PRESS RELEASE:Protesters in London and Bangladesh oppose AGM of GCM Resources Plc

                 For immediate release

6 March 2020, London.

  • Loud and dramatic protests will be held outside of GCM Resources’ rescheduled AGM on Tuesday 10th March between 9am-11.30am at Glaziers Hall, 9 Montague Close, London, SE1 9DD, after GCM Resources announces date with just 9 days notice.
  • The London-listed mining company has cancelled their last year’s meeting with 36 hours notice, citing ‘security’ concerns.
  • Communities in Phulbari, Bangladesh, are marching against the GCM’s AGM on Monday 9 March, demanding that the Bangladeshi government take immediate legal action against the AIM-listed company.
  • Bangladesh’s Deputy Energy Minister confirms that GCM has no valid license or asset in the country, and claims that the government will be taking legal action against them.

 

Copyright @Global Justice Rebellion, Phulbari Solidarity Coalition, XRY Internationlist Network.

Loud and dramatic protests are being organised by the Phulbari Solidarity Group and London Mining Network  alongside Global Justice Rebellion and a wide coalition of organisations at the AGM of the AIM-listed mining company GCM Resources Plc for the 11th consecutive year. Protesters will demand that GCM is delisted from the London Stock Exchange as it has no viable asset to its name, and has not held a license for coal exploration or mining in Bangladesh since 2006. Inside the AGM, dissident shareholders will attend the meeting, accusing the company of misleading shareholders and the London Stock Exchange. During GCM’s 2018 AGM, some activists glued themselves to the entrance of the building, preventing some shareholders from entering.

In Bangladesh on Monday 9th March, the Phulbari communities are demonstrating, under the banner of the National Committee of Bangladesh to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources and Power-Port, demanding that the Bangladeshi government take immediate legal action against the AIM-listed company. Communities in northwest Bangladesh will also be organising a long-march from Phulbari to Dinajpur to be held on 30th March . The long-march is  to demand an end of speculation about whether GCM can obtain a license, to remove the GCM Resources office from Phulbari, to ban coal mining and to take legal action against the company for fraud and harassment of Phulbari residents.

They maintain that GCM is responsible for the murder of three young boys and 200 injured in a 2006 demonstration. They had in December 2019 handed a memo to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (who is also Bangladesh’s Minister for Energy and Mineral Resources) via the UNO, asking her to take legal action against GCM immediately. As GCM had postponed AGM by habit of changing things at the last minute, seemingly to frustrate the plans of dissident shareholders, communities raged in Phulbari and in London.

Professor Anu Muhammad, the leader of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports of Bangladesh said:

“People’s resistance against GCM is still strong despite an environment of fear and surveillance. GCM’s fraudulent and illegal business must be stopped immediately by delisting it from the London Stock Exchange to stop its continuing manipulation and corrupt attempts at coal mining along with Chinese companies, its harassment of community leaders, and preparations for violent crimes against people and environment in the form of open cast coal mining and displacement.

Dr Rumana Hashem, the Chair of Phulbari Solidarity Coaltion and an organiser of the London protest says:

London-listed companies are required to hold AGMs within 15 months of each other, 14 months was up by 28th February. GCM has only announced the AGM on the 28th February, which is a rare occurrence in the London Stock Exchange. The Stock Exchange needs to investigate whether GCM is in breach of the law for giving only 7 working days to their shareholders to prepare.”

Dr Hashem adds, “People in Phulbari have lived under the threat of displacement, and with the trauma of the Phulbari killings for more than 13 years. The London Stock Exchange has continued to list and generate capital for this company, despite its total lack of any viable mining asset in Bangladesh. We are calling on the Bangladeshi government to categorically end the speculation, remove GCM’s office from Phulbari, launch legal action against them, and pressure the London Stock Exchange to finally delist this criminal and fraudulent company. It is time to end the suffering for the residents of Phulbari.”

GCM Resources (then ‘Asia Energy’) listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange in 2004, following the granting of a two year permit (license) from the Bangladesh Energy Department’s Bureau of Mineral Resource Development on 27 January 2004 for exploration and surveying of a 572 million tonne open cast coal mine at Phulbari in Dinajpur, Northwest Bangladesh. A Scheme of Development was submitted to the Government of Bangladesh in 2005 but has never received approval. The permit expired on 27 January 2006 and has not been renewed, yet the company has continued to sell shares and raise capital in London based on claims that a contract will be forthcoming. GCM Resources has no other assets or projects in its portfolio.

On 26 August 2006 three teenage boys were shot dead, and more than two hundred injured by paramilitary forces in a peaceful demonstration of 80,000 people against the mine.(5) Annual ‘Phulbari Day’ rallies have been held every year in the community and across Bangladesh, commemorating the deaths and protesting the company’s continued plans. Recently, 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. Lye demands 1billion$ as his compensation from the community representatives who stopped GCM.

