action/support/appeal   extensive summary   print   back


Clouds of injustice
Bhopal disaster 20 years on


There were thousands of bodies. There were bodies everywhere. And people were dying all round

Mohammad Owais, a volunteer at Hamidia Hospital, Bhopal, India
More than 7,000 people died within a matter of days when toxic gases leaked from a chemical plant in Bhopal, India on the night of 2/3 December 1984. Over the last 20 years exposure to the toxins has resulted in the deaths of a further 15,000 people as well as chronic and debilitating illnesses for thousands of others for which treatment is largely ineffective.

The disaster shocked the world and raised fundamental questions about government and corporate responsibility for industrial accidents that devastate human life and local environments. Yet 20 years later, the survivors still await just compensation, adequate medical assistance and treatment, and comprehensive economic and social rehabilitation. The plant site, has still not been cleaned up. As a result, toxic wastes continue to pollute the environment and contaminate water that surrounding communities rely on.
We have to travel at least two kilometres to get clean water... My health is so bad that it prevents me from carrying the water I need from there. round

Hasina Bi of Atal Ayub Nagar, a neighbourhood in Bhopal near the plant, has been drinking the water from the hand-pump near her house for 18 years.

Despite determined efforts by survivors to secure justice, they have been denied adequate compensation and appropriate and timely medical assistance and rehabilitation. Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), then owner of the pesticide factory in Bhopal, and Dow Chemicals, which merged with UCC in 2001, have publicly denied all responsibility for the leak and the resulting damage. Astonishingly, no one has been held responsible.

The Bhopal case illustrates how companies evade their human rights responsibilities and underlines the need to establish a universal human rights framework that can be applied to companies directly. Governments have the primary responsibility for protecting the human rights of communities endangered by the activities of corporations, such as those employing hazardous technology. However, as the influence and reach of companies have grown, there has been a developing consensus that they must be brought within the framework of international human rights standards.

In its report, Clouds of injustice: Bhopal disaster 20 years on, Amnesty International is:

  • urging people around the world to put pressure on Dow and the Indian Government demanding that the site is cleaned up and affected communities are compensated.

  • calling on the Indian Government to promptly assess the damage to health and the environment caused by the leak and the contamination

  • recommending the implementation of a global human rights framework for business, based on the UN Norms for Business. To hold companies accountable and guarantee redress for the victims it is imperative that such standards are implemented and mechanism to enforce them are put in place.
Take action - Dow Chemical must take responsibility for clean-up.

Further Information:

Read the report Clouds Of Injustice: Bhopal 20 years on (ASA 20/015/2004)

Watch the video, "Twenty Years without Justice: The Bhopal Chemical Disaster" by Sanford Lewis.
This video was produced for the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Amnesty International.

Download the Clean UP Postcard ASA 20/101/2004
AI UK Greeting Cards Campaign - Bhopal activists

The Wire magazine

External websites:
The information contained on these sites is not controlled by Amnesty International. Links to these sites do not in any way imply Amnesty International supports either the organizations listed, or views presented.
BBC website on Bhopal
International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal

A complete version of the Amnesty International report on Bhopal "Clouds of Injustice: Bhopal Disaster- 20 years on", ASA 20/015/2004, is available at .

People from Bhopal need your support.
Take action and demand that Dow cleans up the Bhopal factory site!


Landelijke India Werkgroep - 30 november 2004