What started off as a quiet Monday morning for the Bhopal Medical Appeal soon became the day when Wikileaks revealed to the world the activities of Stratfor, a US private intelligence company commissioned by Dow Chemical to monitor actions of activists campaigning for victims of the Bhopal gas disaster.
The Bhopal Medical Appeal (BMA) was amongst other groups including the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB) who were targeted in emails revealing covert monitoring by Stratfor from July 2004 until December 2011.
The documents which were obtained by the Anonymous hacker group included other targets such as ‘the Yes Men,’ who worked with Bhopal activists in a public stunt to highlight the lack of response to remediate the disaster site and provide compensation to the victims.
Around 60 journalists gathered at London’s Frontline Club for the conference where three activists from the BMA shared their insights.
Farah Edwards, who was ten years old at the time of the gas disaster, spoke from a survivors point of view, recalling the horrors she saw on the night of the disaster as she asks “What now Dow, what now?.”
Indra Sinha and Colin Toogood, both of the BMA, highlighted the current situation in Bhopal, stressing the need for justice, environmental and social rehabilitation for the people of Bhopal who continue to suffer.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange accused Stratfor of being a corporate version of the Central Intelligence Agency that has shadowed the activities of international activist groups on behalf of clients like The Dow Chemical Company and The Coca Cola Company as well as US government agencies.
WikiLeaks says it has published only a small portion of the 5 million Stratfor emails it has in its possession. 51 of the files were from 2011 alone.
Brent-North MP Barry Gardiner who has consistently supported the BMA in their campaign to remove Dow as an Olympic Sponsor commented “I don’t know how much Dow Chemical paid these companies, but if it wished to hire me instead, I’ll give much fuller information at half the cost and put all the money into Bhopal victims’ funds.”
When hacker group Anonymous were asked whether it is worth risking arrest over the revelation of the documents, they replied: “There is a moral obligation for those who see injustices being committed by individuals who are purely driven by greed. The people of Bhopal had no chance against the sheer amount of money that was to be spent on silencing those who suffered from having justice that was due, or even a voice. Today their voices have been heard across the world and the perpetrators exposed. This is worth risking everything for.”
In light of the public outcry at Dow’s sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympics, activists are wondering if these revelations will be enough for the International Olympic Committee to take their concerns seriously and realise the unsuitability of the sponsorship deal.
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