In commenting on GCM’s contract, Bangladesh’s Deputy State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, Nasrul Hamid, stated to the daily Prothom Alo newspaper in August 2019 that:

Even in the absence of an agreement, GCM or Asia Energy is trading shares in London by providing information that coal would be extracted from Phulbari, which is false. The government has taken this into notice. The government is proceeding to take legal action against them .”

He asserted that the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s clear instructions are that the government has no plans to extract coal from Phulbari, and the future extraction of coal would only be considered if any advanced and environmental mining or coal burning technology emerged.

According to GCM’s 2019 annual report and its Regulatory New Service submissions to the London Stock Exchange, the company signed an MOU with Power Construction Corporation of China (PowerChina) in November 2018 to develop a 4,000MW power plant at Phulbari as part of the One Belt, One Road Initiative of the People’s Republic of China. In January 2019, the Power entered into a Joint Venture Agreement with the GCM for the first stage of development, leading to a hike in its share price, despite the lack of government approvals for the project.

This year on 3 February, the GCM Resources stated another RNS that it has secured a GBP1.2 million increase to its existing loan facility of GBP 2.3 million with Polo Resources Ltd, raising the total loan amount to GBP3.5 million. This announcement has helped increase GCM’s share sells on London Stock Exchange. Shares in GCM were trading 0.5% higher at 12.06p each in London after the RNS.7

Contact

To organise statements or interviews with any of the host organisations or case studies, contact:

Lydia James, London Mining Network: 07928443248, lydia@londonminingnetwork.org

Darren Gens, Phulbari Solidarity Group: 07309 556334, phulbarisolidaritygroup@gmail.com

Case studies and photos from protests in Bangladesh are available.

An updated press release will be available after the picket on Tuesday afternoon.

Video clips and photos from the protest will be available from 1pm on Tuesday 10 March.

Our Children Have Already Died – Correct Your Policy!

A letter of support to the Bristol amendment on climate and in solidarity with the vigil opposing 2045 net zero carbon date for the Church of England.

By Rumana Hashem

Hand-painted banner for victims of Phulbari shooting. Photocredit: Peter Marshall.

Three young lives were lost on 26 August in 2006 in a protest opposing coal mining and carbon emissions in northwest Bangladesh.  The children who have died were teenagers aged from 11 years to 18 years.

They were the residents of a green and peaceful town, called the Phulbari, that has turned into a town of uproar because a London-listed mining company wants to build an open-cast coal mine there.  In the face of Britain’s wrong policies on emissions, coal-crime and climate crisis, more than 80,000 people took strike action and marched across Phulbari in the Dinajpur district. The teenagers, Al-Amin (11 yo), Mohammad Salekin (13 yo), and Tarikul Islam (18 yo) were amongst many other young people who joined the march and were striking with their families and communities for a green planet.

Amin, Salekin and Tarikul were shot dead when the protest had nearly ended and people were to return home.  It was the paramilitary force who opened fire in favour of a British mining company, Asia Energy – thereafter, the Global Coal Management (GCM) Resources Plc.

The Global Coal Management plans to extract 572millions tons coal from Phulbari  and wants to build the project by immediately displacing 130, 000 people and polluting 14, 600 hectares of fertile land (1 hectare is equal to 2.471 acres or 10,000 square metres)  from a location that is Bangladesh’s only flood protected area.  For the people in the region, this project would mean losing their livelihood and identities because the mining would disperse the communities. It would impact upto 50,000 indigenous people from the area.

The families of the murdered youths search for peace in appreciation that the Bangladesh government will not let this project happen. The families and injured people in Phulbari bear the burns of the UK’s emissions and the climate crisis, though they do not know that it is the British government’s poor policy that enabled such killings in Phulbari.

Amin, Salekin and Tarikul’s families have not got a clue that England still allows similar projects, causing emissions across the UK and elsewhere. Their grief for and pain of losing loved ones are yet to heal.  Amin’s sister Hanifa told, recalling the memory of her little brother, that it was just before her wedding time that Hanifa has heard the news of young Amin’s death. Amin had never been to a strike before the UK Company, GCM, entered the town for mining. The grief, the emptiness, and disbelief remain in Hanifa’s voice as does the tears and pain in Salekin’s mum for 13 years. We hope that the Church of England can hear the cry of Amin’s and Salekin’s families.

In her tears, Salekin’s mum supports the cause of her lost child’s strike action. Salekin went to the protest with his uncle and took part in the strike because it was urgent to oppose GCM’s plans. Everyone has gone to protest in Phulbari. We stand in solidarity with them.

