A tale of two cities

What have Bhopal in 1984, and London 2012 got in common?

Well, poison.

One was the scene of the largest toxic chemical spill of our time, and the other risks being poisoned by association with it.

In December 1984 a highly toxic gas was leaked from a Union Carbide pesticide plant in the town of Bhopal in India. Winds spread the poison through a densely populated area. Many residents died instantly. Others died as they tried to flee and in the end, over 20,000 people died in the aftermath of the leak. Others continue to live with debilitating health problems. Children born decades after the spill are drinking water that flows from the polluted site. Read more here.

So where does London come into it? Well if you tuned into Newsnight last night, (16 mins in) you would have seen an impassioned Kate Allen, our UK Director, standing outside the Olympic Stadium in Stratford conveying her outrage at the fact that Dow are sponsoring a decorative wrap for the stadium, reportedly to the tune of £7 million.  

This association, effectively an Olympic endorsement of a company criticised for shirking its responsibilities, prompted Olympics ethics commissioner Meredith Alexander, to resign last night. A resignation made live in front of Jeremy Paxman and a few hundred thousand others.

Today, she has been speaking to media about her reasoning. It is important that Bhopal and the forgotten victims are in the spotlight. It is sad, that it takes an ill-conceived sponsorship deal and a resignation to achieve that. The hope however, must now be that we are in with a sporting chance of pushing Dow towards sitting down at a table with the victims and groups that represent them.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
View latest posts