The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) is under increasing pressure to drop Dow Chemical as a sponsor as campaigners delivered over 60,000 signatures in protest.
Last week petitioners re-created a protest by Bhopali campaigners that was held outside India’s sports ministry in New Delhi on 27 February by posing dead in front of the International Olympic Committee's press conference. The petition to drop Dow as Olympic sponsors was started on Change.org by British nurse Lorraine Close, who spent 6 months living in Bhopal and volunteering at the Sambhavna clinic.
Lorraine said, “Living amongst the people in Bhopal taught me that the power of the human voice can be heard. I watched them rally, fight, and refuse to accept what they have been dealt by those who hold power. I hope the London Organising Committee will hear the calls of people from around the world and drop this sponsorship.”
The focus of the campaign is the Union Carbide pesticide factory in the city of Bhopal in central India, which was the site of the world's largest industrial disaster in 1984 when an accident released poisonous gas into the city. Estimates of casualties who died immediately range from 3,849 to 8,000, and the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal estimates that in the years since then the total death toll increased to 20-30,000 due to gas-related illnesses, and over 120,000 people now live with chronic health problems. Union Carbide is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Dow.
Lucie Kinchin, who has also volunteered in Bhopal, said, "Dow is trying to whitewash its reputation and deny its responsibilities to the people of Bhopal. The toxic waste dumped at the site of the disaster has contaminated the drinking water for thousands of people. It is now Dow's responsibility to clear up the site, decontaminate the water, and adequately compensate the survivors. Instead, they are ignoring the ongoing tragedy in Bhopal and sponsoring the Olympics. LOCOG and the IOC have dismissed the outcry from India, and so we are here to bring the outrage of over 60,000 people right to their door."
Increasing numbers of protest movements emerging around the 2012 London Olympics include groups motivated by a range of concerns, including Dow and other sponsors, the impact of the Olympic site on local residents and the UK government preaching austerity on one hand while on the other spending many, many times more than they budgeted on the Games.
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