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

 

 

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. 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Asia Energy/GCM Must Stop Unethical Business In London Stock Exchange

In support of Phulbari communities, a noise demo and blockade was held outside GCM’s AGM at 33 Cavendish Square in London on Friday 28 December 2018. Copyright: Golam Rabbani/PSG.

Phulbari Verdict Must Be Fully Implemented

The below statement was signed by 134 community leaders from 50 communities around Phulbari, objecting to GCM’s proposed open cast coal mine. It was meant to be presented by dissident shareholders to GCM’s board of Directors at the AGM. The original letter from the community was  written in Bangla. PSG has translated the statement in English language for greater readership.

“The killer and corrupt extractive company, Asia Energy, thereafter Global Coal Management Resources  (GCM) , hold their AGM to bluff shareholders and to sketch out vicious plans for further human rights violation and to destroy livelihood  in Phulbari and northwest Bangladesh. The company has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a Chinese company and is trying to reach new agreements with various other companies to develop a giant open cast coal mine in Bangladesh to destroy Phulbari, Birampur, Parbotipur, Nobabganj and Boropukuria chapters.

Despite ban of Phulbari project, the company is selling shares in London Stock Exchange. This is outrageous. GCM’s do not have any business in Phulbari. They do not have license to undertake business in Bangladesh. That a company is selling fake shares in the name of Bangladesh’s Phulbari project abroad is an embarrassment for the nation. We see this is a humiliation for all of us. Such act should be legally challenged in international court.

We are aware that GCM’s directors continue to lobby Bangladesh’s corrupt ministers, politicians and elite businessmen. The company continues to harass local people and indigenous farmers. GCM has filed utterly false and multiple cases against 26 community organisers and frontline activists in the region.  Now they are selling shares in the name of Phulbari in other countries. Bangladesh government should denounce this utterly unethical act of GCM. Government must not allow this company to re-enter the region.

The Phulbari Verdict 2006 was written with our blood. We will never let GCM or any other company to enter Phulbari ever. We say loud and clearly that the construction of the coal mine in the region will never be possible. Not in our region. Not in our lifetime.

We call upon the government that this company be banned for ever.  We express our total disapproval of and outrage to GCM’s ongoing unethical and corrupt activities. We demand full implementation of the 6-points demand of the Phulbari Verdict.

We the undersigned,

Amar Chand Gupta, Bablu Rai,  Muahmmad Murtaja Sarkar Manik,

Sondhya Rani Rai, and 130 more community representatives.”

 

The above statement is translated by Rumana Hashem. The scanned copy of the original Bangla version of the community statement and the list of signatures are attached.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A protest outside GCM’s AGM held on Friday 28 December 2018 in central London. Copyright: Golam Rabbani

Climate Change Dissenters Blocked Five London Bridges

Phulbari Solidarity Stands in Solidarity with Extinction Rebellion

By Paul Dudman

 

Westminster Bridge blocked by Extinction Rebellion on 17 November 2018. Photocredit: Rumana Hashem

Yesterday we have witnessed an extra-ordinary Rebellion Day in London where climate change dissenters closed down iconic bridges in the city. Despite arrests and police barricades, five bridges in central London were closed down by concerned, disobedient and non-violent civilians, who gathered in the city under the banner of Extinction Rebellion, a platform committed to “Fight For Life”.

 

Blocked Westminster Bridge on 17 November 2018. Photocredit: Rumana Hashem

From the morning 10am through late afternoon 5pm on the Rebellion Day more than 6,000 people have occupied five bridges in central London “to raise the alarm on the climate and ecological crisis – and to put pressure on the Government to come clean on the fact that there is a climate emergency”. A press release by the Extinction Rebellion notes “This is the first time in living memory that a protest group has intentionally and deliberately blocked the five iconic bridges of central London”. The blocked bridges include Southwark, Blackfriars, Waterloo, Westminster and Lambeth. Police have put signal blockers in place to prevent live streaming. There have been 22 confirmed arrests of protestors. People have willingly put themselves at risk of arrest and imprisonment to ensure that this cause is brought to the public’s attention.

 

Rebellion Day witness at Westminster Bridge on 17 November 2018. Photocredit: Rumana Hashem

We were there in Westminster Bridge with full support from the Bangladesh National Committee and Phulbari Solidarity Group to the rebels. At the end of the blockade an Extinction Assembly was held featuring six voices from six nations from the global South affected by climate breakdown.

