On 21 November 2014, Navin Shah AM hosted an event in City Hall to mark the 30th Anniversary of the Bhopal Chemical Disaster, supported by the Bhopal Medical Appeal, Asian Voice newspaper and Amnesty International. Representatives from community groups, businesses and charities came together to reflect on the disaster, the injustice of Dow Chemicals walking away from their moral and legal responsibilities, but especially the scale of the human impact then and now. The event combined music and dance, delicious cuisine, speeches from campaigners, video footage, and a fundraiser auction.
I was particularly moved by the video of children from the Changari Rehabilitation Centre introducing themselves, several of whom crawled to the camera, full of smiles before saying who they were. This was their thank you to the Bhopal Medical Appeal, making an invaluable and necessary contribution to the lives of second or third generations still affected by intoxication during pregnancy or from water. (see facebook)
Navin Shah is to be commended for organising such a successful programme and to help to remind us what work still needs to be done. He spoke of ”solidarity and conscience”.
We heard from Bhopal survivor Farah Edwards Khan, ten years old at the time. Her statements were telling and moving: “On the hill were lying people. Either they were dead or they were in great pain.” Speaking of the victims years later, “They didn’t want sympathy. They wanted human dignity.”
Amnesty director [ed. name check] spoke about Bhopal as an “institutional failure”, especially of Dow not being brought to justice. He compared the $20bn compensation awarded to the victims of the BP Gulf of Mexico disaster, and rightly so, to the fraction of that given to Bhopal victims. He called for an immediate clean-up of the site, and compensation, rehabilitation and proper remedy for the survivors. He warned that if those responsible for human rights violations were not held to account, then it was more likely to happen again.