National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports at a rally at Nimtola in Phulbari upazila under the district yesterday warned of tough programmes if their demands were not met within January 31 of the year ahead.
Grand rally of locals in Phulbari town on 27 December. Photo credit: Kallol Mustafa
The demands include arrest of Gary Lye, chief executive of Asia Energy Corporation of Bangladesh, withdrawal of a case filed against the local committee members by Asia Energy, government’s assurance to avoid open pit mining in Phulbari and implementation of the six-point agreement signed in August 2006.
The local chapter of the committee organised the rally yesterday afternoon protesting Gary Lye’s visit to Phulbari from November 24 to 26.
Villagers from the country side heading to the rally against Asia Energy’s Chief Executive Officer, Gary Lye . Photo: Kallol Mustafa
Addressing the rally, Anu Mohammad, member secretary of the central committee, highlighted the bad impact of open pit mining in Phulbari, if implemented.
The speakers urged the government to meet their demands or face blockade programme in northern districts on February 7 next year.
Grand rally in Phulbari demanding arrest and expulsion of GCM’s CEO, Gary Lye, from Bangladesh. Photo: Kallol Mustafa
Protesters from different areas of Dinajpur district joined the rally with processions.
Noise-Demo, Drumming, Coal Play and Interrogation at GCM’s AGM
AGM Disrupted by Protesters’ Interrogation
Protesters Demand Arrest of Gary Lye and De-listing of GCM from London AIM
by Raaj Manik, 10 December 2014
Protesters pledge GCM will be de-listed from London AIM soon. Photo: Paul V Dudman
Yesterday, Bangladeshi activists in conjunction with a diverse group of environmental and left political activists in London, heckled the investors of Global Coal Management Resources by their noise demo and coal play. Activists blocked the entrance to the Aeronautical Society by dumping coal in the doorway. They surrounded GCMs’ CEO Gary Lye and his fellows who are aggressively moving ahead to implement a massive open-pit mine in Phulbari, the northwest region of Bangladesh.
At the same time a delegation of protesters disrupted the AGM of GCM by questioning the investors inside the AGM about their fraudulent business in London’s Alternative Share Market (AIM).
Community activists (from left) of Swadhinota Trust, Bangladesh Workers Party (UK branch), and the UK branch of National Committee chanted slogans defying the company’s CEO Gary Lye’s pervasive propaganda about the protesters in Phulbari. Photo: Paul V. Dudman
The demo was organised by Phulbari Solidarity Group and the UK branch of the National Committee to Protect Oil- Gas-Mineral Resources and Port-Power in Bangladesh, in conjunction with other community groups and London Mining Network.
The event was endorsed by Socialist Party of England and Wales, World Development Movement, Occupy London, Foil Vedanta, European Action Group of Climate Change in Bangladesh, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, UK, and several community organisations including Nari Diganta, Swadhinota Trust, Udichi Shilpi Gosthi, Jubo Union, Friends of Chatro Union, Bangladesh Workers Party (UK branch), Bangladesh Communist Party (UK branch), and Bangladesh Socialist Party (UK branch).
The Sculpture in Tangail and Silk Sari, held three sacks of coals, symbolising the livelihood, culture, struggle, and resistance of Phulbari people. Photo: Stephen Vince
The event kicks in with the launch of artist Stephen Vince’s beautiful sculpture, symbolising the protest against the miners and the livelihood, culture, struggle, and resistance of Phulbari people. The sculpture, wearing a Tangail and Silk Sari, held three sacks of coals to symbolise the significance of the number three and a tribute to the three people who were killed in the dirty coal game of GCM in Phulbari.
Bangladeshi activists, carrying the sculpture and holding a banner saying – GCM hands off Phulbari, No open pit mine in Bangladesh- started to chant slogans and sing ‘tomar bari amar bari, Phulbari Phulbari’. Some protesters played drum and samba when Rumana Hashem and Shahriar Ali gave vocals, deriving slogans from Phulbari in Bangla basat vita dhongsho kore koila khoni hobena [destroying homes and land, no mine no mine]. Others attempted to enter the block calling the investors to come out of AGM and to apologise for their misdeeds and abuse in Bangladesh. Loud protesters were repeatedly warned about potential arrest by the authorities of Aeronautical Society (AS) who did not call police but appeared as racist.
Coal dumped on the front door and stairs of Aeronautical Society. Photo: Ansar Ahmed Ullah
Angry protesters dumped coal on the front door and stairs of AS, as they were prevented from taking out Gary Lye. Protesters said that they would not leave the venue before the interrogation of Gary Lye and his fellows was over. Meanwhile, a group of protesters went to check the investors’ vehicles and took over the car park as part of the blockade against Gary Lye, the company’s manipulative CEO, who was expelled from Phulnari for a 3rd time this year, on 26 November, but still continues to abuse Bangladesh government and Phulbari people.
