PRESS RELEASE

LONDON SOLIDARITY ACTION TO SAVE THE SUNDARBANS BLOCKED BANLGADESH HIGH COMMISSION

 

  • Passionate climate justice activists in London block the entrance of the Bangladesh High Commission for three hours demanding immediate halt to Rampal Coal Power Plants
  • Bangladesh High Commission deployed police to harass peaceful climate change protesters
  • The High Commissioner refused to meet activists and denied Bangladeshi citizens’ entry to the building
  • A memorandum signed by 30 climate justice organsiations calls on the Bangladesh government to stop building fossil fuel industries near the Sundarbans

 

Amidst heavy policing and non-stop rain passionate climate and mangrove rights activists have blocked the main entrance of the Bangladesh High Commission in London today for three hours. A powerful and noisy solidarity action by London based transnational campaigners condemn the Bangladesh government’s decision to implement the 1,320 MW Rampal coal power plant as it would destroy the Sundarbans in Bangladesh. Protesters echo calls in their memorandum signed by members of 30 participating organisations demanding the Bangladesh government must put immediate halt to the Rampal project and take responsibility to save the Sundarbans.

A representative of five non-violent Bangladeshi protesters wanted to hand in the memorandum to the High Commissioner, Ms Saida Muna Tasneem, asking her to convey their five-point demand to the government, but she refused to make herself available to activists. Bangladeshi citizens were turned away, and denied access to the building and harassed by privately hired security guards and police which the activists called appalling. Protesters joined the UK Committee to Protect Natural Resources in Bangladesh and the Phulbari Solidarity Group with a coalition of Global Justice Rebellion and other climate organisations. Following from the refusal and rude manners of the High Commissioner and her First Officer, more climate activists joined the protest and formed a human chain blocking the entrance of the building in the afternoon.

A Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company Ltd is building the giant Rampal coal power plant project, and a joint venture between National Thermal Power Company of India and the Bangladesh Power Development Board is going ahead, enabling additional 154 industrial constructions to be built in southwest Bangladesh.  These industrial constructions are threatening the Sundarbans, located at the Indian-Bangladeshi border. The 1,320 MW Rampal coal-power plant is located 14 miles from the Sundarbans, situated at the Indian-Bangladeshi border. The Sundarbans are the world’s single largest mangrove forests, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a natural protective barrier for Bangladeshi coast against frequent storm-surges. They also are home to one of the last populations of the Bengali Tiger.

The proposed power plant is in an area already documented to be at or below sea level. UNESCO has asked the government to stop all industrial constructions until the exact impacts for the forests have been critically assessed. On Thursday 4 July at the 43rd meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Baku UNESCO “notes with great concerns the likely environmental impacts of large scale industrial projects” and asked Bangladesh government to “take all necessary mitigation measures”. Despite UNESCO’s recommendation to halt constructions, the Bangladesh government is going ahead with industrial constructions and the power plant in the vicinity. Climate activists in Bangladesh who raise voice against the Rampal project have been faced with incredible repression.

Dr Rumana Hashem, an organiser of the London Solidarity Action and the coordinator of Phulbari Solidarity Group says:

We are protesting here because the Bangladesh government does not have the right to destroy the world’s largest mangrove forests in this way. UNESCO noted the danger of Rampal coal fired project for the survival of the Sundarbans but the government has violated UNESCO’s recommendations and did not stop building coal plants. People in Bangladesh have been protesting for years but government repress them badly. We demand that the government of Bangladesh will come to sense to scrap the Rampal project immediately. We must not let destructive projects destroy our greatest mangrove forests. 

Akhter Sobhan Khan of the UK Committee to Protect Natural Resources in Bangladesh says:

There is an Alternative Power and Energy Plan for Bangladesh , recommended by the energy experts belonging to the Save the Sundarbans movement, which shows that it is possible to generate up to 91,700 MW of electricity through renewable sources. The government totally overlooked the alternative energy plan. As we protest today we have been harassed by the High Commissioner’s security guards and police, despite advance permission sought to hand in the memo to the High Commissioner  who refused to meet us.This is unacceptable.

Kofi Mawuli Klu, the joint-coordinator of the Global Justice Rebellion and Extinction Rebellion International Solidarity Network states:

Sundarbans are the world’s largest mangrove forests. We all have responsibilities to save them. For the Internationalist Solidarity imperatives of our Climate and Ecological Emergency International Rebellion demand, we boldly take sides with grassroots Communities of Resistance at the Global South front ranks of defending World Heritage sites like the Sundarbans. We stand firm with the communities to prevent their loss from worsening the looming catastrophe. The most decisive victories of our International Rebellion will be won on such Global South battlegrounds as the Sundarbans, to effectively save all Humanity and our entire planet Earth.

Nicki Myers, the coordinator of the Disabled Rebels Network of Extinction Rebellion, says, explaining why she and her rebels participate in this protest:

The Civil DISobedience affinity group is taking part in this action because, like everyone here, we act to protect all life. We want to use our position of privilege in being able to peacefully protest to try and save these bountiful forests and the life they support. We have also supported the UK actions against the Phulbari coal mine. Recently we were humbled by the support of our friends in the Bangladesh solidarity movement who supported our actions to secure the right for disabled people to have equal rights to peaceful protest. 

Environmental Justice Bloc, Extinction Rebellion Cambridge, Extinction Rebellion Youth, Extinction Rebellion London, Global Justice Forum, London Mining Network, Reclaim the Power, Rising Up, South Asia Solidarity, and 21 other ecological and climate justice organisations from the UK and Europe vouch to stand with Bangladesh to prevent destructive coal projects in Bangladesh.

