We Call on the Bangladesh Government to Implement Phulbari Verdict, Take Legal Actions Against GCM Resources, and End Coal Power Now!

Memorandum of 15th Phulbari Day Remembrance Rally, 26 August 2021

Bangladesh High Commission, London

28 Queens Gate, SW7 5JA.

We are here as transnational climate justice campaigners, representatives of Phulbari communities from Northwest Bangladesh, and anti-racist and anti-mining activists, to express our concern about the delay in implementation of the Phulbari Verdict, the banning of coal mining and coal-power in Bangladesh.

This 26th August marks the 15th anniversary of the Phulbari killings when three young people were shot dead and more than two hundred injured during a non-violent demonstration of 80,000 people who marched against coal mining in Phulbari and the displacement of 130,000 people from the region by London-listed Asia Energy, thereafter GCM Resources. The day has nationally been called Phulbari Day since. Powerful resistance in the aftermath of the shooting in Phulbari has put a 15-year long halt to the project. Following the killing of the three young people the Bangladesh government signed a contract with the people in Phulbari on 30th August, 2006. The contract, nationally known as the Phulbari Verdict, suggested that the government would ban coal mining in Bangladesh. The government thus overturned GCM’s right to operate in Bangladesh.

Despite lacking a valid contract for mining, GCM Resources plc (GCM) is selling shares on the UK’s share market. The company is currently listed as a mining company on the London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM). They have extended mining contracts with two China based companies and they are selling shares in London in the name of a “Phulbari coal project”, a project which does not exist. This is an insult to the affected communities who lost their children in the violence in Phulbari. Selling these shares is also unfair to all Bangladeshi and transnational climate justice campaigners.  

GCM does not hold any valid licence to operate in Phulbari and does not have permission for mining anywhere else in the world. The Bangladesh government is fully aware of GCM’s fraudulent activities. Speaking in August 2019 to the Prothom Alo newspaper, Nasrul Hamid, the Deputy State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources in Bangladesh said:

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.”

We have previously written about this to the Chief Executive of London Stock Exchange and we proposed a meeting to discuss the matter in 2016, 2019, and 2020. The London Stock Exchange wrote to Phulbari Solidarity Group on 1 September 2020 that AIM was looking into the matter. But there has been no progress since.

It is time for the Bangladesh High Commission to act on this. The High Commissioner of Bangladesh in the UK should take action and write to the London Stock Exchange, telling them to de-list GCM immediately. The government of Bangladesh overturned GCM’s right to operate in Bangladesh more than a decade ago, and wanted to take legal action in August 2019. It has been two years since. Government delay in taking legal action against the company allows GCM to sell shares on the basis of a fake project, Phulbari coal mine, in London’s share market. The Bangladesh government should take urgent action to prevent this from happening. The government should implement the Phulbari Day Verdict urgently.

Instead of implementing the Phulbari Verdict, the government is implementing four destructive coal-fired projects across the country. Despite nationwide and international outrages and outreach to the government to save the Sundarbans, the government is moving ahead with the 1,320 MW Rampal coalpowerplant planned for construction near the Sundarbans in Bangladesh. We understand that Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company Ltd (BIFPCL) is planning this project and a joint venture between National Thermal Power Company (NTPC) of India and the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) is going ahead, enabling an additional 154 industrial constructions to be built in southwest Bangladesh near the Sundarbans.

Likewise, the government is failing people across Cox’s Bazar coastal area in Southeast Bangladesh. The plans for the construction of a Japan-financed coal-power-plant, Matarbari Phase 2, in Matarbari will ruin livelihoods of communities, destroy three-cops land, pollute water resources, and harm ecosystems essential for farmers and fishermen and women in villages across the Cox’s Bazar. The government is also letting another China-funded coal-power-plant, a 1,224 MW coal-power-plant (currently under construction), in Bashkhali in Chittagong near Cox’s Bazar where seven plant workers were killed for protesting to receive their due wages earlier this year. Two Chinese firms – SEPCOIII Electric Power and HTG – are financing US$1.75 billion of the plants’ estimated $2.4 billion cost. This is happening via a US$1.739 billion loan from the Exim Bank of China. Previously five more people were killed for protesting against the same coal-power-plant in 2016 and 2017. Several companies are involved in the Bashkhali coal-power-plant constructions and killings. These include S Alam Group, PowerChina, and S.S. Power I Ltd. The latest incident of violence and murders on the premises of S.S. Power I Ltd. happened on 17 April. This cannot go on.

