Martin Sheen calls for justice for Bhopal as his new Hollywood film portrays the disaster

“Bhopal is not just a human rights tragedy from the last century. It’s a human rights travesty today.” – Martin Sheen who plays Warren Anderson in the film

Film star Martin Sheen has today added his voice to calls for justice for the victims of the Bhopal gas disaster in India, one of the world’s worst industrial disasters, as the 30th anniversary approaches.

Martin Sheen made the call as he stars in a new Hollywood film about Bhopal, which is released today. Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain is a compelling account of the events that led to more than half a million people being poisoned by toxic gas leaking from Union Carbide’s pesticide plant in Bhopal on 2 December 1984. Sheen plays Warren Anderson, the former Chief Executive of the Union Carbide Corporation which ran the chemical plant. Anderson, who died last week, remained unapologetic over his company’s responsibility for the disaster.

Mischa Barton and Kal Penn also appear in the film as journalists trying to expose the truth about the dangers posed to the local population in Bhopal.

In an interview recorded exclusively for Amnesty to coincide with the launch of the film, Martin Sheen said:

“Bhopal is not just a human rights tragedy from the last century. It’s a human rights travesty today.

“Those who survived have faced long-term health problems, but receive little medical help. For 30 years the survivors of Bhopal have campaigned for justice, for fair compensation, health care and for Union Carbide, now owned by Dow Chemicals, to be held to account.

“This was not an unavoidable accident. There is evidence that the companies responsible for the factory site failed to take adequate precautions both before and after the leak.”

Union Carbide has spent three decades dodging criminal charges in India, while its successor company Dow Chemicals has repeatedly tried to distance itself from the disaster and ongoing chemical contamination at the abandoned factory site, despite having assumed full control of Union Carbide in 2001.

Pressure on Dow is growing as the 30th anniversary of the gas leak approaches, with the company facing a 12 November court hearing in India over Union Carbide’s refusal to answer charges of culpable homicide in a Bhopal court.

Kate Allen UK Director of Amnesty International said:

“Three decades on from the Bhopal disaster, the lives of people living around the plant continue to be poisoned.

“It’s welcome news that Martin Sheen has added his voice to the global chorus calling for justice for the people of Bhopal. Generation after generation has been fobbed off and disregarded.

“They deserve justice and Dow, as the successor to Union Carbide, should take responsibility for the huge suffering inflicted on thousands of people.”
 

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