The deaths of Amin, Salekin and Tarikul are heart breaking.  The ballad of Phulbari is one of cruel climate injustice. My heart weeps as I write this letter of cruel murders of innocent children which I have witnessed in Phulbari. The children wanted to save their earth, to live, and play in their green play ground. They were taking strike action as coal mining would release carbon and would destroy their green land.

13 years on, despite the killings and brutal causalities, the UK government continues to make poor policies on emissions. The UK government let their mining companies, as GCM, to move ahead, to expand corrupt business and  sell shares for this coal-mining project on the London Stock Exchange. People on the ground have been led to believe that the project has been halt, though in reality the company operates with green signal from the UK’s National Contact Point. Britain let carbon emissions that would kill many more people across Britain and overseas.

Synod should make timely amendment to their net zero bill as necessary.

Please DON’T let more children die – End UK’s Wrong Policy on Emissions.

PRESS RELEASE : GCM AGM Postponed Due To Risk Of Protests

Tuesday, 17 December 2019, London, UK.

  • British mining company GCM Resources has postponed tomorrow’s London AGM due to security risk from protests.
  • In Phulbari, Bangladesh, protests today blocked roads demanding the Bangladesh government take immediate legal action against the company.
  • Phulbari UNO joined rally with community leaders and stated that the resistance movement in Phulbari is democratic and peaceful which demands attention of the government.
  • Bangladesh Deputy Energy Minister confirms that GCM has no valid license or asset in the country, and claims government will be taking legal action against them.

Phulbari Rally outside of UNO’s office in Phulbari on 17 Dec 2019. Photocredit: Biplob River Down

GCM Resources yesterday issued this statement postponing Wednesday’s AGM indefinitely due to the risk of protests threatening the security of the venue:

“The decision to seek to adjourn the AGM follows consultation with the venue over access and security issues, which has resulted in the venue being withdrawn as the location for the AGM.”

Loud protests had been organised by Phulbari Solidarity Group alongside a wide coalition of seven organisations at the AGM of the AIM listed British mining company GCM Resources Plc for the 10th consecutive year. Protesters planned to demand that GCM is de-listed from the London Stock Exchange as it has no viable asset to its name, and has not held a license for coal exploration or mining in Bangladesh since 2006. Inside the AGM, dissident shareholders would again dominate the meeting, accusing the company of misleading shareholders and the London Stock Exchange. Last year activists had glued themselves to the entrance of the AGM preventing some shareholders from entering.

Phulbari Rally outside of UNO’s office is joined by the UNO who came out of office and accepted the memorandum from the community leaders to be delivered to prime minister and energy minister of Bangladesh on 17 Dec 2019 . Photocredit: Biplob River Down

 

Meanwhile in Bangladesh, communities from Phulbari, Barapukuria and Dinajpur, many of whom are threatened with displacement by the planned mine, today demonstrated outside of the UNO (Phulbari District Office) and blocked the Nimtoli roundabout demanding that the Bangladesh government categorically end speculation on whether GCM can obtain a license, remove the GCM Resources office from Phulbari, and take legal action against the company for fraud and harassment of Phulbari residents.  Community leaders have handed a memorandum to Phulbari UNO, who has joined the rally himself and stated that “the protesters are peaceful and the movement is justified and democratic”.

The community memo also demands an immediate withdrawal of all arbitrary cases against 19 community leaders, which Gary Lye has filed in 2014 by claiming that the community leaders must pay him 100 crore Taka, Bangladeshi money (GBP 1 billion), as he felt insulted and faced reputational damage when community activists stopped him from re-entering the township. Protesters maintain that GCM is responsible for the murder of three young boys and 220 injured in a 2006 demonstration. They have handed a memorandum to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (who is also Bangladesh’s Minister for Energy and Mineral Resources) via the UNO, asking her to take legal action against GCM immediately.

Professor Anu Muhammad, the leader of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports of Bangladesh said:

“People’s resistance against GCM is still strong despite an environment of fear and surveillance. GCM’s fraud and illegal business must be stopped immediately by de-listing it from the London Stock Exchange to stop its continuing manipulation and corrupt attempts at coal mining along with Chinese companies, its harassment of community leaders, and preparations for violent crimes against people and environment in the form of open cast coal mining and displacement.”

Dr Rumana Hashem, Chair of Phulbari Solidarity Group, who organised the London protests says:

“GCM’s postponement of their AGM shows that they are running scared from activists and academics who would expose the fraudulent nature of their London listing and trading on the LSE. People in Phulbari have lived under the threat of displacement, and with the trauma of the Phulbari killings for more than 13 years. Yet the London Stock Exchange has continued to list and generate capital for this company despite its total lack of any viable mining asset in Bangladesh. We are calling on the Bangladeshi government to categorically end the speculation, remove GCM’s office from Phulbari, launch legal action against them, and pressure the London Stock Exchange to finally de-list this criminal and fraudulent company. It is time to end the suffering for the residents of Phulbari.”