The government is also looking into other coal mining options in other regions in Bangladesh. In between, the government has allowed police to torture people in Parbatipur, for protesting against the Barapukuria shaft mining, within the neighbourhood of Phulbari. The mine workers in Barapukuria were protesting a pay gap by a Chinese company in 2011. Currently the government is looking into options for reopening Barapukuria mine through open cast mining. This is a complete violation of the Phulbari Verdict 2006.

We demand the Bangladesh government implement the Phulbari Verdict fully, immediately,  take legal action against GCM, and ban coal-power.

We call on the Bangladeshi government to urgently:

1.  Ban coal mining and fully implement the Phulbari Verdict.

2.  Take legal action against GCM Resources, urgently.

3.  Write to London Stock Exchange Plc. and the UK government informing them that the Phulbari coal project does not exist, and that GCM is cheating on the share market.

4.   Withdraw from the move to build coal-power plants near the Sundarbans and Bashkhali, and all coal projects in Matarbari and anywhere in Bangladesh.

5.  Stop plans to build Barapukuria open cast coal mine, stop the Barapukuria Coal Mine Company Ltd.  Corporate, and compensate Barapukuria coal mine workers who were tortured in  2013 and 2014.

6.  Consult the Alternative Power and Energy Plan for Bangladesh as a way forward for meeting energy needs of the country.

We ask the High Commissioner to convey our demand to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, and demand that the government respond to our call immediately.

Sincerely,

We the undersigned:*

1.   Rumana Hashem, Coordinator, Phulbari Solidarity Group.

2.   Richard Solly, Coordinator, London Mining Network.

3.   Kofi Mawuli Klu, External Coordinator, Extinction Rebellion Internationalist Solidarity Network.

4.   Sanjit Prasad Jitu, Spokesman, Phulbari Chapter of National Committee of Bangladesh.

5.   Mafizur Rahman Laltu, Coordinator, Biborton, Dhaka.

6.   Sumana Nandi, International Coordinator, XR Affinity Network of Asia (XRANA).

7.   Aminul Haque, Spokesperson, Phulbari Krishak Mukti Songram.

8.   Abdul Razzak, Convenor, National Democratic Workers Federation.

9.   Alfredo Quarto, Program & Policy Director/ Co-founder, Mangrove Action Project, USA.

10.  Alauddin, President, Phulbari Construction Workers Union.

11.  Alejandra Piazzolla, Spokesperson, Extinction Rebellion Youth.

12.   Angela Ditchfield, Director, Christian Climate Action.

13.  Anne Harris, Campaigner, Coal Action Network (UK).

14.  Alex Burton, Spokesperson, Global Justice Bloc.

15.  Baccu Islam, President,  Phulbari Upazilla Garments Workers Union.

16.  Bappy Das, Tabla Teacher of Surobani Songgit School.

17.  Danielle DeLuca, Advocacy and Development Manager, Gerente,  Recaudación de Fondos y Programa de Defensa, Cultural Survival, USA.

18.  Dr Samina Luthfa, Spokesperson, Sarbajan Katha, Dhaka.

19.  Esther Stanford-Xosei, Coordinator General,  Stop the Maangamizi: We Charge Genocide/Ecocide

20.  Fe Haslam, Co-Principal Organising Secretary, Global Justice Forum.

21.  Hamidul Haque, President, Phulbari Kuli (day Labourers) Workers Union.

22.  Hasan Mehedi, Member Secretary, Bangladesh Working Group on External Debt (BWGED).

23.  Himel Mondal, Coordinator, National Gonofront.

24.  Jargis Ahamed, President, Cable Operators Association, Phulbari.

25.  Joy Prokash Gupta, Phulbari Kali Mondir Committee.

26.  Julie Begum, Chair, Swadhinata Trust, UK.

27.  Mahamud Alam Liton, Mayor of Phulbari Municipal. Dinajpur.

28.  Manik Sarkar, Mayor of Municipal (Former), Phulbari Municipal.

29.  Nils Agger, Co-founder, Extinction Rebellion

30.  Nicholas Garica, Coordinator, Extinction Rebellion Slough.

31.  Nurul Islam Fokir, General Secretary,  Phulbari Rickshaw Van Workers Union.

32.  Peter Burgess, PhD Candidate, King’s College London.

33. Rowan McLaughlin, South Tees Green Party, UK.

34.  Sara Callaway, Coordinator, Women of Colour and Global Women Strike.

35.  Sara Cordovez, Co-founder, Extinction Rebellion Youth Solidarity.

36.  Samarendra Das, Chair, Foil Vedanta.

37. Saiful Islam Jewel, Convenor, Phulbari Chapter of National Committee of Bangladesh.

38.  Shakoat Hossain, General Secretary, Phulbari Dokam Employees Union (Local Business and Entrepreneurs Association in Phulbari).

