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Bhopal Victims Hold Protest Olympics to Shame Dow Chemical

Bhopal Special Olympics held to counter Dow's greenwashing attempts at London games, say organizers

- Common Dreams staff

Indian spectators watch as disabled children suffering the effects of the 1984 Bhopal disaster take part in a "Special Olympics" in Bhopal on July 26, 2012 (AFP/Prakash Singh)

"This is what Dow has done. There is no better way to show their crimes," said Rachna Dhingra, a spokesperson for five survivors' groups behind the "Bhopal Special Olympics."

The Bhopal Special Olympics were held Thursday to protest and shame Dow Chemical, one of the corporate-sponsors of the London 2012 Olympics which get underway Friday.

"Dow Chemical as a sponsor violates the very spirit of the Olympics."They are being held in a stadium behind the abandoned Union Carbide pesticide factory in Bhopal, India, the site of the world's worst industrial accident. In 1984, deadly methyl isocyanate gas poured from the Union Carbide plant -- poisoning the nearby air and claiming thousands of lives instantly, thousands more as time went on, and a generation of children born with severe birth defects. Union Carbide was later taken over by Dow Chemical. Survivors say the company owes them compensation and must clean up the toxic waste still lingering nearly 30 years later.

Five survivor organizations organized the counter Olympics to oppose Dow Chemical’s attempts to “greenwash its crimes through the sponsorship of the Olympic Games,” representatives of the five organizations said.

"We are doing this mostly due to Dow's attempt to greenwash its crimes," Dhingra told Agence-France Presse.

"We all find it ironic that a corporation that has disabled people in Bhopal is sponsoring the Olympic Games," added Dhingra.

Satinath Sarangi, a protest organizer, said, "Dow Chemical as a sponsor violates the very spirit of the Olympics."

In contrast to the opening ceremony at the London Olympics, The Hindu reports that at the Bhopal Special Olympics "The opening ceremony will draw attention to the many famines caused during the British rule in India, the mass hangings following the 'first battle for Indian independence in 1857,' the massacre at Jalianwala Bagh in 1919 and last but not the least, to the support extended by the British Prime Minister to the Dow Chemical Company."

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Protesters highlighting Dow Chemical's attempts at greenwashing may find an easy target in Dow's Olympic mascot, "Hopeiary," a walking hedge-like figure. The company explains: "Explore London with Hopeiary, the planet's Olympic representative. Because even the planet has an Olympic Dream—a greener, more sustainable Olympic Games."

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An Indian boy suffering with birth defects competes in a "crab-walk" race during a "Special Olympics" held by the survivors of the deadly 1984 Bhopal gas leak in an effort to shame Olympic sponsor Dow Chemical Co. on the eve of the London Games in Bhopal, India, Thursday, July 26, 2012. (AP/Altaf Qadri)

An Indian mother of a disabled child suffering the effects of the 1984 Bhopal disaster, cries during a "Special Olympics" in Bhopal on July 26, 2012 (AFP/Prakash Singh)

Indian children suffering with birth defects compete in a wheel chair race during a "Special Olympics" held by the survivors of the deadly 1984 Bhopal gas leak in an effort to shame Olympic sponsor Dow Chemical Co. on the eve of the London Games in Bhopal, India, Thursday, July 26, 2012. (AP/Altaf Qadri)

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