THE BLOG
23/07/2012 10:59 BST | Updated 22/09/2012 06:12 BST

Don't Poison our Olympics

A controversial exhibit in East London, close to the Olympic Park, is calling attention to the Olympics link to Dow Chemical and one of the world's worst industrial disasters.

A controversial exhibit in East London, close to the Olympic Park, is calling attention to the Olympics link to Dow Chemical and one of the world's worst industrial disasters.

In 1984, between 7,000 and 10,000 people were killed immediately by a toxic gas leak from a Union Carbide pesticide factory in Bhopal in central India. Over the next 20 years, a further 15,000 people died and the site is still contaminated, affecting over 100,000 people.

Today Dow Chemical, a sponsor of this year's Olympic Games, owns Union Carbide, but denies responsibility for the Bhopal liabilities and has never addressed the on-going human rights impact of the catastrophe. Dow's views are that legal claims regarding the gas leak were resolved when Union Carbide paid compensation for those killed or injured.

To bring the issues of corporate responsibility and ethical sponsorship to wider attention, a multi-sensory art installation by acclaimed Indian artist Samar Jodha has just opened at Amnesty International's headquarters in Shoreditch. It runs until the end of the month.

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 defense of Dow Chemical and to apologize to Bhopal's survivors. For more information and take action, click here.