39.  Shafiul Islam, President, Phulbari  Upazilla Decorator Workers Union.

40.  SM Nuruzzaman, General Secretary, Trade Union Center Of Dinajpur.

41.  Syed Samiul Islam Shohel, Councillor of Phulbari Municipal.

42. Syed Enamul Islam, Co-ordinator, European Action Group on Climate Change in Bangladesh.

*Note: Names of signatories do not follow alphabetical order. Signatures are added as and when signatories signed the letter online.

Press Release: Protest Held at Bangladesh High Commission on 15th Phulbari Day

Protest outside of Bangladesh High Commission in London on 26 August 2021. Photocredit: Fe Haslam

41 Climate Justice Organisations Called on the Bangladesh Government to Implement Phulbari Verdict, Take Legal Actions Against GCM Resources, and End Coal Power.

Some XR Youth Solidarity activists make placards outside the Bangladesh High Commission for Phulbari Solidarity. Photo credit: London Mining Network

On Thursday 26 August, a large number of transnational anti-mining and climate justice campaigners held a 2-hour long protest outside the Bangladesh High Commission in London, where they honoured the victims of the Phulbari Massacre, where three young people were killed and hundreds injured protesting British financed coal mine. From the Remembrance rally, marking the 15th anniversary of the Phulbari Day, 41 climate justice organisations called on the High Commissioner to push for the delisting of GCM Resources from the London Stock Exchange and the banning of new coal projects in Bangladesh.  Despite advance email request for an appointment with the High Commissioner, the High Commissioner refused to meet the London Mining Network, Phulbari Solidarity Group and Extinction Rebellion Internationalist Network activists.

The rally in London was organised by the Phulbari Solidarity Group and London Mining Network, with support from Foil Vedanta, Fossil Free London, Bibortan, Extinction Rebellion Internationalist Solidarity Network, Global Justice Bloc, Extinction Rebellion Youth Solidarity,  and Women of Colour in the Global Women’s Strike.

Activists from XR Youth UK, Global Justice Bloc, and Fossil Free London joined the Phulbari Solidarity Group and London Mining Network, and occupied the entrance of the Bangladesh High Commission for two hours from 10:30AM to 12:35PM. The rally marked the 15th anniversary of the Phulbari Massacre. The gathered activists laid sunflowers, candles, and held banners outside the High Commission, accompanied by mournful cello music by XR Youth Solidarity artist, Clary. The memorandum to Bangladesh High Commissioner was shared and read out loudly by seven activists, led by Rumana Hashem, the coordinator of the Phulbari Solidarity Group and eyewitness to the 2006 massacre. A three minute silence was held in memory of  Al Amin, Mohammad Saleqin and Tarikul Islam. These three, aged 11,13 and 18 respectively were killed on 26 August 2006 when a paramilitary force opened fire during a  nonviolent demonstration of an estimated 80,000 people against the eviction of 130,000 people in Phulbari  to make way for a 572-million ton open cast coal mine. More than 200 other demonstrators were injured.

A handpainted balck banner with sunflowers and candles on either side laid on the ground outside the Bangladesh High Commission by PSGBD in memory of Al Amin, Salekin and Tariqul, who were killed in 2006. Photocredit: Saul Jones.

Extinction Rebellion Youth Solidarity activists held a placard making session outside the High Commission building, stressing the link between young activists and climate justice struggles. A delegation of 5 organisers of the rally requested to meet with MS Saida Muna Tasneem, the High Commissioner for Bangladesh, in order to deliver a memorandum signed by 41 climate justice organisations. This memorandum demand that the High Commissioner put pressure on the London Stock Exchange to de-list GCM Resources, and stress the importance of implementing the Phulbari Verdict, which would ban new coal projects in Bangladesh, to the Bangladeshi Prime Minister. The delegation was denied access to the building as the High Commissioner refused to meet.

First Officer to the High Commissioner receives the memorandum from the protesters. Photocredit: Saul Jones

While activists were disappointed that the High Commissioner did not have time to meet with them, her First Officer has come to the steps of the office to accept the letter on behalf of Ms Tasneem. The First Officer appeared apologetic and repeatedly emphasised that he will make sure a meeting with the representatives of the organising groups and the High Commissioner will be arranged at a later date. Activists said that they were hurt by the fact that High Commissioner did not have interest in meeting with global climate activists on Phulbari Day. Short speeches were given by Richard Solly, network coordinator of London Mining Network, Sara Cordovez of Extinction Rebellion Youth Solidarity, and placards were read loudly by XR YouthUK activists. Activists said that they will come back to this venue until the day the Phulbari Verdict is implemented.