When protesters outside the AGM were checking investor’s vehicles, a delegation of dissident climate justice activists attending the AGM challenged Gary Lye and the board inside the AGM about GCM’s unethical business in London and abusive activities in Bangladesh. Bangladeshi activists rattled the investors to an extent that the Chair was “fade up” and it was Gary Lye who ended up facing the questions about the paperless contract and propaganda of GCM. Phulbari activists challenged that GCM does not have valid contract with Bangladesh.
Diverse group of climate activists and protesters holding placards and listening to speeches by community leaders. Photo: Paul V Dudman
Climate activists of World Development Movement and London Mining Network supported Phulbari Solidarity activists, and asked numerous questions about the highly contentious Phulbari project, its huge human rights impacts and the OECD Guidelines as GCM has breached 2011 Guidelines, which do apply to the planned conduct of an enterprise in terms of prospective impacts on human rights. Activists said that ‘the company was illegitimate, the project illegitimate and the annual general meeting of GCM was illegitimate’.
The meeting broke up unceremoniously and the shareholders broken up into two groups.
Richard Solly of London Mining Network is briefing the demonstrators about the interrogation inside the AGM and the failure of GCM board to answer the questions of Bangladeshi activists. Photo: P V Dudman
The delegation of climate activists came out of the AGM and joined the protesters outside where Golam Mostofa, Richard Solly, Zahanara Rahman and Sam Sender updated the demonstrators that Gary Lye and his fellows have failed to answer the questions of Bangladeshi activists. ‘They are even lying about national media and the government in Bangladesh’, said Mrs Zahanara.
Protesters chanted slogans ‘Gary Lye is a Lier, Shame on Gary Lye’, GCM and Asia Energy, hushiar sabdhan [be aware of peoples’ power]’. One angry protester attempted to walk into the building with a sack of coal to dump on Gary Lye’s chair, but was prevented from entering the meeting room by the AS’s equally racist authority who received the coal on behalf of the investors.
Speakers in the demo asserted that there is no hope for Asia Energy and GCM in relation to coal business in Bangladesh when the government including the Prime Minister, Energy Minister and Energy Secretary of the country have reaffirmed that Bangladesh will not go for open pit mine in Phulbari. Speakers include Akhter Sobhan Khan, Abed Ali, Ahmed Zaman, Ansar Ahmed Ullah, Effie Jordan, Ishak Kajol, Mostofa Farook, Nurul Islam, Peter Mason, Syed Enam, Shah Enam, Julie Begum, and many more.
The Masters of the event were Shahriar Ali and Rumana Hashem. The event was volunteered by a number of left activists and professional photographers including artist Stephen Vince, Golam Rabbani of Diamond Studios, Nicole Meedrum, Patrick, Chris and many more. The chairperson of National Committee’s UK branch, Dr Mokhlesur Rahman, thanked everybody for coming along and for taking on important theatrical roles.
Diverse group of climate activists kept coming and joining the demo which they found extraordinary in London. Photo: Paul V Dudman
The demo ended with a manifesto calling out GCM for an end of GCM’s dodgy deals on Phulbari coal project, and by criticising the UK NCP’s controversial recommendations to the company. The founder and coordinator of Phulbari Solidarity Group, Rumana Hashem, read out the manifesto of the demo and called the London’s AIM to de-list GCM.
The manifesto concludes by expressing full solidarity with the Phulbari people’s struggle and by condemning the UK government for failing to hold the UK-based company accountable.
Dr Rumana Hashem reads out the statement of the demo. Photo: Paul V Dudman
Miners GCM Resources is the subject of a complaint to the Organisation for Co-operation and Development over the controversial coal mine. They have only one active project, the Phulbari coal project, which awaits permission from the Government of Bangladesh to go ahead. But the people in Phulbari want to put the company out of Bangladesh, ban the Phulbari project and to take the company and its investors to public court for their abusive and fraudulent activities.
Phulbari, the town in upheaval in northwest Bangladesh where three people were shot dead during the protest against immense open pit mine in 2006, has become volatile again since, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the AIM-listed British company, Gary N Lye, attempted to conduct consultation with locals in the town centre. There were two days long blockade in Dinajpur-Dhaka highway, and over a thousand people braved cold to raise their protest at Gary Lye’s visit last month.