 

Phulbari Rally against GCM attended by Phulbari Labours and Indigenous Workers’ leader, Hamidul, on 17 Dec 2019.  Hamidul is a victim of two arbitrary cases filed by Gary Lye in 2016. One of these charges claim that Hamidul must pay 1 billion$ for Lye’s reputational damage in 2014.  Photocredit: Sanjit Prasad Gupta.

 

GCM Resources (then ‘Asia Energy’) listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange in 2004, following the granting of a two year permit (license) from the Bangladesh Energy Department’s Bureau of Mineral Resource Development on 27 January 2004 for exploration and surveying of a 572 million tonne open cast coal mine at Phulbari in Dinajpur, Northwest Bangladesh. A Scheme of Development was submitted to the Government of Bangladesh in 2005 but has never received approval. The permit expired on 27 January 2006 and has not been renewed, yet the company has continued to sell shares and raise capital in London based on claims that a contract will be forthcoming. GCM Resources has no other assets or projects in its portfolio.

 

On 26 August 2006 three teenage boys were shot dead, and more than two hundred injured by paramilitary forces in a peaceful demonstration of 80,000 people against the mine. Annual ‘Phulbari Day’ rallies have been held every year in the community and across Bangladesh, commemorating the deaths and protesting the company’s continued plans. Recently, GCM’s CEO Gary Lye has filed multiple cases against 19 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.

In August 2019 the Deputy State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, Nasrul Hamid, made this statement to the daily Prothom Alo newspaper:

“Even in the absence of an agreement, GCM or Asia Energy is trading shares in London by providing information that coal would be extracted from Phulbari, which is false. The government has taken this into notice. The government is proceeding to take legal action against them .”

He stated that the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s clear instructions are that the government has no plans to extract coal from Phulbari, and the future extraction of coal would only be considered if any advanced and environmental mining or coal burning technology emerged.

According to GCM’s 2019 annual report and its Regulatory New Service submissions to the London Stock Exchange, the company signed an MOU with Power Construction Corporation of China (PowerChina) in November 2018 to develop a 4,000MW power plant at Phulbari as part of the One Belt, One Road Initiative of the People’s Republic of China. In January 2019, the Power entered into a Joint Venture Agreement with the GCM for the first stage of development, leading to a hike in its share price, despite the lack of government approvals for the project.

      Phulbari Rally outside of UNO’s office on 17 Dec 2019. Photocredit: Sanjit Prasad Gupta.

GCM is not only selling shares on Phulbari’s name in London, the company is one of a string of London listed mining companies linked to the murder and ‘massacre’ of protesters, including Lonmin, Glencore, Kazakhmys, ENRC, Essar, Vedanta, Anglo Gold Ashanti, African Barrick Gold and Monterrico Metals. They have recently announced three new strategic partnerships with two Chinese firms – China Nonferrous Metal Industry’s Foreign Engineering and Construction Company (NFC) and Power Construction Corporation of China (PowerChina), and a Bangladesh based company DG Infratech Pte Ltd. to develop the mine and conspiring in Bangladesh.

Wednesday’s London protests were to be co-hosted by the UK Committee to Protect the Natural Resources of Bangladesh, Foil Vedanta, London Mining Network, Global Justice Rebellion, Extinction Rebellion International Solidarity Network, Christian Climate Action and Reclaim the Power.

 

For further information, contact:

Lydia James: <contact@londonminingnetwork.org>

Phulbari Rally outside of UNO’s office on 17 Dec 2019. Photocredit: Sanjit Prasad Gupta

#ExposeGCM  #ProtestCoalMining  #PhulbariResistance

 

 

Expose GCM: Protest Coal-Mining

Picket at Global Coal Management’s AGM

Global Coal Management (GCM) Resources Plc. is a London-based AIM-listed extractive company that wants to build a massive open-pit coal mine by forcibly displacing 130,000 families of farmers in Phulbari. They do not hold a valid contract with Bangladesh but they are selling shares on Phulbari coal project’s name. The company, previously known as Asia Energy, has been hotly resisted by locals for its fatal business policy in northwest Bangladesh. Three young people, Amin, Salekin and Tariqul, were shot dead and over two hundred injured when paramilitary force opened fire in a demonstration of 80,000 people who marched against destructive plans by GCM in 2006 in Phulbari. Following a peoples’ verdict, Bangladeshi government has declined contracts with GCM.

