Gluing is NOT a Crime, Business Without License Is A CRIME

Statement on Crown Court Trial of Friends of Phulbari

Phulbari Solidarity Coalition’s Protest outside of London Stock Exchange, 26 August 2020. Photo credit: Bishwazit Baidya, Phulbari Solidarity Group.

On Thursday two of the three transnational friends of Phulbari resistance against coal-mining and a climate criminal corporation will appeal against their criminal charges for taking direct action against GCM Resources at the Southwark Crown Court in London at 10am on 6th May, 2021. 

The three women climate activists, Angela Ditchfield, Shulamit Morris-Evans and Amy Pritchard, who took direct action were charged with aggravated trespassing and criminal damage-related offences for gluing themselves to the entrance doors of a building that hosted the criminal Annual General Meeting (AGM) of an AIM-listed fraudulent coal mining company GCM Resources, previously Asia Energy, on 28 December 2018. The activists had received conditional discharge on 22 October in 2019, and all were given a 12-month conditional discharge, ordered to pay £350 each in costs and a £20 surcharge by the Deputy district judge at the City of London Magistrate’s Court.  The judge at the City of London Magistrate’s Court decided not to charge activists for aggravated trespassing after he accepted they were motivated by the cause of “human rights”. The activists were then found guilty of criminal damage of £350 each. 

Amy, Angela, and Shulamit outside of the City of London Magistrates Court on Tuesday 22 October 2019. Photo: Christian Climate Action.

Two activists, Angela Ditchfield, 43, and Shulamit Morris-Evans, 25, will appeal against the criminal damage convictions this Thursday because they believe that taking direct action in solidarity with Phulbari peoples is not a crime. It is rather the London-listed mining company, GCM, who should be prosecuted. GCM does not have a valid license for business with Bangladesh but they are selling shares in the name of a project that does not exist. GCM is doing wrong and is a criminal climate corporation. Activists took direct action in solidarity with Phulbari resistance and lent hands to Phulbari Solidarity Group outside the AGM of GCM at 33 Cavendish Road, where Bangladeshi and transnational climate activists were protesting against an immense open cast coal mine to be built in northwest Bangladesh, where GCM wants to construct a 4000 MW coal-power plant by immediately displacing as many as 130, 000 people from the region.  The company is also responsible for inflicting violence at protest of 80,000 people and the murder of three teenage boys who marched in Phulbari on 26 August in 2006. 

The direct action by Angela, Amy and Shulamit had helped disrupt the AGM of GCM. But the superglue damaged the metal where they glued on to their ‘speed gates’. The action inside the lavish building helped us block the entry to the building and disrupted the AGM successfully. Angela, Shulamit, and Amy glued themselves to the entrance of the AGM’s venue before it started in the early morning and continued disrupting the meeting for nearly four hours. Specialist police used solvents to detach them before making arrests. Outside the building 30 more protestors obstructed the entrance by holding banners and speaking out against the coal mine. All major shareholders including GCM’s Head of Corporate Affairs, Brian Mooney, were blocked from entering the building. The attendees waited outside of the venue for several hours, before eventually leaving to go home.

Amy, Angela and Shulamit glued to the entrance: The protest last year at the AGM of GCM Resources at 33 Cavendish Road, London. Photo credit: Paul Dudman, Phulbari Solidarity Group.

Angela Ditchfield is a mother-of-two teenage boys and a Kings Hedges Green Party candidate, Amy Pritchard is an activist at Extinction Rebellion Youth Solidarity, and Shulamit Morris-Evans is a school teacher and a member of Extinction Rebellion London. They all pleaded not guilty in 2019. They told the City of London magistrates that the protest was proportionate due to GCM’s plan to build a mine in Bangladesh that could displace thousands of vulnerable people. They joined a direct action alongside the Bangladeshi anti-coal campaigners at Phulbari Solidarity Group and Reclaim the Power that targeted the extractive company, GCM, at their AGM on 28 December in 2018. 

Protest outside of GCM’s AGM at 33 Cavendish Road in London on 28 December 2018. Photo credit: Golam Rabbani, Phulbari Solidarity Group.

Although GCM do not have any valid stake anywhere in the world, they are aggressively moving to build the coal project in Phulbari. They have announced a strategic partnership with two Chinese firms – China Nonferrous Metal Industry’s Foreign Engineering and Construction Company (NFC) and Power Construction Corporation of China (PowerChina) to develop the mine. On 4th September in 2019 GCM signed another agreement with DG Infratech Pte Ltd, a Dhaka-based agency to get a deal with Bangladesh government. During this pandemic, GCM’s CEO, Gary Lye has been harrassing frontline community activists in the ground in Phulbari and Dinajpur. Gary Lye has been pushing the arbitray cases he filed against 19 community leaders and farmers who have been undergoing trial in Dinajpur Magistrate’s Court this year when Bangladesh has been struggling in this testing time.

If the Phulbari coal mine is built, it would lead to forced-displacement of up to 220, 000 people over the 36 years life cycle of the project. The company would give only 6 percent of all extracted coal to Bangladesh and the remainder of high quality coal would be exported. Bangladesh government has declined the licence of GCM in 2007. We must resist!

A coalition of 12 climate organisations, under the banner of the Phulbari Solidarity Coalition, have asked London Stock Exchange to consider de-listing GCM and investigate the criminal activities of the company. The coalition echoing the demands in their letter said that allowing GCM to retail shares on the share market is to allow cheating on ordinary people. London Stock Exchange is yet to take action to de-list the company.   

Join the hearing and support the brave-green women activists at the Crown Court. 

Where? Southwark Crown Court 

When? 10am Thursday 6th May.

#CoalKills #EndClimateCrime #NoToCoalMining  #DelistGCMfromLondonStockExchange  EndClimateDisplacement #ClimateChangeIsAFeministIssue #StandWithPhulbariResistance #PhulbariSolidarity #Don’tUndermineBangladesh #NOToClimateRefugees #PhulbariResistance