from Hesamag, July 2015
On a hot and hectic street in the Indian city of Bhopal, the flames licked up the two giant corporate logos. The blue of Union Carbide and the red of Dow Chemical Company, with added skulls, were incinerated to nothingness within seconds.
Just a few metres away, across a high security wall, was the cause of the angry effigy-burning: the derelict and overgrown pesticide factory that leaked toxic gas 30 years ago and has killed more than 25,000 people.
The disaster at Union Carbide’s chemical works in Bhopal, in the crowded, poverty-stricken heart of India, on the 3 December 1984 was one of the world’s worst industrial accidents. It has since become one of the world’s grossest examples of environmental injustice.
Union Carbide and the US chemical giant that took it over in 2001, Dow, are fugitives from justice. Over the decades, they have repeatedly refused to appear before Indian courts to answer criminal charges against them. They have never apologised.
It is no wonder that they were targets for the fierce and passionate mass protests that took place in Bhopal on the 30th anniversary of the disaster in December 2014. “These days a corporation’s image is everything so we wanted to hit them where it hurt most,” said leading Bhopal campaigner, Sathyu Sarangi.