bhopal’s latest heroine

Meredith Alexander, former Sustainability Commissioner and Ethics Adviser to Lord Coe and Mayor Boris Johnson, has acquired overnight celebrity status in Bhopal, India. Her resignation live on British television has resulted in an outpouring of hope, gratitude and optimism over the ongoing controversy of Dow Chemical’s sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympics.

Meredith Alexander quit the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 live on the BBC’s Newsnight this Wednesday, saying she did not want to be part of a body that “became an apologist” for Dow Chemicals. She also stated that her resignation was based on her “standing up for her principles” and that she hoped it could bring some attention to the continuing plight of victims in Bhopal.

In India, campaigners and survivors of the Bhopal disaster clearly approve and have thanked Meredith by placing flower bouquets in front of a portrait of her, an act often reserved for goddesses, heroines and saints. Rashida Bee, campaigner and co-founder of the Chingari Trust, said that “by speaking the truth so boldly Meredith has nailed Dow Chemical’s lies and we hope this will make LOCOG dump Dow as a sponsor of the London Games.”

Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action expressed hope that Ms. Alexander’s resignation will prompt the Indian government to strengthen its position on Dow Chemical’s sponsorship of London 2012. “To be taken seriously by the London Olympic Committee, the Indian Government has to do more than send a protest note. It is time for LOCOG to be told that India will not take part in the London Olympics if it continues to be sponsored by a corporation responsible for continued death and suffering in Bhopal.”

Rashida Bee, Bhopal campaigner and c0-founder of the Chingari Trust lays flower bouquets before a portrait of Meredith Alexander as a sign of respect and solidarity

Meredith’s resignation has seen widespread support from environmentalists, human rights campaigners and politicians who are opposed to Dow’s Olympic involvement. Barry Gardiner, Labour MP and chairman of the Labour Friends of India Organisation, has actively campaigned with supporters of Bhopal to have Dow dropped as an Olympic sponsor. On the subject of Ms Alexander’s resignation he said that “Meredith has had the courage to stand up and say what everybody should have known all along; that Dow Chemicals were not a suitable partner for a Games that has prided itself on being the most sustainable ever.”

Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK, has also supported Ms. Alexander’s resignation stating that; “Meredith Alexander has made a brave and principled stand. She obviously shares our outrage at this association and it is a shame that her concerns, like ours, have fallen on deaf ears.”

The Bhopal Medical Appeal has also supported attempts to have Lord Coe and LOCOG reconsider or justify Dow as a sponsor for London 2012. So far,  Olympic officials have largely failed to engage with the concerns of Bhopal survivors and campaigners.  The BMA said the following regarding Ms. Alexander and the ongoing ‘Dow Row’.

“Dow have been consistently misrepresenting the facts concerning their Bhopal liabilities, both to the media and to UK politicians. It’s an enormous credit to Ms. Alexander that she should be the first of any Olympic official to take a principled stand. We hope her actions will inspire others to now stand up for the truth. We cannot understand how a company with Dow’s track record can be seen as a suitably sustainable partner for the London Olympics.  Let’s not forget that, besides the Bhopal Disaster, Dow have connections to Napalm, Agent Orange and even the current silicone breast implant scandal. It’s time to stand up and be counted.”


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