Bangladesh government has reiterated that the Phulbari project is unlikely to go ahead and that GCM will not be given permission to return to Phulbari or northwest Bangladesh for coal extraction. Bangladesh government has overturned their right to mine in Bangladesh more than a decade ago.

Despite no valid license, GCM continues to sell shares on London Stock Exchange.  GCM recently announced three new strategic partnerships with two Chinese firms – China Nonferrous Metal Industry’s Foreign Engineering and Construction Company (NFC) and Power Construction Corporation of China (PowerChina), and a Bangladesh based company DG Infratech Pte Ltd. to develop the mine and conspiring in Bangladesh. If the mine is built, it would destroy 14,600 hectares of highly cultivable land in northwest Bangladesh. It would pose threats to clean water resources for as many as 220,000 people, and would leave devastative impact on one of the world’s largest mangrove forests and UNESCO heritage site, the Sundarbans. Why does the British government allow this?

Bangladesh’s Deputy-State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources , Nasrul Hamid, has recently stated that the government is considering legal action against GCM because “the company is selling shares on the basis of false information. There is no contract between the government and GCM for mining in Bangladesh”.

GCM will hold their AGM in London on 18 December during the month of the climate summit #COP25.

                              We said: WE WILL EXPOSE THEM & STOP DESTRUCTION.

WE WILL PICKET AT GCM’s AGM! JOIN US.

When? 9:30AM-12:30PM, Wednesday 18 December

Where? 4 Hamilton Place, London W1J 7BQ.

Come along with your friends, and bring along jolly carols and lots of noisy instruments. Confirm your participation here: https://www.facebook.com/events/533400950849952/

 

Further information:

Global Coal Management is not only selling shares on Phulbari’s name in London, the company is one of a string of London listed mining companies linked to the murder and ‘massacre’ of protesters, including Lonmin, Glencore, Kazakhmys, ENRC, Essar, Vedanta, Anglo Gold Ashanti, African Barrick Gold and Monterrico Metals.  GCM has been allegedly involved in abuse and harassment of opponents of the proposed Phulbari mine. Media reports on the death of Nasrin Huq, the former executive director of Action Aid, revealed that Huq was killed brutally in her car park because of her strong opposition to the project.[i] GCM’s CEO, Gary Lye, has continued to abuse local opponents of the project. Lye has filed multiple arbitrary cases against 26 frontline local leaders who spoke against mining. This cannot go on.

We must stop them. We will picket outside of GCM’s AGM.

Inside the AGM, dissident shareholders will dominate the meeting, accusing the company of misleading shareholders and the London Stock Exchange. We demand that GCM is de-listed from the London Stock Exchange as it has no viable asset to its name, and has not held a contract for coal exploration or mining in Bangladesh since 2006.

Meanwhile, communities in Phulbari will demonstrate outside of the UNO – the Phulbari sub-District Office- on Tuesday 17 December. Communities will follow on from their October rally, demanding the government in Bangladesh must remove GCM’s office in Phulbari and take legal action against GCM immediately.

In London PSG protesters will move from the AGM to the Bangladesh High Commission, where we will submit a memorandum to the Ambassador, Ms Saida Muna Tasneem, echoing the demands of the Phulbari community that government categorically end speculation on whether GCM can obtain a license, remove the GCM Resources office from Phulbari, and take legal action against the company for harassment of Phulbari residents.

We will march together after the AGM at 4 Hamilton Place to Bangladesh High Commission at: 28 Queen’s Gate, South Kensington, London SW7 5JA.

 

#ExposeGCM #ProtestCoalMining

 

 

Phulbari Solidarity Action At Coal Mining Company: Trial Verdict

Amy, Angela and Shulamit glued to the entrance: The protest last year at the AGM of Global Coal Management at 33 Cavendish Road, London. Photo: Paul Dudman, PSG.

 COURT DISMISSED TRESPASSING CHARGES, ACTIVISTS RECEIVED CONDITIONAL DISCHARGE  

  • Climate activists convicted of aggravated trespassing and criminal damage-related offences for gluing themselves to the entrance of a building used by criminal GCM have received 12-month conditional discharge.
  • The judge decided not to charge activists for trespassing but charged them of criminal damage of £350 each after he accepted they were motivated by the cause of “human rights”.
  • Three women pleaded not guilty at the City of London Magistrate’s Court and said that they “will take it to High Court” and “will stop GCM”.

 

Three transnational women climate activists convicted of 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 murderous coal mining company Global Coal Management (GCM), have received conditional discharge.

The activists who stood trial on Tuesday the 22nd October took part in an action in solidarity with Phulbari protesters who were protesting against an immense open cast coal mine to be built in northwest Bangladesh, where GCM wants to construct a 4000 MW power plant by immediately displacing as many as 130, 000 people from the region.

