A group of activists in Harvard Square yesterday protested the recent verdict against seven officials of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy in India that killed thousands and is often highlighted by survivors as a symbol for government and corporate inaction.
The verdict, a quarter-century after the Union Carbide catastrophe, drew heavy criticism by survivors and others, and highlighted the lack of a clean up of the toxic site, which is now owned by Dow Chemical. Yet Dow Chemical earlier this week told the AFP news agency attempts to tie it to the world’s worst chemical disaster was “misdirected” after media reports said the Indian government would try to be compensated for the clean-up from the company.
The protest, organized by Boston Coalition for Justice in Bhopal, was one of several in U.S. cities including New York, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco. Several organizations and student groups, including MIT’s Amnesty International, Association for India’s Development and Alliance for Secular and Democratic South Asia joined in the protest.
The group handed out pamphlets, shouted slogans, gathered signatures on petitions and displayed pictures of maimed victims.
In December, 1984, Tons of toxic methyl isocyanate gas leaked from the plant when water entered a tank and caused a deadly chemical reaction. The state government at the time reported that about 3,800 people were killed immediately and thousands more affected. Other estimates say tens of thousands died, and thousands more suffered long-term effects. Activists say 23,000 people died and some 500,000 more were injured.
“The Indian government is sacrificing its poor people to pander to the interests of multinational corporations. The Bhopal survivors have been fighting their case with dignity: they walked 800 kilometers twice from Bhopal to Delhi to ask for a patient hearing,” said Leonid Chindelevitch of the Boston Coalition for Justice in Bhopal.
Photo by Boston Coalition for Justice in Bhopal
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