Bhopal Gas survivors to hold ‘Bhopal Special Olympics’ on July 26

By Pervez Bari,,

Bhopal: Five NGOs (Non-Government Organizations) working for the welfare of the survivors of the 1984 Union Carbide gas disaster, the world’s worst industrial catastrophe, in Bhopal will jointly organize “Bhopal Special Olympics” on July 26, a day ahead of the London Olympics 2012 to oppose the sponsorship of the Olympic Games by Dow Chemical, the current owner of Union Carbide.

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Addressing a joint press conference here on Tuesday, leaders of the organizations said that this event was being organized to protest against the sponsorship of the London Olympics by Dow Chemical that continues to evade civil, criminal and environmental liabilities of Bhopal inherited from the erstwhile killer pesticide factory of Union Carbide.

Mr. Satinath Sarangi of Bhopal Group for Information & Action said that children born with disabilities due to poisoning by Union Carbide would be taking part in the “Bhopal Special Olympics” to counter Dow Chemical’s attempts to “green-wash” its crimes through the sponsorship of the Olympic Games.

Mr. Sarangi the Bhopal Olympics will be organized in a stadium right behind the abandoned Union Carbide factory that continues to leach cancer and birth defect causing chemicals into the local groundwater. Children affected by the toxic contamination will take part in such sporting events as crab race, 25 metres sprint and assisted walking.

The representatives of five organizations viz. Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Group for Information & Action and Children Against Dow Carbide are jointly organising the “Bhopal Special Olympics”.

Ms Rachna Dhingra also of Bhopal Group for Information & Action said contrary to the opening ceremony of the London Olympics that is expected to highlight all that a British citizen could be proud of, the Bhopal Special Olympics will open with songs and dances focusing on matters that British people could feel ashamed of.

With the theme “From East India Company to The Dow Chemical Company”, the opening ceremony will draw attention to the many famines caused by British rule over India, the mass hanging in the wake of the first battle for Indian independence in 1857, the massacre at Jalianwala Bagh in 1919 and the support extended by the British Prime Minister to the Dow Chemical Company, Ms Dhingra added.

Ms Rashida Bee, leader of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh, said that their year-long attempt to get Dow Chemical dropped as a sponsor came to a nought due to the shameful defence of the company by the organizers of the London Olympics including the British Government. They said that the “Bhopal Special Olympics” underlined the irony of a corporation that had disabled thousands of children in Bhopal, Vietnam, Nicaragua, New Zealand, USA and other countries, sponsoring the Olympic Games.

It may be recalled here that in the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984 Union Carbide pesticide manufacturing factory had spewed poisonous Methyl Iso-cyanate gas whereby 3000 people had perished virtually instantly and over the years about 25000 have kissed death and the sad saga is still continuing uninterruptedly. About half a million are suffering from the side effects of the poisonous gas and several thousand people have been maimed for life. ([email protected])