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 judge suggested initially that all charges should be dismissed but the women’s defence barristers felt ethically obliged to tell the judge that he had misunderstood the criminal damage charge and that he was wrong to dismiss it. The activists were then found guilty of criminal damage of £350 each.

Angela Ditchfield, 41, Shulamit Morris-Evans, 23 and Amy Pritchard, 34, were all given a 12-month conditional discharge, ordered to pay £350 each in costs and a £20 surcharge. Deputy district judge Paul Booty said: ‘The act of glueing oneself to an object was thought through and the possibility of damage could not have slipped your minds, therefore such an act was reckless.’

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

Angela Ditchfield, a mother-of-two teenage boys and Kings Hedges Green Party candidate, Amy Pritchard, an activist at Extinction Rebellion London, and Shulamit Morris-Evans, a school teacher and a member of Extinction Rebellion Youth pleaded not guilty. They told the City of London magistrates that the protest last December 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.

Although GCM do not have any valid stake, they are aggressively moving to build the coal project in Phulbari. They have 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. On 4th September GCM Resources have signed yet another agreement with DG Infratech Pte Ltd, a Bangladesh based firm to get a deal with Bangladesh government.

Ms Ditchfield, Morris-Evans, and Pritchard glued themselves to the entrance of the AGM’s London venue before it started in the early morning, disrupting the event 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.

The protesters outside of GCM’s AGM last year on 28 December 2018. Photo: Golam Rabbani

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.

Ms Pritchard of Extinction Rebellion Youth, who blocked GCM’s AGM, says,

“The story of this coal project demonstrates clearly the almost unbelievable global exploitation which continues to be based in this City. I will continue to act in defiance of the domination of vulnerable countries, communities and Indigenous peoples at the front-line of climate change. I call on others to consider their power and privilege and do the same.”

Ms Ditchfield who pleaded not guilty and is part of an activist group Christian Climate Action, says,

“As a Christian, I believe Jesus calls us to come alongside people who are oppressed and in need, just like he did. I stand with the brave Bangladeshi activists who have been resisting this project for more than a decade. Successfully so far, yet the company continues to take investment from HSBC and other shareholders to try and pressure the government of Bangladesh to ignore local people and change their mind. Thirteen years ago GCM allegedly paid paramilitary guards to shoot at a protest of 80,000 people against the mine in 2006. Three teenagers were killed, the youngest 13 years old. 200 others were injured for peaceful protest against the theft of their homeland for foreign profit. The GCM director and representatives of the London Stock Exchange laughed when presented with this news. “As a mother of a 12yo and a 14yo, I have to stand with the families left still resisting this company which killed their children and seeks to bring so much more destruction and death through displacing communities and through climate change. One UK Bangladeshi activist recently asked me: “how can people do such things?” – destroying the lives of whole communities in the only flood-safe land in the region. I have no answer”.

The protesters outside of GCM’s AGM chant slogans last year on 28 December 2018. Photo: Golam Rabbani

 

Angela Ditchfield and Amy Pritchard said that they “will block GCM again” and that they “will take the charge of criminal damage to High Court “ because they “have not intended to cause any damage”.

Ms Morris-Evans, a school teacher and the third defendant who glued herself to the entrance in support of Phulbari says,

“To attempt to build a coal mine when we are at such a pitch of crisis – a crisis engendered by our excessive use of fossil fuels – is utter madness. If we do not cease to burn fossil fuels we risk entering into uncontrollable spirals of climate change which could ultimately endanger the survival of our own species along with countless others. We cannot stand by and watch as others plunge our world into disaster for the sake of short-term gain.”

Dr Rumana Hashem who directs Phulbari Solidarity Group and was present at the 2006 demonstration in Phulbari, says,

“I appreciate it that women who have intervened to obstruct GCM’s way of criminal activities are the dedicated earth defenders. My heartfelt thanks to Angela,  Amy and Schulamit for risking their bodies to hold GCM to account. I have witnessed GCM’s violence in Bangladesh, heard the cries of the victims’ families 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 Phulbari and livelihood of tens of thousands of people. GCM’s CEO Gary Lye has been targeting local opponents. They are a fraudulent company. They are selling shares in London without a valid license for business in Phulbari. They must be held to account.”

The protest outside of GCM’s AGM held on Friday 28 December 2018. Photo: Golam Rabbani

Baroness Natalie Bennett who stands in support of protests against the company says,

“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. 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.”

A collation of 12 climate organisations, called the Phulbari Solidarity Alliance, have recently 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 respond to the call.

