London 2012 Organizers Must Admit Dow Mistake After Ethics Chief Quits, says Amnesty International

Press Release
January 26, 2012

London 2012 Organizers Must Admit Dow Mistake After Ethics Chief Quits, says Amnesty International

Contact: Sharon Singh, ssingh@aiusa.org, 202-675-8579

(Washington, D.C.) -- London 2012 Olympic organizers must admit their mistake in awarding a lucrative contract to the Dow Chemical Company, Amnesty International said today after the Games' ethics commissioner quit over human rights concerns about the company.

Meredith Alexander, appointed by London's Mayor Boris Johnson to monitor the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), resigned in protest at the sponsorship deal with Dow due to its connection to the Bhopal disaster.

Dow owns U.S.-based Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), the company that held a majority share in the Indian subsidiary that owned and operated the UCC plant responsible for the 1984 gas leak disaster, which killed thousands of people.   

Dow is due to provide a plastic wrap that will encircle the London 2012 Olympic Stadium during the Games.

"This high profile resignation means the London 2012 organizers can no longer ignore human rights concerns about Dow, a company that has refused to meet its responsibilities in relation to the victims of Bhopal," said Seema Joshi of Amnesty International. "Lord Sebastian Coe must publicly state that human rights concerns were never considered when awarding a contract to Dow and that LOCOG made a mistake."

Meredith Alexander was appointed by the London mayor Boris Johnson to serve on the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 (CSL) -- the ethics body that monitors the processes of all the bodies responsible for delivering the 2012 Games.

In recent weeks, CSL publicly defended LOCOG's decision to appoint Dow to sponsor the half-mile wrap. That decision, and the Olympic bodies' subsequent defense of Dow, enraged Alexander and human rights groups including Amnesty International.

"I don't want to be party to a defense of Dow Chemicals, the company responsible for one of the worst corporate human rights violations in my generation," said Meredith Alexander. "It is appalling that 27 years on, the site has still not been cleaned up and thousands upon thousands of people are still suffering. I believe people should be free to enjoy London 2012 without this toxic legacy on their conscience."
Corporate interest, legal complexity and government failures and neglect have proved huge obstacles to justice for the people of Bhopal.

Bhopal's massive gas leak in December 1984 killed between 7,000 and 10,000 people in its immediate aftermath, and a further 15,000 over the next 20 years. More than 100,000 continue to suffer from serious health problems as a result of the leak, while toxic waste at the plant site is yet to be fully cleaned.

UCC continues to defy Indian jurisdiction, failing to abide by repeated summons to appear before a Bhopal court.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom and dignity are denied.

For more information, please visit www.amnestyusa.org

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