 

Which are the coal plants that threaten the Sundarbans?

There are three coal plants that threaten the Sundarbans. The first plant is being built by a joint venture of Bangladesh and India’s state-owned National Thermal Power Corporation at Rampal, within 14 kilometers north of the world Heritage site. There are two other plants to be built at Taltoli and Kalapara as joint Chinese-Bangladeshi ventures. The mentions of these later ones were taken out by the Chinese amendment to the final draft decision at the 43rd session on 4 July.

The pollution and dredging from these coal plants will, as a mission from the IUCN in 2016 reported, undyingly damage the world’s mangrove forests. There are also plans for two additional coal plants to be built on the Payra port, by Chinese investments, which would threaten the ecological buffer zone.

 

Contact for further information:

Akhter Sobhan Khan (akhtersk@gmail.com), UK Committee to Protect Natural Resources in Bangladesh

More Photos  and video footage from the protest are available on request.  

https://www.facebook.com/events/2617889908297326/

More information on the Sundarbans struggle can be found at:

PROTESTERS AND POLICE BLOCK LONDON STOCK EXCHANGE DEMANDING DE-LISTING OF BRITISH MINING COMPANY

PRESS RELEASE 23rd August 2019

 

Phulbari protest at LSE 23 Aug 2019. Photo credit: Dovydas Vilimas

 

Dramatic protests took place at the London Stock Exchange today as scores of police blocked off both entrances to the LSE with barriers and police lines in an attempt to stop protesters entering the building. The protesters, wearing all black, held a vigil outside the blocked entrance in commemoration of the massacre of three teenage boys during a non-violent protest against AIM listed Global Coal Management Resources plc (GCM) by communities around a proposed coal mine in Phulbari in 2006. Further protests are being held in Bangladesh on the official Phulbari Day on Monday 26th August. The UK protest was organised by the Phulbari Solidarity Group and the UK Committee to Protect Natural Resources in Bangladesh with a coalition of other organisations. Protesters echoed calls in their letter to Chief Financial Officer of the LSE, David Warren, demanding that GCM is investigated and de-listed from the London Stock Exchange for fraudulent and criminal activities.

Protesters ignoring police barricade pay tribute to Amin, Salekin and Tariqul during Black Vigil outside London Stock Exchange at 9am on 23 Aug 2019. Photo credit: Dovydas Vilimas

The protesters in London targeted David Warren personally, asking him to come and meet them and demanding that he take their complaints seriously and immediately de-list GCM. They shouted “London Stock Exchange, shame on you!” “London Stock Exchange is a crime scene”; and “David Warren – blood on your hands” during the protest which lasted over five hours with many onlookers throughout. A survivor and eye witness of the 2006 massacre spoke passionately about the ongoing suffering and harassment of people in Phulbari GCM Resources.

Protesters chanting slogan shaming David Warren at LSE. Friday 23 Aug 2019. Photocredit: Dovydas Vilimas

 

Deputy leader of the Green Party in England and Wales, Amelia Womack, who attended the demonstration, said:

The Phulbari coal project symbolises a threat to people, lives and human rights in Bangladesh. We stand with the protesters demanding that the London Stock Exchange de-list GCM Resources for their violations.

 

Protesters paid tribute with Red and White roes to Amin, Salekin and Tariqul during Black vigil at LSE. Friday, 23 Aug 2019. Photocredit: Fossil Free UK.

Meanwhile in Bangladesh, indigenous communities and thousands of anti-mine activists will commemorate the lost lives by forming Red and Black vigils under the banner of National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports in Bangladesh on 26th August. The communities and families of victims will pay tribute with flowers to the memorial of the three dead at the Phulbari Memorial. The vigils demand that government must ban open cast coal mine, that Phulbari Day must be declared as the National Fossil Free Energy Day and government should implement the Phulbari Day Verdict by taking legal action against GCM immediately.

 

On 26 August 2006 three boys Amin (13), Salekin (16) and Tariqul (19) were shot dead, and more than two hundred injured in a non-violent demonstration of 80,000 people against plans for an open cast coal mine by GCM’s subsidiary Asia Energy. The eight million ton mine would forcibly displace 130,000 people from Phulbari in northwest Bangladesh. Construction of the plant is dependent on approval from the Bangladeshi government who previously shelved plans for the development following huge protests. Subsequently GCM’s CEO Gary Lye has filed multiple cases against 26 community organisers in Phulbari and Dinajpur claiming he has felt ‘harassed’ when he visited the area in an attempt to continue coal mining plans in 2014.

A protester is writing the names of the three dead in Phulbari shooting, Amin, Salekin and Tariqul during Black Vigil outside London Stock Exchange. Friday 23 Aug 2019. Photo credit: Dovydas Vilimas

 

Nuruzaaman, a survivor of Phulbari shooting and a local community organiser of the 2006 Phulbari Day protest in Phulbari says:

GCM is a fraudulent and murderer company who killed three of our young people for simply watching over a non-violent demo. The company’s CEO, Gary Lye, laughed after the killing on television. They bribed our police and border security guards to kill us and poison our society. They created violence which left three killed and 220 injured even before the company was awarded approval for mining in our Phulbari. They do not have a license, there is no project in Phulbari. We halted the mine 13 years ago. But GCM are selling shares in London Stock Exchange in the name of Phulbari. They continue abusing us. GCM’s arbitrary court cases against myself and 25 other community organisers in Phulbari claimed 1billion taka (BDT 100 crore) for so called harassments that Gary Lye and his men faced after they killed people in Phulbari. 9 of the 11 cases against me have already been dismissed by the courts. We want justice in our fight against this criminal company which has destroyed so many lives already.