 

Further news:

Report on British Bangla News, 23 October 2019: http://www.britishbanglanews.com/court-dismissed-phulbari-activists-of-trespassing%ef%bb%bf/ 

Brief report by London Metro, 23 October 2019: https://www.metro.news/xr-activists-convicted-of-glue-protest-at-coal-firm/1769161/

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:

Solidarity Action to Save the Sundarbans

This Thursday at 11am we are marching to the Bangladesh High Commission to tell the Bangladesh government to stop the destructive Rampal coal-power plants and all industrial constructions near the Sundarbans, the worlds largest mangrove forests. We will be coming together with the UK’s Committee to Protect Natural Resources of Bangladesh, Global Justice Rebellion, Reclaim the Power and many more climate activist groups and global citizens concerned to the destruction of the Sundarbans.


The Sundarbans mangrove forests are the world’s largest mangrove forests and an invaluable ecosystem along Bangladesh’s coast. The Sundarbans are located at the Indian-Bangladeshi border in south-west Bangladesh. The mangrove is home to many rare animals and species, especially to the rare Bengal Tigers. The word ‘Sundar’ stands for bounty and ‘Bans’ for forests. These bountiful forests face destruction.

A Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company Ltd is planning a dangerous project. A joint venture between the National Thermal Power Company of India and the Bangladesh Power Development Board are building a 1,320 MW coal-power plant in Rampal within 14 kilometers of the Sundarbans which will kill the rare animals and destroy the mangrove forests. There are 154 other industrial constructions planned in the area. The detrimental aspects of the project were highlighted by national and international experts. In July 2019, the 43rd session of the UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee has asked the government to halt all constructions.

Despite UNESCO’s recommendation to halt constructions, the Bangladesh government is going ahead with 154 industrial constructions to be built for the power plant in the vicinity. Climate activists in Bangladesh who raised voices against the destruction of the Sundarbans faced incredible repression by the state security forces.

We call on the Bangladesh High Commission for an urgent intervention into the government’s decision to implement the destructive Rampal coal-power plant and all industrial constructions.

JOIN US! SAVE The SUNDARBANS!

 

                                               11am on Thursday 17 October 2019

                                                Bangladesh High Commission

                                               28 Queens Gate, SW7 5JA, London.

(nearest tube stations: Gloucester Road and Kensington)

Confirm your participation via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/2617889908297326/

Come in animal-friendly costumes, bring along lots of friends, noisy instruments, chants and handmade placards!!  

If you have a question, contact us on phone: 07714 288221, or email: phulbarisolidaritygroup@gmail.com,

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

PRESS RELEASE 23rd August 2019

Phulbari Day Black Vigil and protest at London Stock Exchange, 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 London Stock Exchange 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 Tarikul 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 Tarikul during Black vigil at LSE. Friday, 23 Aug 2019. Photocredit: Fossil Free UK.

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.

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 Al Amin (11), Mohammad Salekin (13) and Tarikul  Islam (18) 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 Tarikul 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.

Rumana Hashem, an eye witness to the Phulbari shooting who survived the vioence in 2006, describes the brutality that GCM’s Bangladesh subsidiary Asia Energy has been involved in Phulbari. Black Vigil at London Stock Exchange. 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 explains to journalists and police why it is legitimate to blockade the London Stock Exchange. Friday 23 Aug 2019. Phulbari Solidarity Black Vigil at London Stock Exchange. 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.

The vigil was attended by the deputy leader of the Green Party in England and Wales – Amelia Womack, 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.

Rumana Hashem and Miriam Rose of Phulbari Solidarity Coalition led the protest at the main entrance of the London Stock Exchange, London. Friday, 23 Aug 2019. Photo credit: Paul Dudman

Akhter Khan from the Committee to Protect 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:

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

A short film by Helen Brews is accessible in this link: https://youtu.be/jTBnAWl_bVQ

  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

 

Vibrant Protests Held at HSBC AGM

Protesters Demand that the Bank Stops Fuelling War and Climate Crisis

By Raaj Manik

 

Last Friday Birmingham witnessed colourful and powerful protests by an alliance of anti-militarism, climate groups and pro-Palestinian rights activists who have joined forces to demand that banking giant HSBC ends its complicity in climate change, military occupation and war.

 

In the morning of 12th April, protesters gathered outside the International Convention Centre at 8 Centenary Square in Birmingham where HSBC’s AGM was being held. Under the slogan “No War, No Warming” a loud group of activists occupied the front entrance of the lavish building to speak out against the bank’s involvement in the climate crisis and militarised conflict around the planet. Activists said that HSBC has poured £43bn into fossil fuels, whilst investing over £830m in arms companies in the last three years alone. They accused the bank being involved in syndicated loans to the arms sector exceeding £18.9bn.