 

The voices include Raki Ap of Free West Papua Campaign, Rumana Hashem of Phulbari Solidarity Group- Bangladesh, Mawukofi Klu of Pan-Afrikan Reparations Coalition in Europe, and representatives from Ecuador, India, Kenya, Ghana and Mongolia.

 

The Phulbari Solidarity Group declared solidarity with the Extinction Rebellion on the Rebellion Day. Rumana Hashem, the founder of the Phulbari Solidarity, who attended the Assembly at the Westminster Bridge, said that: the ongoing civil disobedience to decarbonise our lifestyle and to protect our planet from criminal extractive companies and governments was long- overdue. Rumana gave her witness to the climate crime committed by a London-based mining company in Bangladesh.

 

Rebellion Day witness by Rumana Hashem in Westminster Bridge on 17 Nov 2018. Photocredit: Peter Marshall

She stated by addressing a passionate crowd that:

I’m bearing witness to the killings of three people and the destruction of green land, rivers and homes of thousands of peaceful people in Bangladesh, perpetrated by a British mining company for 12 years. An AIM-listed London-based multinational company, Global Coal Resources Management plans to build a massive open-cast coal mine in northwest Bangladesh, in Phulbari. Original research by independent researchers shows that if the mine is built at least 130, 000 people would be immediately displaced, polluting water sources of as many as 220,000 people. It will destroy over 14,000 hecters of land in the country’s most fertile agricultural region, where most people have land-based livelihoods. It would contribute to catastrophic climate change by supplying coal burning power stations. It would threaten the Sundarbans – one of the world’s largest remaining mangrove forests and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

 

In return Bangladesh govt would gain nothing but economic exploitation. According to the proposed deal, the British company would extract coal for 30 years, govt of Bangladesh would get 6 percent royalty and the company would own 94 percent of the extracted coal. Moreover, the company would enjoy a 9 years tax holiday and after 30 years the company would own all of whatever coal would be remaining in the Phulbari coal-bed reserve.

 

The company, previously known as Asia Energy, has been hotly resisted by locals for its fatal business policy. On 26 August in 2006, over 80,000 farmers marched in Phulbari where three people were shot dead and over 200 injured when paramilitary troops fired on a massive demonstration. I was present there. I have witnessed the bloodshed; I saw people’s stomach coming out right on the street. So we’ve blocked roads, bridges, and railway in the region. All entries to the region were closed down for a week. Following on the shooting, Bangladesh government has cancelled all contracts with Global Coal Management. We’ve put a halt to the project.

 

Westminster Bridge on 17 November 2018. Photocredit: Rumana Hashem

This shows that civil disobedience works. It is required in historically specific context. When government fails, we need to take control in our hands. We need to act to save our lives and our planet. We would not occupy bridges and roads for ever though. We ought to take control of our streets at times to make the governments take steps to prevent crimes.

 

In Bangladesh, we said, “No fracking, invest to save the planet”. But that is not enough. The London-based company is still aggressively moving on to get a new deal with the government. They continue to breach law. They have been harassing indigenous people. 26 frontline activists have been faced with multiple arbitrary cases filed by the company in 2016. We asked the UK government and political leaders to use their influence to stop the Global Coal Management, and to act immediately to prevent climate crimes. But the UK government failed to act.

 

We’ve submitted three reports to the Joint Committee for Human Rights Enquiry into Human Rights and Business in 2009.  We’ve placed a joint OECD complaint to the UK National Contact Point in 2013, and I have given many witnesses. But no action was taken against the company. The Parliament failed to print the witness statement that I gave for their annual report in 2009. They said that they couldn’t print the witness due to financial hardship. The parliament wanted to save printing cost. Instead of publishing my report, the Joint Committee has published a response from the Global Coal Management in their annual report in 2009!

 

Rebels on Rebellion Day on 17 Nov 2018. Photocredit: Peter Marshall

Rumana also said that Bangladesh is at the frontline of climate change. We have reached a juncture when preventing climate change has become urgent. We want a fair commitment from the UK to stop coal based power plants and corporate grabbing in the name of development in Bangladesh and the UK. We call on the government for ensuring renewable energy and social justice without delay.