Protests are ramping up in the UK following 13 years of campaigning for GCM to be de-listed from the LSE. Responding to the massacre and widespread protests, the Bangladeshi Government declined to renew the GCM subsidiary Asia Energy’s license to extract coal from Phulbari in 2010. Despite aggressive lobbying and public claims that they have government approval for coal extraction, GCM continues to have no valid contract with the Bangladesh government. However GCM recently 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, which created a hike in its share price. GCM has no other operation or assets, yet the company continues to sell shares on the LSE on the basis of the Phulbari coal project.

Phulbari protest at LSE. Friday, 23 Aug 2019. Photocredit: Fossil Free UK

A letter from twelve leading campaigning organisations from the UK, Europe and USA was sent to LSE Financial Director David Warren asking that the London Stock Exchange de-list GCM by Phulbari day. The letter details the company’s fraudulent selling of shares on the UK stock exchange without any viable project or permission to mine in Phulbari, as well as harassment of activists in Bangladesh. The letter points out that GCM is one of a string of London listed mining companies linked to the murder or ‘massacre’ of protesters, including Lonmin, Glencore, Kazakhmys, ENRC, Essar, Vedanta, Anglo Gold Ashanti, African Barrick Gold and Monterrico Metals. It notes the failure of the Financial Conduct Authority or the London Stock Exchange to investigate or penalise any London listed mining company on these grounds, and notes that this is bringing the LSE into disrepute.

Rumana Hashem from Phulbari Solidarity Group in London, who was present at the 2006 demonstration, says:

Dr Rumana Hashem at Phulbari protest at LSE. Friday 23 Aug 2019. Photocredit: Dovydas Vilimas

 London Stock Exchange is complicit in the criminal activities of GCM by allowing them to retail shares and cheating on ordinary people for a decade. I have witnessed Asia Energy’s violence in Bangladesh, heard the cries of the victims and seen tears of non-violent protesters who were injured in GCM’s inflicted violence in one of Bangladesh’s most harmonious, flood protected and green place. GCM want to destroy the region and livelihood of the people in Phulbari. GCM’s CEO Gary Lye has been targeting local opponents. They must be held to account.

Natalie Bennett, politician and former leader of the Green Party of England and Wales said:

I am proud to stand in solidarity with campaigners in Bangladesh campaigning against the Phulbari Coal project, as well as in remembrance of those massacred in 2006 while standing up for their rights. There should be no place in the London Stock Exchange for companies creating such immense harm to our environment and international community.

She added, We all need to take action to ensure we remain below 1.5 degrees of warming, and that includes the LSE. There is no place for open cast coal mining in the fossil fuel future this planet demands.

The London rally is co-hosted by a wide coalition of groups including Extinction Rebellion International Solidarity Network, Foil Vedanta, Extinction Rebellion Youth, Reclaim the Power and Christian Climate Action.

The vigil was attended by the deputy leader of the Green Party, the coordinator and activists of the London Mining Network, and activists from Fossil Free UK, 350.org UK, Decolonising Environment, Disability Climate Action, Extinction Rebellion London, Marikana Solidarity and others.

Phulbari protest at LSE. Friday, 23 Aug 2019. Photo credit: Paul Dudman

Akhter Khan from the Committee to Protect Natural Resources of Bangladesh – UK branch, says:

We demand that London Stock Exchange must de-list GCM as the company do not have valid license to conduct business in Phulbari. LSE must not allow GCM’s deceitful money grabbing from the share market.

Kofi Mawuli Klu from Extinction Rebellion International Solidarity Network UK says:

XRISN-UK stands with the Phulbari Solidarity Group, the National Committee and all Environmental Justice campaigners in and outside Bangladesh in solemn remembrance not only of those martyred but also of those who survived to continue fighting up till now for real Change for a better World! It is with the blood of the heroic likes of the Phulbari martyrs that our XR International Rebellion is fuelled; and this gives us the assurance that the Struggle will continue relentlessly through the turbulence of this dangerous time of Climate and Ecological Emergency; it will continue till we overcome to usher in the victories they deserve.

#BlackVigil #CoalMurder #PhulbariDay

 

For Further information on the Black vigil, Phulbari massacre and GCM’s lies check out:

A little film on Youtube: https://youtu.be/jTBnAWl_bVQ

Video clips from the Black vigil (by Jason Parkinson ): https://jasonnparkinson.com/2019/08/23/protestors-demand-london-stock-exchange-de-list-uk-mining-company/

  1. GCM provides false information and Bangladesh Government will take legal action against GCM – by Arifuzzaman Tuhin: The Daily Prothom Alo, 24 August 2019 
  2. Protesters demand London Stock Exchange delists mining company: Morning Star, 23 August 2019.
  3. Phulbari day observed in Bangladesh: The New Age, 27 August, 2019.
  4. Vigil held in front of London Stock Exchange –  350.org report
  5. Protests planned at London Stock Exchange over links to massacre in Bangladesh: Morning Star, 21 August 2019.
  6. Govt mulls stopping Asia Energy’s activities in country – by Manjurul Ahsan: New Age, 9 December, 2014:http://www.newagebd.net/74878/govt-mulls-stopping-asia-energys-activities-in-country/#sthash.mWNPG6Xu.W0jEZXnK.dpbs

     4. Video footage of killings in Phulbari: https://phulbarisolidaritygroup.blog/videos/

     5. Facts about Phulbari coal project at a glance: https://www.banktrack.org/download/the_phulbari_coal_project/iap_factsheet_footnotes_the_final_0.pdf

      6. A copy of the letter to LSE Chief Financial Officer David Warren can be found at this url: https://wp.me/p2ZU1R-ql

 

 

Press Release

PHULBARI DAY PROTESTS IN LONDON AND BANGLADESH MARK MASSACRE BY BRITISH MINING COMPANY

  • Sombre protests will be held at London Stock Exchange on 23rd August and at Phulbari Memorial in Bangladesh on 26th August to mark ‘Phulbari day’, commemorating the massacre of protesters by GCM in Phulbari in 2006.
  • A letter from a coalition of groups demands that GCM is de-listed from the London Stock Exchange for fraudulent activities.

