LONDON – Activists calling for Dow Chemical to be dropped as a sponsor of the London 2012 Games due to the Bhopal disaster unfurled a giant protest banner in front of the Olympic Stadium on Friday.
Among them was Sanjay Verma, who was born in the central Indian city of Bhopal five months before the deadly 1984 gas leak, and who is hoping to meet with Olympic officials in London to discuss the Dow deal.
“The Olympics is all about ethics and this is something unethical that Dow Chemical is sponsoring London Olympics because they are responsible for thousands of deaths in Bhopal,” he told AFP.
Dow bought Union Carbide, the company which owned the pesticide plant where the deadly gas leak occurred, 17 years after the disaster and insists all its liabilities were settled in a 1989 compensation deal with victims.
The banner unfurled Friday showed emotive pictures of victims of Bhopal alongside those of victims of napalm and white phosphorous.
“People who died that night were lucky because they did not live to survive,” said Verma, who lost his parents and five siblings in the disaster.
“They did not live to struggle because the people who survived they are dying every day — they are like living dead bodies.”
The International Olympic Committee has previously stated there is no prospect of Dow being axed from the London Games despite calls for a boycott.
But London’s Olympic chiefs said last month they would meet with activists to discuss the issue, and they have also said Dow’s name would not appear on the fabric wrap it is sponsoring which will go around the main stadium.