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Navin Shah GLA Brent & Harrow
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“SAY NO TO DOW” - Campaign Seeking Justice For Bhopal’s Victims

It was a moving experience to be in Bhopal on 2 December and pay tribute, outside the disused 'Union Carbide' Factory, to the victims of Bhopal disaster in 1984. Standing alongside hundreds of people from Bhopal many of whom had suffered one way or the other from the calamitous events 27 years ago on this very day and still continue to suffer gave me just a tiny ounce of idea of the scale and the impact on the masses of people and the environment.

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I stood outside the compound wall of the factory stunned with mixed emotions of sadness, shame and anger. Sadness for the fact that up to 25,000 people were killed from the disaster and approximately 100,000 still suffer from ailments as a result of the disaster. Shame that the tragedy occurred at the factory owned then by Union Carbide which was bought by Dow chemicals in 2001 and anger because Union Carbide/Dow Chemicals to date are refusing to fully admit their liabilities and have treated victims like dirt. Furthermore ashamed also that the ‘London Olympics Organising Committee for Olympic and Paralympics Games’ (LOCOG) chaired by Lord Coe has decided to award a ‘Wrap’ sponsorship contract for the Olympic Stadium to Dow Chemicals - the very company at the centre of ongoing and inhumane conduct leading to ongoing injustice to the victims of Bhopal.

A few weeks ago I joined a campaign in London launched by Barry Gardiner MP, for the immediate withdrawal of the Dow Chemical’s sponsorship by LOCOG followed by launching a petition in the Sattavis Gam Centre in Brent opposing Dow Chemical’s sponsorship. I’m grateful to the Brent Indian Association for leading the support as local organisation and other organisations for their presence at the launch of the petition. The campaign is a cross-party (non-political) initiative with a joint letter to Lord Coe signed by individuals and organisations.

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I urge you to sign our petition or become joint signatory as an organization. Please contact me at navin.shah@london.gov.uk.  

During my private visit to Bhopal on the 27th anniversary of the disaster, I launched a local petition together with a joint letter (for Bhopal/Indian organizations) thus extending the campaign to the very heart of the cause and adding the voice of the very victims and people of Bhopal, India. The visit proved to be an eye opener and gave me the first hand account of the tragedy as well as impressive work being done by the local organisations like Sambhavna Trust and Chingari Trust.

Sambhavna Trust, with donations/contributions from Greenpeace (Nederland) etc. was opened in 2005 and Chingari Trust has operated since 2006. My visit to these two centres demonstrated the great medical and educational support and awareness they provide on a day to day basis to the victims and families.

The highlight of my visit was also participating in the annual procession (demonstration against Dow Chemicals) attended by hundreds of victims/sufferers including second / third generation children with deformities and individuals and organizations. The procession lasted over two hours, passing through the busy areas of Bhopal’s town centre and ended outside the former disused Union Carbide factory reminding people of the tragedy and the continuing injustice dished out by Dow Chemicals. The town during the procession was echoing with the shouts and slogans like: ‘27 years are enough’; ‘Enough is enough’; ‘We’ll fight – We’ll win’ and ‘Give voice to victims’.

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LOCOG’s decision to award sponsorship to Dow Chemicals is inconsistent with their code of sustainability and ethical standards. The victims deserve justice and fairness, it is also important to protect London’s reputation and Olympic legacy. For this I urge Lord Coe to withdraw Dow Chemical’s sponsorship.

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5th December 2011