London, 14th August 2019: Sombre protests will take place at the London Stock Exchange in London and in Bangladesh on the 23rd and 26th of August to mark the 13th anniversary of the murder of three teenage boys and abuse of hundreds of people by AIM listed Global Coal Management Resources plc (GCM) during a non-violent protest by communities around a proposed coal mine in Phulbari in 2006. The anniversary is officially declared Phulbari Day in Bangladesh. A creative rally, a human chain and a performative vigil will be held at the London Stock Exchange organised by Phulbari Solidarity Group and the UK Committee to Protect Natural Resources in Bangladesh with a coalition of seven other organisations. Protesters will echo calls in their letter to Chief Financial Officer of the LSE, David Warren, demanding that GCM is de-listed from the London Stock Exchange for fraudulent and criminal activities.

Meanwhile in Bangladesh, indigenous communities and thousands of anti-mine activists will commemorate the lost lives by forming Red and Black vigils under the banner of National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports in Bangladesh on 26th August. The communities and families of victims will pay tribute with flowers to the memorial of the three dead at the Phulbari Memorial. The vigils demand that government must ban open cast coal mine, that Phulbari Day must be declared as the National Fossil Free Energy Day and government should implement the Phulbari Day Verdict by taking legal action against GCM immediately.

On 26 August 2006 three boys Amin (13), Salekin (16) and Tariqul (19) were shot dead, and more than two hundred injured in a non-violent demonstration of 80,000 people against plans for an open cast coal mine by GCM’s subsidiary Asia Energy. The eight million ton mine would forcibly displace 130,000 people from Phulbari in northwest Bangladesh. Construction of the plant is dependent on approval from the Bangladeshi government who previously shelved plans for the development following huge protests. Subsequently GCM’s CEO Gary Lye has filed multiple cases against 26 community organisers in Phulbari and Dinajpur claiming he has felt ‘harassed’ when he visited the area in an attempt to continue coal mining plans in 2014.

Nuruzzaman, a survivor of Phulbari shooting and a local community organiser of the 2006 Phulbari Day protest in Phulbari says:

GCM is a fraudulent and murderer company who killed three of our young people for simply watching over a non-violent demo. The company’s CEO, Gary Lye, laughed after the killing on television. They bribed our police and border security guards to kill us and poison our society. They created violence which left three killed and 220 injured even before the company was awarded approval for mining in our Phulbari. They do not have a license, there is no project in Phulbari. We halted the mine 13 years ago. But GCM are selling shares in London Stock Exchange in the name of Phulbari. They continue abusing us. GCM’s arbitrary court cases against myself and 25 other community organisers in Phulbari claimed 1billion taka (BDT 100 crore) for so called harassments that Gary Lye and his men faced after they killed people in Phulbari. 9 of the 11 cases against me have already been dismissed by the courts. We want justice in our fight against this criminal company which has destroyed so many lives already. ”

Protests are ramping up in the UK following 13 years of campaigning for GCM to be de-listed from the LSE. Responding to the massacre and widespread protests, the Bangladeshi Government declined to renew the GCM subsidiary Asia Energy’s license to extract coal from Phulbari in 2010. Despite aggressive lobbying and public claims that they have government approval for coal extraction, GCM continues to have no valid contract with the Bangladesh government. However GCM recently 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, which created a hike in its share price1. GCM has no other operation or assets, yet the company continues to sell shares on the LSE on the basis of the Phulbari coal project.

Rumana Hashem from Phulbari Solidarity Group in London, who was present at the 2006 demonstration, says:

London Stock Exchange is complicit in the criminal activities of GCM by allowing them to retail shares and cheating on ordinary people for a decade. I have witnessed Asia Energy’s violence in Bangladesh, heard the cries of the victims and seen tears of non-violent protesters who were injured in GCM’s inflicted violence in one of Bangladesh’s most harmonious, flood protected and green place. GCM want to destroy the region and livelihood of the people in Phulbari. GCM’s CEO Gary Lye has been targeting local opponents. They must be held to account. ”

The London rally is co-hosted by a wide coalition of groups including Extinction Rebellion International Solidarity Network, Foil Vedanta, Christian Climate Action, Extinction Rebellion Youth, and Reclaim The Power. The protest is expected to be theatrical and hard hitting with participants wearing black clothes and masks, forming human chain, paying tribute with red roses to the memorial of the three killed, and singing songs of mourning and resistance from the Phulbari struggle to commemorate the lost lives.

