In 1984, between 7,000 and 10,000 people were killed immediately by a toxic gas leak from a pesticide factory in Bhopal. Over the next 20 years a further 15,000 people died and the site is still contaminated, affecting the human rights of over 100,000 people.
Today Dow Chemical, a sponsor of this year’s Olympic Games, owns the company responsible for the leak. However, it has never addressed the on-going human rights impact of the catastrophe. Find out more here.
A unique exhibition is opening today, 19 July, at Amnesty International’s UK offices in Shoreditch, East London, to highlight the Olympics link to Dow Chemical, a sponsor of this year’s games. The multi-sensory art installation on Bhopal by acclaimed Indian artist Samar Jodha is open until the end of July.
Samar Jodha’s temperature-controlled metal container recreates the wintry night of the 2 December 1984 in Bhopal, with 3D images, blow-torched mannequins and a soundscape. The soundscape starts silently, and there are notably no alarms or sirens throughout, as on the night, just the noise of crickets and the hum of the factory. The sound of gas escaping from the factory can be heard as the viewer moves through the container and towards the end of the journey, the sound of the first Bhopal victim struggling to breath.
Born in Jodhpur, India, Jodha has relatives in Bhopal including an uncle who worked at the chemical plant and another who was a doctor. Jodha believes the installation will help prevent "the constant struggle of memory against forgetting."
Renowned London street artist Pure Evil, has also painted a sign on the Amnesty building, which reads: ‘Don’t Poison our Olympics; Tell Lord Coe to stop defending Dow.’
Amnesty is asking the public to contact Lord Coe, the head of the committee organising the London Olympic Games, (LOCOG) to ask him to retract his committee’s defence of Dow Chemical and to apologise to Bhopal's survivors. Apparently, Seb Coe has responded by blocking the email service the organization uses, but you can still email Lord Coe directly from your own email address. Click here for more information.