Phulbari demo and protest in London ends with a pledge that there will be no mine in Phulbari. Photo: Paul V Dudman
On 26 November, locals in Phulbari surrounded Lye and GCM’s Bangladesh subsidiary Asia Energy‘s local office, and the CEO had to leave Phulbari and Dinajpur in police protection. Violent protests erupted where 2 were injured. Protesters have demanded Gary Lye’s immediate arrest and expulsion from Bangladesh. A month-long programme including nation-wide protests have followed. Protesters will not go back home until their demands are full-filled.
Capitol Hill at Night (c/o Jeff Nickel on Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Content warning: some of the materials referred to below may contain content that some may find distressing.
There has been a lot of media coverage of the US Senate intelligence committee’s report on CIA torture since the publication of the summary yesterday. One of many areas of controversy has been the role of psychologists in assisting the development of “enhanced interrogation techniques”, as well as the position taken by the American Psychological Association (APA).
So, where can you find out more about this story, the position of the APA and its UK equivalent, the British Psychological Society (BPS)?
Definitions of Torture
The International Criminal Court Act (2001) sets out the definition of ‘torture’ in relation to the UK’s obligations regarding the International Criminal Court (a separate Act applies to Scotland):
Manifesto of the Demo against the Dirty Coal Miners of Asia Energy/GCM 2014
Tuesday, 9 December, 2014. London
Today we, the activists from Bangladesh, East London, the Borough of Tower Hamlets, and London’s environmental organisations, have gathered to call upon the AIM-listed London-based multinational company, GCM Resources Plc, to end its unethical business. The company, GCM Resources, is desperately moving to implement an immense open pit coal mine in northwest Bangladesh, forcibly displacing an estimated 130, 000 people and destroying the homes, lands, and water sources of as many as 220,000 people. If the project is implemented, it will destroy over 14,660 acres of fertile agricultural land that produce three food crops annually, threatening to increase hunger in a country in which over a third of all children and nearly 17 percent of the entire population are undernourished.
GCM’s planned Phulbari coal mine has provoked repeated protests by local people. Three people were killed and over 200 injured when paramilitary officers opened fire on a protest against the project in August 2006. Protests in 2013 forced the company’s CEO, Gary Lye, to abandon a visit to the area.
The project has generated grave concern at national and international levels including the United Nations. On 28 February, 2012, seven UN human rights experts have called for an immediate halt to the project, citing threats to fundamental human rights, including the rights to water, food, adequate housing, freedom from extreme poverty and the rights of indigenous peoples. But GCM is aggressively moving ahead to implement this project.They are selling fraudulent shares in London’s Alternative Investors Market (AIM) without any valid contract with Bangladesh Government.
The situation in Phulbari has become tense and volatile again since Tuesday the 25th November, when the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Gary N Lye, attempted to visit Phulbari. Gary Lye is the man who called the protesters outsiders in 2006, and commented, after the death of three people shot by police at a demonstration, that “I am a businessman, [ …] I will continue my business in Phulbari’ regardless of whether there was a bloodshed or not. Therefore, people in Phulbari braved cold to raise their protest at Gary Lye’s attempted visit. Over a thousand people blocked the Dinajpur-Dhaka highway for five hours, demanding Lye’s arrest and expulsion from Bangladesh. In Phulbari there were two days long protests outside GCM’s Bangladesh subsidiary Asia Energy’s local office. Violent protests erupted where 2 were injured.
On Wednesday, 26 November, the company’s CEO, Gary Lye, attempted to conduct consultation with locals in Phulbari following advice of the UK government which was released on Thursday, 20 November. The UK government’s statement follows an investigation into GCM’s activities in Phulbari, and it concluded that the company had breached the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises by failing to “foster confidence and mutual trust” with the people who would be affected by the mine. We welcome the Board’s affirmation that the 2011 Guidelines on human rights do apply to the planned conduct of an enterprise and its prospective impacts on human rights (para 6). We welcome also the finding that the 2011 Guidelines would apply if GCM “continued to be “actively involved in the project” (para 19).
But we are hurt by the ambiguous conclusion of the investigation. The investigation does not ask the company to pull off from the devastating project. Its recommendations are reduced to re-evaluation of the risks and impact. It asked the company to foster communication with the locals following a narrow approach. The final-published investigation failed to consider how the mine would affect the people of Phulbari if it were built, and its conclusions were limited to GCM’s record in the planning phase of the project to date. Although an internal review of the investigation affirmed that the OECD guidelines do apply to human rights abuses that would occur if the project went ahead, the final report failed to address the concerns of the internal review and did not correct the decision to exclude all potential impacts of the project from the investigation. We condemn the UK government for failing to hold their businessmen to account. We condemn the UK National Contact Point for failing to cite the extremely important first-hand accounts from Phulbari. We believe that it is the chair of the NCP, Liz Napier, who played a dirty game in this whole OECD investigation.