Akhter Khan from the Committee to Protect Natural Resources of Bangladesh – UK branch (4), says:

We demand that London Stock Exchange must de-list GCM as the company do not have valid license to conduct business in Phulbari. LSE must not allow GCM’s deceitful money grabbing from the share market. ”

Kofi Mawuli Klu from Extinction Rebellion International Solidarity Network UK says:

XRISN-UK stands with the Phulbari Solidarity Group, the National Committee and all Environmental Justice campaigners in and outside Bangladesh in solemn remembrance not only of those martyred but also of those who survived to continue fighting up till now for real Change for a better World! It is with the blood of the heroic likes of the Phulbari martyrs that our XR International Rebellion is fuelled; and this gives us the assurance that the Struggle will continue relentlessly through the turbulence of this dangerous time of Climate and Ecological Emergency; it will continue till we overcome to usher in the victories they deserve.”

A letter signed by 12 transnational climate justice organisations under the coalition of Phulbari Solidarity has been sent to LSE Financial Director, demanding that GCM is investigated and de-listed for its crimes and fraudulent selling of shares without any valid asset. The letter points out that GCM is one of a string of London listed mining companies linked to the murder or ‘massacre’ of protesters, including Lonmin, Glencore, Kazakhmys, ENRC, Essar, Vedanta, Anglo Gold Ashanti, African Barrick Gold and Monterrico Metals. It notes the failure of the Financial Conduct Authority or the London Stock Exchange to investigate or penalise any London listed mining company on these grounds, and notes that this is bringing the LSE into disrepute.

 

 

More information on the Phulbari massacre can be found at:

Video footage of killings in Phulbari: https://phulbarisolidaritygroup.blog/videos/

Facts about Phulbari coal project at a glance: https://www.banktrack.org/download/the_phulbari_coal_project/iap_factsheet_footnotes_the_final_0.pdf

 

Contact for further information: Miriam Rose ( miriam.rose@outlook.com ) to organise statements or interviews with any of the host organisations or case studies.

 

 

#PhulbariDayVigil #CoalMurder

 

 

 

Ensure Security to Anu Muhammad: Denounce Government’s Inaction to Save the Sundarbans

Joint Statement by

Extinction Rebellion International Solidarity Network and Phulbari Solidarity Group

Friday the 26th July was International Mangrove Day when the world was believed to celebrate mangrove action for conservation of the mangrove and associated ecosystems. Whilst climate activists in the minority world such as USA celebrate mangrove action month, activists in the majority world face unspeakable repression during this mangrove action month.  We note on 12 July a dedicated mangrove rights activist and a leader of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports in Bangladesh (NCBD), Professor Anu Muhammad, was threatened to be kidnapped and silenced by malevolent terrorist claiming to be from India. This is appalling.

The threat to the professor came on the day after he wrote an article exposing government’s responsibility to prevent coal plants in the vicinity of the Sundarbans, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Professor Anu Muhammad is a renowned economist, a fearless climate activist, and the member secretary of the central NCBD. He should inspire us all. In our shock we read that he was told to pay BDT 400,000 and threatened to be kidnapped, otherwise.  Although he reported the incident to police straightaway on the same day, Bangladeshi police are yet to take action. Such malicious threat to Anu Muhammad and police inaction are abysmal.

We call on the government of Bangladesh to urgently enquire into the case and to provide security to Professor Anu Muhammad.  Police should inspect, identify and prosecute the criminals, and ensure that such intimidation never happens again.

Notably this is not the first time that Professor Anu Muhammad was intimidated. In February 2008 he was threatened to be killed. In September 2009 the same professor, along with 50 other NCBD activists, was brutally beaten by the state-security forces to such extent that he merely survived. He was opposing government’s decision to award gas and oil exploration rights in the Bay of Bengal to US based gas company called ConocoPhillips and the UK-based oil company Tullow Oil plc. who took Bangladesh government hostage for three blocks and wanted to export up to 80 per cent of gas from the country.  In 2018, Anu Muhammad, received further death threat by malicious extremists. But no action for his security was taken by the government so far.

NCBD march against Rampal deal to handover statement to PM of Bangladesh in Dhaka 28 July 2016. Courtesy: Anonymous NCBD activist.

We note it is not only Anu Muhammad who faced such threats in Bangladesh. Over the past several years during save the Sundrabans movement many Bangladeshi climate justice activists underwent intimidation and heightened insecurity including police brutality for their actions to protect mangrove and ecological justice. In 2016 on this day, police foiled non-violent demonstration and unleashed violence on those who marched to conserve the mangrove ecosystem in Bangladesh.

We express our intense disturbance to such intimidation, repression and government’s inaction to protect voices of mangrove in Bangladesh.  Bangladeshi mangrove rights activists deserve better.

We also explicitly condemn ongoing destruction of the Sundarbans, one of the world’s largest mangrove forests, located at the Indian-Bangladeshi border in south-west Bangladesh.  An Indian National Thermal Power Company and Bangladesh Power Development Board are building a joint venture coal power plant to produce 1,320 megawatt coal fired power in Rampal, within 14 kilometers of the Sundarbans.  The detrimental aspects of the project were highlighted by national and international experts. But the governments have so far ignored all criticisms.  Bangladesh government’s decision to implement the destructive Rampal coal power-plant near the Sundarbans is disgraceful.

We express our unambiguous support to activists of the Bangladesh National Committee and associated grassroots organisations as they are opposed by the destruction of the beautiful forests in the Sundarbans. The Sundarbans mangrove is an invaluable ecosystem along Bangladesh’s coast. Government of Bangladesh should take responsibilities to protect the mangrove site.

On this International Mangorve Action month, we stand firm in solidarity with Bangladeshi climate activists to take action to save the mangrove. Extinction Rebellion International Solidarity Network and Phulbari Solidarity will be watching development in Bangladeshi climate struggle.

