It’s now been more than a generation since the chemical disaster in Bhopal, India killed thousands – and a dedicated group of activists in Boston are making sure no one forgets it or the ongoing battle to get those responsible to pay.
On Friday, the disaster's 26th anniversary, over 50 activists protested at Boston University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and Tufts University. At each location, the activists performed a “die-in’ and narrated the story of Bhopal. Some shouted slogans at Dow Chemical, which now owns the site, and collected more than 100 signatures to urge the company to take responsibility for the disaster.
“The Bhopal disaster is so deeply tragic because it demonstrates how governments and corporations differentially value human life. Dow has never provided Bhopalis with any reasonable compensation, despite its unequivocal responsibility and undeniable capacity to mitigate the suffering of the thousands harmed by its subsidiary,” said Lauren Onofrey a student at Harvard and an activist with the Harvard AIDS Coalition.
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. Today, ground water contamination from the disaster pervades the area, activists say.
The Boston Coalition for Justice in Bhopal (BCJB), Tarang from Boston University, Association for India’s Development at MIT (AID-MIT), Harvard AIDS Coalition and AID-Tufts and Colombia Vive, a group involved in environmental injustice in Colombia, took part in the protests.
The remembrance of the day ended with a moment of silence and candle-lit vigil in Harvard Square. Activists from BCJB, Srikant Sarangi and Leonid Chindelevitch rounded off the day by a performance of the song "Alive" that they had written to commemorate the occasion.
PHOTO CAPTION: Courtesy of BCJB
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