Liz Napier and her team at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills have overlooked many of our first-hand accounts, allowing the dirty coal miners of GCM Resources, Gary Lye, to go back to Phulbari for an unexpected re-evaluation of the situation. The visit of dirty miner, Gary Lye, has sparked protests leading to fresh violence in one of Bangladesh’s most peaceful town, Phulbari. We demand that Liz Napier and her team at UK National Contact Point must take the responsibility for the recent turmoil in Phulbari. We call for a suspension of Liz Napier from her current post at UK’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
The OECD investigation followed a complaint submitted by the World Development Movement and International Accountability Project. We appreciate the initiative of International Accountability Project and World Development Movement (thereafter Global Justice Now) in support of the people in Phulbari. Although the UK government has failed to hold this UK-based company to account, it is clear that the people of Phulbari will resist GCM’s project going ahead. Phulbari people have made it clear by declaring their month long programme in demand of GCM’s CEO’s arrest and expulsion from Bangladesh. We extend our full solidarity to the people in Phulbari.
We will continue to call upon the London AIM to delist the dirty miners, GCM Resources, from London’s Alternative Share Market. Our Secretary of Energy and Mineral Resources Division, Abu Bakar Siddique, reaffirmed that Asia Energy has no valid licence to develop Phulbari coal mine. Miner GCM must stop the propaganda about Phulbari coalmine. Our people do not want to leave their homes and land. Phulbari people will not work in a coal mine. GCM’s propaganda to create 17,000 new jobs in coal mine cannot ensure livelihood for 130,000 people feared to be affected during exploration in open pit method over the next 35 years. We will not let our people to die and our environment to de destroyed by dirty miners of GCM.
The UK Committee (National Committee) to Protect Oil- Gas-Mineral Resources and Port-Power in Bangladesh, in conjunction with Phulbari Solidarity Group, London Mining Network, World Development Movement, Foil Vedanta, Socialist Party of England and Wales, Occupy London, European Action Group of Climate Change in Bangladesh, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in UK and all our co-worker organisations, will continue to call for the company to be de-listed from the London Alternative Investors Market. We declare, on behalf of the people in Phulbari, this UK based company will never go back to Bangladesh. Asia Energy’s Chief Executive Officer, Gary Lye, and investors of GCM Resources were ousted from Phulbari. They will be resisted and the company will be uprooted from London soon.
In a cold morning on a week day in December, the Bangladeshi community of London in conjunction with a diverse group of environmental and left political activists heckled the investors of Asia Energy (thereafter Global Coal Management Resources) today. In a successful demonstration outside GCM’s Annual General Meeting at London Aeronautical Society, 4 Hamilton Place, W1, London protesters surrounded GCMs’ CEO, Gary Lye, and his fellows who are doing a fraudulent business in London’s Alternative Share Market (AIM), cheating with people of Bangladesh and UK.
Protesters told that GCM has no contract with the Government of Bangladesh but they are selling illegal shares in the London AIM. Protesters, calling in an end of GCM’s corruption and abusive activities in Bangladesh, demanded the de-listing of GCM from London AIM. They dumped coal at the entrance of the Aeronautical Society, and locked the investors into the building for two and a half hours. A group of demonstrators turned back the investors’ taxis, making the investors to walk.
A delegation of protesters interrogated Gary Lye and his fellows inside the AGM. In the share holder’s meeting Gary was asked by the share holders to present the contract of the Phulbari Project which he was unable to produce. Gary does not have any appropriate answer to justify his position in relation to the impact of open pit mining in Phulbari. Protesters demanded his arrest and expulsion from Bangladesh alongside the de-listing of GCM from London’s Alternative Share Market.
Photo Credit: Diamond Studios.
The manifesto of the demo reads that GCM is shamelessly lobbying with a few greedy government officials to get the contract yet they fail to recognise the fact that the people of Phulbari will not give their land, their environment and ecology to dirty coal miners. Local people will ensure that GCM is never going back to Phulbari. They will resist the destructive project of GCM, rather than so called jobs, cash and energy flow.
Protestors have successfully delivered the message to GCM’s dirty coal miners that although Bangladesh is eager for energy, they will not make the same mistake as the so-called developed world in terms of climate change and environmental degradation. We will ensure that GCM and Gary N Lye’s dirty hands are off the Phulbari coal mine.
Detailed report of the action at GCM’s AGM and the demo outside the AGM will be followed soon. Meanwhile readers can view photos of our action below.
A photo gallery of the 2014 London Demo Against the dirty coal miners GCM (Photo Credits: Paul Dudman and Julie Begum of Swadhinota Trust):
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