 

#SavetheSundarbans

Contact for further information:

Kofi Mawuli Klu, Joint Coordinator, Extinction Rebellion International Solidarity Network

Email: mawusafo@yahoo.com

Rumana Hashem, Coordinator, Phulbari Solidarity Group                                                               Email: rowshonrumana@gmail.com

UNESCO Ask To Halt All Industrial Constructions Near Sundarbans Before SEA

 

Activists condemn UNESCO for failing to list the Sundarbans to “World Heritage in Danger”

 

By Akhter Khan

 

Despite heavy lobbying by Bangladesh government and Chinese coal diplomats, UNESCO held the ground by asking to halt all industrial constructions near the Sundarbans. On Thursday 4 July at the 43rd meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Baku the committee agreed a decision that “notes with great concerns the likely environmental impacts of large scale industrial projects” and asked Bangladesh government to “take all necessary mitigation measures”.

The committee asked the government to conduct a regional Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) by the end of 2019. It “expresses concern that 154 industrial projects upstream of the property are currently active, and reiterates the Committee’s request in Paragraph 4 of Decision 41 COM B.25”. The government has been asked to “ensure that any large-scale industrial and/or infrastructure developments will not be allowed to proceed before the SEA has been completed.”

The government of Bangladesh, backed by Chinese coal lobbyists, has maintained the Rampal project was put through a thorough environmental assessment process. But the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has disputed this claim.

Bangladeshi and transnational campaigners to save the Sundarbans condemned the decision of UNESCO for it has moved away from the earlier draft decision of the committee. The earlier draft did express grave concerns to the construction of three coal plants in the area. But the final decision re-drafted by China, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cuba, Hungary and Norway fails to recognise the threats linked to the coal plants near Sundarbans.

We should name and shame those members of the Committee that removed mention of danger of coal plants in the final declaration. UNESCO’s final decision is cowardly. But we also note it doesn’t approve building of any coal plants or industrial constructions in the vicinity before a Strategic Environmental Assessment is completed, said Dr Rumana Hashem, the Phulbari Solidarity spokesperson and an organiser of transnational campaign to save the Sundarbans.

An earlier draft decision of the Committee citing the site as a ‘Heritage in danger’ was indisputably supported by climate campaigners and earth defenders from across the world. On Monday 1st July, a petition initiated by Bangladeshi diaspora campaigners in the UK and Europe, and signed by 53 global ecological and grassroots climate justice organisations demanded UNESCO must recognise the threats posed to the Sundarbans.  There were other calls and messages sent from across the globe to the World Heritage Committee to save the Sundarbans.

Despite all calls, the Committee allowed amendments to the original draft decision. It also failed to acknowledge the existence of economical renewable energy options which were recommended by biodiversity experts. The Alternative Power and Energy Plan for Bangladesh, recommended by the energy experts belonging to the Save the Sundarbans movement articulate that it is possible to generate up to 91,700 MW of electricity through renewable sources. The Committee overlooked the Alternative Energy Plan.

Professor Anu Muhammad, the Member Secretary of NCBD said that: Yeras ago, UNESCO from its own research and investigations confirmed the danger of Rampal coal fired project for the survival of Sundarban. The global institution has to do more to save the Sundarban. The government and the corporations have been lobbying to rationalize disastrous projects there.

He added: People will not accept such decision. Lobbying and propaganda cannot hide the truth. We demand that the governments of both Bangladesh and India will come to senses to scrap the Rampal project immediately. When we say YES to the Sundarbans, we must say NO to Rampal and other destructive projects in the vicinity. 

Cultural Survival, Extinction Rebellion, Greenpeace Russia, Global Justice Forum, London Mining Network, Mangrove Action Project, Reclaim The Power, South Asia Solidarity, 350.org, Urgewald and 43 other environmental organisations from Asia, Afrika, Australia, Canada, Europe, East Europe, Middle East, UK and US stand firm in solidarity with Bangladeshi communities to prevent destructive coal projects in Bangladesh.

Urgewald’s Director, Knud Vöcking, stated:  Again the Sundarbans are threatened by fossil fuel projects. UNESCO has to step up but they failed!

Extinction Rebellion International Solidarity Network’s joint cooridinator, Kofi Mawuli Klu, as a signatory of Monday’s petition stated:

For the Internationalist Solidarity imperatives of our Climate and Ecological Emergency International Rebellion demand, we boldly take sides with grassroots Communities of Resistance at the Global South front ranks of defending World Heritage sites like the Sundarbans. We stand firm with the communities to prevent their loss from worsening the looming catastrophe. The most decisive victories of our International Rebellion will be won on such Global South battlegrounds as the Sundarbans, to effectively save all Humanity and our entire planet Earth.

 

Stop-rampal-coal-power-plant-poster-by Rudro Rothi.

Which are the coal plants that threaten the Sundarbans?

There are three coal plants that threaten the Sundarbans. The first plant is being built by a joint venture of Bangladesh and India’s state-owned National Thermal Power Corporation at Rampal, within 14 kilometers north of the world Heritage site. There are two other plants to be built at Taltoli and Kalapara as joint Chinese-Bangladeshi ventures. The mentions of these later ones were taken out by the Chinese amendment to the final draft decision at the 43rd session on 4 July.

The pollution and dredging from these coal plants will, as a mission from the IUCN in 2016 reported, enduringly damage the world’s mangrove forests. There are also plans for two additional coal plants to be built on the Payra port, by Chinese investments, which would threaten the ecological buffer zone.