 

Protests outside HSBC AGM was held in Birmingham on 12 April 2019

There have already been campaigning successes, with anti-militarism and pro-Palestinian rights groups pushing HSBC to divest from Israel’s biggest arms manufacturer, Elbit Systems, last December and climate groups winning tighter restrictions on the bank’s coal policy last April though, protesters say that HSBC’s policies, lending practices and exposure give cause for an escalation in action and demands.

 

Lise Masson, a climate campaigner at BankTrack said: “For too long now big banks like HSBC have been pouring billions into climate-wrecking fossil fuels every year. HSBC is one of the biggest fossil fuel financiers, supporting projects that not only damage our climate but also ravage frontline communities across the world. HSBC needs to massively step up its climate ambition, concretely that means ending its financial support for all fossil fuels.”

 

Huda Ammori, Campaigns Officer at Palestine Solidarity Campaign, stated that: “Despite divesting from Elbit Systems following campaigning pressure, HSBC continues to invest in companies supplying weapons and military technology to Israel such as Caterpillar, which makes the armoured bulldozers used to demolish Palestinian homes and communities. Our message today is clear – HSBC must end its complicity in war crimes and military occupation, and cut ties with all companies that profit from the violent repression of the Palestinian people.”

 

Protests outside HSBC AGM was held in Birmingham on Friday 12 April 2019.

As research shows that a heating climate has been a contributing factor behind wars in the Middle East, protesters assert that a cycle of war and warming increasingly binds anti-militarism and climate campaigners to the same cause. The groups highlight that in Nigeria, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere, oil, gas and coal are being pulled from the ground under the watchful gaze of state-military and militias.

 

HSBC also continues to finance new coal-fired power plants in Bangladesh, Vietnam and Indonesia.  All three countries are on the front line of climate change and have significant renewable energy potential, a crucial tool to sustainable poverty eradication.

 

Bangladesh National Committee protest outside HSBC AGM in Birmingham on Friday 12 April 2019

Akhter Khan Masroor, Member Secretary of NCBD, UK said: “Whilst coal mines funded by HSBC destroyed the ecology and livelihoods in Colombia and Russia, HSBC’s new investment in coal business in the Delta region is a threat to livelihoods in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam. Bangladesh is the most vulnerable country to climate change. As HSBC’s coal financing policy for Bangladesh will push it into more danger, we demand they do not invest in coal in Bangladesh and in the delta region. We do not need dirty coal energy. HSBC must also stop arming the Israeli state that is killing the people of Palestine.”

 

Protests against HSBC’s financing of war and climate change have been coordinated by groups including 350.org, War on Want, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, BankTrack, and Bangladeshi diaspora groups NCBD UK and Phulbari Solidarity Group. Campaigners say they will continue to lobby and protest against HSBC until it divests fully from the fossil fuel industry and the arms trade.

 

School strikers protests outside HSBC AGM in Birmingham on Friday 12 April 2019

Previously, climate and anti-militarism groups have challenged HSBC on separate terms, but have now come together in a collective show of force to demand that the bank severs ties with companies that are at the root of war crimes and global warming.

 

Read further news:

Our house is on fire but its business as usual at the HSBC AGM say the activists who took action to get HSBC to #stopfundingdestruction : http://bit.ly/2IyWXN0 

BDS Victory: HSBC Divests From Elbit
https://waronwant.org/media/bds-victory-hsbc-divests-elbit

HSBC Accused of Hypocrisy for Coal Finance Ban That Excludes Countries Most Vulnerable to Climate Change
https://www.desmog.co.uk/2018/10/16/hsbc-accused-hypocrisy-coal-finance-ban-excludes-countries-most-vulnerable-climate-change

HSBC has recently announced it has appetite to finance coal in Bangladesh and in the delta region, despite research showing that pollution caused by coal expansion in South-East Asia will cause tens of thousands of deaths.

Add your name to the petition with protesters calling on the bank to change its policies with respect to finance for fossil fuel projects and weapon manufacturers: https://350.org/hsbc/#petition 

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. Photocredit: 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 14,660 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 Rumana Hashem, the Coordinator of 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, Phulbari Solidarity Group.

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. Photocredit: Paul Dudman, Phulbari Solidarity

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 Phulbari Solidarity Group reads out a petition by 134 community leaders from Phulbari. Friday, 28 December 2018, 33 Cavendish Square, London. Photocredit: 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 Phulbari Solidarity GroupReclaim the Power and the Committee to Protect Resources of Bangladesh – UK branch of the Bangladesh National Committee. They were joined by Foil Vedanta, London Mining Network, Extinction Rebellion, 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. Copyright: Ian J Bray, Quaker Peace.

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.