41 Climate Justice Organizations Urge Bangladesh High Commission to Take Action on Coal, Honour the Dead on 15th Phulbari Day

Aug 27, 2021 | News

Key points:

  • Activists from XR Youth Solidarity, Fossil Free London, London Mining Network, Phulbari Solidarity Group etc. gathered at Bangladesh High Commission at 10:30, 26 August.
  • The rally marked the 15th anniversary of the Phulbari Massacre, where three young people were killed and hundreds injured protesting British financed coal mine.
  • XR Youth Solidarity held a placard making session, inspired by speeches on Phulbari and the climate crisis.
  • Campaigners delivered memo demanding end to coal mine construction and coal fire power plants in Bangladesh to the office of the High Commissioner.

XR Youth Solidarity activists make placards outside the Bangladesh High Commission (London Mining Network)

On Thursday 26 August, transnational and Bangladeshi climate justice activists gathered outside the Bangladesh High Commission in London to pay tribute to the victims of the Phulbari Massacre in 2006. Anti-mining activists held a Remembrance rally to mark the 15th anniversary of the Phulbari Massacre, and called on the High Commissioner to push for the delisting of GCM Resources from the London Stock Exchange and the banning of new coal projects in Bangladesh.

The rally in London was organised by the Phulbari Solidarity Group and London Mining Network, with support from Foil VedantaFossil Free LondonBibortanExtinction Rebellion Internationalist Solidarity NetworkGlobal Justice BlocExtinction Rebellion Youth SolidarityCoal Action NetworkChristian Climate Action and Women of Colour in the Global Women’s Strike.

The gathered activists laid sunflowers and held banners outside the High Commission, accompanied by mournful cello music. Short speeches were given by Rumana Hashem, coordinator of the Phulbari Solidarity Group and eyewitness to the 2006 massacre, Richard Solly, network coordinator of London Mining Network, and Sara Cordovez of Extinction Rebellion Youth Solidarity. A three minute silence was held in memory of Al Amin, Mohammad Saleqin and Tarikul Islam. These three, aged 11,13 and 18 respectively, were killed on 26 August 2006 when a paramilitary force opened fire during a nonviolent demonstration of an estimated 80,000 people against the eviction of 130,000 people in Phulbari to make way for a 572-million ton open cast coal mine. More than 200 other demonstrators were injured.

A banner in memory of Al Amin, Salekin and Tariqul, who were killed in 2006

Activists from Extinction Rebellion Youth Solidarity held a placard making session outside the High Commission building, stressing the link between young activists and climate justice struggles. A small delegation of activists requested to meet with Saida Muna Tasneem, the High Commissioner for Bangladesh, in order to deliver a memorandum supported by 41 climate justice organizations. This memorandum requests the High Commissioner put pressure on the London Stock Exchange to de-list GCM Resources and stress the importance of implementing the Phulbari Verdict, which would ban new coal projects in Bangladesh, to the Bangladeshi Prime Minister.

While activists were disappointed that the High Commissioner did not have time to meet with them, a deputy did come to the steps of the office to accept the letter on her behalf. Representatives of the organizing groups arranged to plan a meeting with the High Commissioner at a later date.

A deputy of the High Commissioner accepts the memorandum

Rumana Hashem, the co-ordinator of Phulbari Solidarity Group and an eye-witness to Phulbari shooting, said:

Bangladesh High Commission is fully aware that the London Stock Exchange is hosting a company that is responsible for gross human rights violations and that does not have a valid license for business in Bangladesh. But they are not taking action to prevent this crime. I have witnessed GCM’s violence in Phulbari. 15 years on, the company continues to grab money by selling deceitful shares on Phulbari’s name. The company does not hold any valid asset to operate in Phulbari and does not have permission for mining anywhere in the world. Bangladesh’s state minister stated that the government will take legal action against GCM. That was in 2019. Its’ been two years since. We have written to LSE’s Chief Financial Officer and Chief Executive Officers twice, and submitted evidence showing that GCM is involved in fraudulent business at LSE. It is now the High Commission and Bangladesh Government who should take action.”

Of the campaign to de-list GCM, Richard Solly (Network Coordinator of London Mining Network) said:

“Since LMN was launched in 2007, we have supported the struggle against the Phulbari project. It is utter madness for GCM to keep pressing on with a new opencast coal project which would displace tens of thousands of people dependent on rural occupations, with no guarantee that they could find alternative work, and at a time when we know we have to stop burning coal anyway. UK authorities should not allow London share markets to be used to finance this kind of destructive project. GCM should be delisted.”

Sara Cordovez of Extinction Rebellion Youth Solidarity said:

As XR Youth Solidarity, we stand with the Phulbari Solidarity Group in marking the 15th anniversary of the Phulbari Day shooting. For us at XR Youth Solidarity, Phulbari Day represents the undeniable link between people and planet: our global fossil-fuel addicted economy is killing people, directly and indirectly, and driving us towards the ecological and climate collapse, while leaving communities like Phulbari to mourn for the youth that stood against this fate. We stand united against GCM and emphatically condemn their continued listing in the London Stock Exchange.”

Speaking from Bangladesh, Professor Anu Muhammad , Member Secretary of the central National Committee to Protect Natural Resources said:

“ This is unbelievable that a fraud company like GCM which has no credibility even as a business house, rather it has blood in its hands, lies in their leaps, falsehood in their papers, poison in their activities- still enjoying support from British establishment to continue with these. This company has been cheating people in share business to make money in the name of Phulbari where they were behind killing people, on which they have no valid license, where they tried to implement a disastrous project, from where they were driven out in 2006 by a mass uprising and never allowed to enter.

Since 2006, in all these years they have been trying to incite violence in the area, tried to mobilize criminals against community leaders, made false cases against them, but could not enter into the area. People’s resistance remains strong. These frauds should also be driven out by British institutions including LSE. We are looking forward to seeing the trial of these criminals in Dhaka and London .”

Sara Callaway of Women of Colour GWS & International Global Women’s Strike (UK, India, Ireland, Peru, Thailand, USA), said:

“The determined resistance of women in particular halted plans for a devastating coal mine. People of Phulbari — women, men and children, are acting also for us and we must act with them. Our thoughts are with the families of the children shot dead by paramilitaries, and those injured. These brutal attacks did not to stop protests. Women, as often happens, were central — on marches, road blocks, and even courageously chasing away paramilitaries with brooms and cooking utensils to protect lives. Your strength is an inspiration to us all. We will publicise your struggle especially during the weeks of climate action to end polluters – we must abolish multi-national polluters to save the planet and ourselves. Grassroots women are the carers everywhere. They and all carers for people and planet deserve a income to strengthen our struggle and win. Power to Phulbari, India’s farmers, Haiti, Burma, Marikana and all organising for justice and to save our planet!”

Contact Information

For more background information and context on London Mining Network, contact:

Saul Jones – Communications Coordinator, London Mining Network

Email: saul@londonminingnetwork.org

Phone: 07928 443248

London Mining Network (LMN) is an alliance of human rights, environmental and solidarity groups. We work together to support communities harmed by London-based and financed mining companies.

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SOURCE: https://londonminingnetwork.org/2021/08/15th-phulbari-day/

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