 

#SavetheSundarbans #NotoRampalCoalPowerPlant

PRESS RELEASE: London Protesters Disrupted GCM’s AGM

PRESS RELEASE: London Protesters Disrupted GCM’s AGM

  • Activists Blocked the Front Entrance of the AGM for Four Hours

  • Three Arrested as Protesters Glued Themselves to the Entrance of the Venue

  • GCM’s Chairman Michael Tang Failed to Attend the AGM

  • Protesters Successfully Disrupted AGM

London, 28 December 2018: Bangladeshi protesters and transnational campaigners against the development of coal mines in the Phulbari region of Bangladesh blocked the entrance to the venue of the London based company GCM Resources’ annual general meeting in central London. Activists disrupted the AGM by occupying the front entrance for four hours from 9am to 1pm on Friday, 28 December. All major shareholders including GCM’s Head of Corporate Affairs Brian Mooney were blocked out, they waited angrily outside, then gave up and went home.

Three “Friends of Phulbari Solidarity” blocked the foyer of 33 Cavendish Square at 9am on Friday, 28 December 2018. Copyright: Samarendra Das.

Three activists superglued themselves to the entrance turnstiles of the lavish building of 33 Cavendish Square where GCM had planned to hold their AGM. The activists self-identified as “Friends of Phulbari Solidarity” refused to move until specialist police used solvents to detach them, then make arrests. Outside the building 30 more obstructed the entrance holding banners, chanting slogans and singing Christmas carols against the bullying coal mining company.

If the mine is built, it would lead to forceddisplacement of up to 230, 000 people over the 36-year life cycle of the project. It will increase poverty, water pollution and will plunder 14,600 hecters of Bangladesh’s most fertile and productive agricultural land in the region, causing a crisis of food production. It will have a devastating impact on the people and the environment. In return Bangladesh government would gain nothing but economic exploitation, said activists at Phulbari Solidarity Group.

A placard displayed outside 33 Cavendish Square by the Bangladesh National Committee’s UK branch asked the Financial Conduct Authority of London Stock Exchange to de-list GCM.  On Friday, 28 December 2018. Copyright: Golam Rabbani/PSG.

Noisy and jolly protesters sang Christmas jingles “Phulbari says NO! GCM must GO! We won’t let you trade in England. Or pollute Bangladesh”! Friday, 28 December 2018. Copyright: Paul Dudman.

Construction of the plant is dependent on approval from the Bangladeshi government who previously shelved plans for the development following massive protests in 2006. The 80,000 people’s peaceful and powerful march was attacked by paramilitary forces resulting in the deaths of three protesters and injured 220 more. Abuse by the UK company was furthered by the recent arbitrary cases against community leaders by GCM’s CEO. Gary Lye, the CEO of the company, filed multiple arbitrary cases against 26 frontline local leaders for opposing the proposed coal mine in 2016.

Friday’s colourful and vibrant protest addressed these issues and more. On November 27, 2018 GCM Resources claimed to have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Power China to develop a giant coal mine in Phulbari and to build a 6000 MW power plant. This news has made protesters angry.

Rumana Hashem of CPRB and PSG read out a petition by 134 community leaders from Phulbari. Friday, 28 December 2018, 33 Cavendish Square, London. Copyright: Paul Dudman

An eye witness to the Phulbari shooting and the spokesperson of the Phulbari Solidarity Group, Rumana Hashem has conveyed a petition signed by 134 community leaders from Phulbari challenging GCM’s so called MoU with China Power. Dissident shareholders were to hand in the petition to GCM’s chairman Michael Tang. But Tang was not in attendance. Activists say that Tang was worried about the protest.

The protest was co-organised by the Committee to Protect Resources of Bangladesh – UK branch of the Bangladesh National Committee, the Phulbari Solidarity GroupReclaim the Power, and Extinction Rebellion. They were joined by Foil Vedanta, London Mining Network, Cambridge Zero Carbon Society, Christian Climate Action, 350.org South Asia, and Udichi Shilpi Gosthi, UK.

Three “Friends of Phulbari” who successfully blocked out GCM’s shareholders on Friday were released from the Police custody at 3:30am on Saturday, 29 December 2018. Courtesy: Ian J Bray.

Three arrestees who passionately glued themselves to the entrance were released before 24 hours. They were charged with GBP 4000 for so called criminal damages. But the activists are proud to have joined and supported the Phulbari people. Extinction Rebellion said that they will fight the charges and provide legal supports to defend the activists during trial.

Protesters, jeering “Free Our Friends”, occupied the car park & fire exit of 33 Cavendish Squire. They blocked the exit and stopped the police van for police wrongly arrested three creative protesters. Friday, 28 December, 2018. Courtesy: Land In Curiosity.

Currently Bangladesh produces very little of its electricity from coal and whilst many other countries in the world are looking to transitioning away from coal, the Bangladesh government is planning to massively expand energy production through coal. “ We have published an alternative plan for power generation that demonstrates there is no need to take disastrous path of coal mining and coal power plants to meet power demand in Bangladesh – said Akhter Sobhan Khan Masroor of the Committee to Protect Resources in Bangladesh.

Supporting the protest, Hoda Baraka, Global Communications Director of 350.org stated:

The construction of any new coal power plant is inconceivable given the findings of the IPCC report released in October 2018. Every ton of coal burned makes an immediate contribution to the quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere causing long term and irreversible climate change. We need to keep fossil fuels in the ground now to ensure that we stay below 1,5 degrees in order to avoid catastrophic environmental breakdown.

###

What is the status of the project now?

