Bhopal's Fight for Memory


Bhopal's Fight for Memory

Abraham, Sara; Jayaraman, Nityanand

Publisher:  Against the Current
Date Written:  01/03/2015
Year Published:  2015  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX20920

On the night of December 2, 1984, unknown poisonous gases burst out from a Union Carbide pesticide plant located in the city of Bhopal in central India. Sara Abraham, advisory editor of Against the Current, spoke in December 2014 to Nityanand Jayaraman, an environmental activist from Chennai, and member of the Bhopal Memorial Trust, who travelled to Bhopal for the 30th anniversary meetings and protests.



Against the Current: What is the ongoing importance of the struggle for justice in Bhopal?

Nityanand Jayaraman: The struggle in Bhopal, firstly, underscores the importance of memory as a weapon or tool to get justice and to hold corporations and the government accountable.

The one thing that the government wants is for Bhopal to be forgotten, and the one thing that the Bhopalis know is that they need to fight for memory of Bhopal. It is that classic fight of memory against forgetfulness, as stated by Milan Kundera.

The fight is to keep the memory alive, not only through holding the anniversary but by having significant victories and defeats and ongoing struggles as the subject of each anniversary. It is a stock-taking effort, and also an invitation for people to come to Bhopal to witness the rehabilitation work and the struggle, to see the strengths and the fatigue, and to see firsthand the extent of damage that has been caused by one corporation's pursuit of profit.

There have been struggles against corporations in India and abroad — powerful pitched battles against employers. In those cases, there was no attempt to extinguish the life of the corporation or to damage its business.