 

She concluded by saying:

This Rebellion Day is, to me, a beginning of a much needed social movement that not only challenges the criminal inaction of the ecocidal governments but also a way to connect with each other over struggles in the global South and the global North to make our planet habitable for all. I stand in solidarity with the Extinction Rebellion on this Rebellion Day.

 

 

The crowd expressed solidarity with the struggles in Bangladesh and other countries including Ecuador, Ghana, India, Kenya, Mongolia where British mining companies undertake projects violating human rights and causing climate change.

 

Solidarity in blocked Westminster Bridge on 17 November 2018. Photocredit: Rumana Hashem

The Rebellion Day has ended by a treeplanting ceremony in the Parliament Square, with more than 3K Extinction Rebellion protestors present. The rebels planted three trees in the centre – plum, apple and evergreen – while singing a sufi song called “Always in Love”.

The Extinction Rebellion was launched on 31st October and has fast grown.  Its branches have spread across 28 countries while London remains the centre of the rebels. Supports to Extinction Rebellion are rapidly growing. The Extinction Rebellion demands that:

 

  1.  The Government must tell the truth about the climate and wider ecological emergency, reverse inconsistent policies and work alongside the media to communicate with citizens.
  2. The Government must enact legally binding policy measures to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and to reduce consumption levels.
  3. A national Citizen’s Assembly to oversee the changes, as part of creating a democracy fit for purpose.

Blockade on Rebellion Day in Westminster Bridge on 17 Nov 2018 Photocredit: Rumana Hashem

Read the Extinction Rebellion Declaration here: https://rebellion.earth/declaration/

Please visit the Rebellion Day Facebook page for further information and news about the blockades: https://www.facebook.com/events/1758991460816073/ 

For Photos/videos visit: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/1m1v7Cs8JFkDM1gHp45OF-NwwhLzPZJO8

Also pictures by Peter Marshall are available for editorial use from Alamy. Westminster Bridge pictures at https://www.alamy.com/news/newsresults.aspx…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Credits for most photos used in this report belongs to Rumana Hashem, except for those indicated by Peter Marshall. The photos are free to use but please acknowledge the photocredit, thanks.

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.

 

Call out – JOIN Protest at Vedanta’s Last London AGM on 1st October!

Monday 1st October, 2-5 pm Lincoln Centre, Lincoln Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3ED

On 1st October Vedanta will hold their last AGM in London before de-listing from the London Stock Exchange, under pressure from MPs and activists following the Thoothukudi massacre in Tamil Nadu May.

 

At this final AGM, Foil Vedanta will be celebrating the notable victory of Vedanta’s de-listing (which seriously curtails their corporate ambitions), and the success of grassroots activism which has shut down Vedanta’s operations in Goa, Tuticorin and Niyamgiri, with a carnival theme.

 

Please join  kick Vedanta out of London protest once and for all!

 

Bring drums, whistles and colourful flags and clothes!

 

Monday 1st October, 2-5 pm Lincoln Centre, Lincoln Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3ED

 

Decry the complicity of the City of London in Vedanta’s corporate massacre of 13 environmental protesters at Thoothukudi in May, the latest in a long history of corporate murders and massacres of activists by London mining companies.

Vedanta’s exit from London is in fact a ‘divorce of convenience’ for the City, who have totally failed to regulate Vedanta, or any other criminal mining company to this day.

 

We will also be releasing our report ‘Vedanta’s Billions: Regulatory failure, environment and human rights’ – which gives a comprehensive account of the company’s crimes at all of its operations, and the City of London’s complicity, on Thursday 27th Septmber, before the AGM.

 

On 1st October the company will also sign contracts for 41 new oil and gas blocks in India, where their subsidiary Cairn India (part of Vedanta Ltd) have already been using unconventional extraction methods (fracking) in Rajasthan.

We must hold them to account before they run away!

 

Please join the facebook event if you are able to attend!

#KickVedanta #BanSterlite #BringAnilAgarwal2Justice 

 

For further information about Vedanta, read a latest report here: Vedanta’s Billions- Regulatory failure, environment and human rights

:http://www.foilvedanta.org/news/vedantas-billions-regulatory-failure-environment-and-human-rights-report-released/