On November 27, Global Coal Management Resources signed a memorandum of understanding with Power Construction Corporation of China, Ltd (Power China), to develop the coal mine in Phulbari and to build a 4000 MW power plant in Northwest Bangladesh. The company states, “The MOU embodies the principles of a cooperative relationship between the two parties to develop the Company’s proposed coal mine as well as power plants generating up to 4,000 MW at the mine site, and sets out the steps towards a future Joint Development Agreement, obtaining approval from the Government of Bangladesh and subsequent development of both the mine and power plants generating 4000MW.”

GCM wanted to hold their AGM in London on Friday, 28 December 2018, but Bangladesh diaspora along with allies did disrupt the AGM. A powerful, jolly and incredibly noisy protest was held outside the venue and against GCM’s aggressive plans to start mining in Phulbari.

These snapshots are taken from Friday’s protest by PSG BD photographer Golam Rabbani. These are free to use for non-commercial purpose. Please give a credit to the photographer though.

 

A video of the protest can be accessed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79IV2TjqRTo&feature=youtu.be

For more photos and video foootage, feel free to contact: Golam Rabbani @rabbani.enpolicy@gmail.com

An online report of GCM’s AGM is available on London Mining Network’s website:  http://londonminingnetwork.org/2018/12/the-sound-and-the-fury-yet-another-gcm-agm/

 

Further reports can be accessed from below:

Morning Star – Environmental activists confront coal-mining executives at shareholders’ meeting in London https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/environmental-activists-confront-coal-mining-executives-at-shareholders%27-meeting-in-london
The Daily Prothom Alo: 29 December 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

Vibrant Rally held in London on Global Day of Solidarity to Save the Sundarbans from Coal

By Rumana Hashem

On Saturday, the 10th November, London saw a vibrant rally by London’s climate activists at Altab Ali Park on the Global Day of Solidarity to Save the Sundarbans. In response to the National Committee to Protect Oil Gas and Mineral Resources in Bangladesh (NCBD)’s call to observe a worldwide solidarity to save the world’s largest mangrove forest, the UK branch of NCBD has organised a powerful rally which was joined by grassroots and community climate organisations. Speakers attending the rally called on Bangladesh and Indian governments to scrap Rampal coal-power plant urgently and to halt climate change in Bangladesh and across South Asia.

Altabl Ali Park rally in London on Global Day of Solidarity to Save the Sundarbans from Coal, 10 Nov 18. Courteasy: NCBDUK.

 

Presided by a veteran Bangladeshi community leader and medical professional Dr Rafikul Hasan Jinnah and moderated by the general secretary of the UK branch of NCBD, Akhter Sobhan Masroor, the rally was outraged about the joint project of the Power Development Board (PDB) of Bangladesh and National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) of India for 1320 Megawatt Rampal coal-fired plant because it is a deadly threat to the environment and livelihood of the Sundarbans. If built the Rampal power station in Bangladesh will spew 8 million tonnes of Co2 emissions into the atmosphere contributing to rising temperatures and irreversible climate change. This isn’t compatible with the scientific mandate to keep global heating under 1.5˚C.

Speakers expressed solidarity with the NCBD in their call to all political parties in Bangladesh to include forestry reservation, especially the Sundarbans, and environmental protection in their manifesto for the 11th national polls. Activists also demanded that the government stop all processes for industrialisation near the Sundarbans prior to declaring the schedule of the general election. The general secretary of the UK branch of NCBD, Akhter Sobhan Masroor, said that alongside the destructive coal-based Rampal power plant, a group of forest and land-grabbers have developed more than 300 commercial projects near the Sundarbans.

The rally was joined by East London’s leading local climate organisations such as Fossil Free Newham, the River Savings Network, the Water Keepers, the Extinction Rebellion, the Unite Community and Labour Party Women’s Forum in Tower Hamlets, the Bangladesh Socialist Party, the Communist Party of Bangladesh, the Liberty Arts, and of course Phlulbari Solidarity, UK. The London rally took place as part of  the global human chains and public meetings held in Bangladesh, Canada, France, Germany and across the world demanding immediate halt to the Rampal coal-plant in October and November.

 

The Sundarbans is the world’s largest mangrove forest and is located in Bangladesh – one of the world’s most vulnerable areas to climate change impacts. Despite grave concern raised by the experts and people, the government in Bangladesh is going ahead to implement an Indo-Bangla 1300 MW coal fired Rampal power plant close to the forest which speakers at the Altabl Ali Park rally branded as “clearly issued its death warrant”. In addition, it is inviting a range of national and international vested interest groups to grab forest and has set up hundreds of commercial projects in and around the Sundarbans.

This has not only put the livelihoods of at least 3.5 million people at risk, it has made the lives of around 40 million coastal people vulnerable to natural disasters. The Sundarbans have long since been a natural safe-guard against frequent cyclones, storms and other natural disasters in the country. Sundarbans provides a natural barrier against Bangladesh’s deadly climate change threat. In order to preserve its outstanding universal value and to protect the world’s largest mangrove forest, Saturday the 10th November has been observed worldwide as a global day of solidarity to save the Sundarbans.

 

For further background news, please read:

Global Protests on Saturday to Save the Sunderbans from coal, 350.org news, 09 November 2018.

A call for Global Day of Solidarity for the Sundarbans, Fossil Free Newham, 6 November 2018.

Stop industrialisation in Sundarbans before election schedule, Environmentalists urge govt. The Daily Star, 07 October 2018.

Make poll pledge to scrap hazardous power plants. The New Age, 07 October 2018.