 Rumana Hashem , the co-ordinator of Phulbari Solidarity Group  and an

eye-witness to Phulbari shooting said:

I am sad that the High Commissioner did not make time for us on  a sensitive issue on Phulbari Day. Bangladesh High Commission is fully aware that the London Stock Exchange is hosting a company that is responsible for gross human rights violations and that does not have a valid license for business in Bangladesh. But they are not taking action to prevent this crime. I have witnessed GCM’s violence in Phulbari. 15 years on, the company continues to grab money by selling deceitful shares on Phulbari’s name. The company does not hold any valid asset to operate in Phulbari and does not have permission for mining anywhere in the world. The Bangladesh’s state minister stated that the government will take legal action against GCM. That was in 2019. Its’ been two years since.  We have written to LSE’s Chief Financial Officer and Chief Executive Officers twice, and submitted evidence showing that GCM is involved in fraudulent business at LSE. It is now the High Commission and Bangladesh Government who should take action.”

Rumana Hashem of PSGBD holds a poster made by the Youths of Phulbari Public Library showing women are shouting at para-military men during curfew after the shooting in the evening of 26 August 2006. Photocredit: Fe Haslam.

Of the campaign to de-list GCM, Richard Solly, Network Coordinator of London Mining Network, said:

“Since LMN was launched in 2007, we have supported the struggle against the Phulbari project. It is utter madness for GCM to keep pressing on with a new opencast coal project which would displace tens of thousands of people dependent on rural occupations, with no guarantee that they could find alternative work, and at a time when we know we have to stop burning coal anyway. UK authorities should not allow London share markets to be used to finance this kind of destructive project. GCM should be delisted.”

In the afternoon, 200 protesters from across the world joined the campaigners at a Live streamed witness and solidarity event hosted by the Phulbari Solidarity Group, Bibortan Cultural Group, and London Mining Network on zoom, where speakers from Phulbari communities and Bangladesh National Committee were joined by Women of Colour, Foil Vedanta and London Mining Network. Artists and eco-feminists from Bibortan cultural group performed Bengali songs and music for Phulbari resistance, save the Sunderbans and ecological struggles. The event ended by reading the Phulbari Verdict 2006, the original agreement with the government and the communities in resistance, which was signed by Anu Muhammad and the Mayor of Dinajpur, Mizanur Rahman Minu on 30 August, 2006. Rumana Hashem read the agreement.

Placard made by XR Youth Solidarity activist in solidarity with Phulbari communities in resistance. Photocredit: Saul Jones

Sara Calaway, Co-founder of Women of Colour, said:

The determined resistance of women in particular halted plans for a devastating coal mine. People of Phulbari — women, men and children, are acting also for us and we must act with them.  Our thoughts are with the families of the children shot dead by paramilitaries, and those injured. These brutal attacks did not to stop protests.  Women, as often happens, were central — on marches, road blocks, and even courageously chasing away paramilitaries with brooms and cooking utensils to protect lives.  Your strength is an inspiration to us all.  We will publicise your struggle especially during the weeks of climate action to end polluters – we must abolish multi-national polluters to save the planet and ourselves. 

Grassroots women are the carers everywhere. They and all carers for people and planet deserve a income to strengthen our struggle and win.  Power to Phulbari, India’s farmers, Haiti, Burma, Marikana and all organising for justice and to save our planet! From Women of Colour GWS & International Global Women’s Strike: UK, India, Ireland, Peru, Thailand, USA.

Sara Cordovez of Extinction Rebellion Youth Solidarity said:

As XR Youth Solidarity, we stand with the Phulbari Solidarity Group in marking the 15th anniversary of the Phulbari Day shooting. For us at XR Youth Solidarity, Phulbari Day represents the undeniable link between people and planet: our global fossil-fuel addicted economy is killing people, directly and indirectly, and driving us towards the ecological and climate collapse, while leaving communities like Phulbari to mourn for the youth that stood against this fate. We stand united against GCM and emphatically condemn their continued listing in the London Stock Exchange.”

Colombian mining activist Sara Cordovez of XR Youth Solidarity holds her third hand written placard outside of Bangladesh High Commission London on 26 August 2021. Photocredit: Rumana Hashem, PSG.

Speaking from Bangladesh, Professor Anu Muhammad , Member Secretary of the  central National Committee to Protect Natural Resources said:

This is unbelievable that a fraud company like GCM which has no credibility even as a business house, rather it has blood in its hands, lies in their leaps, falsehood in their papers, poison in their activities- still enjoying support from British establishment to continue with these. This company has been cheating people in share business to make money in the name of Phulbari where they were behind killing people, on which they have no valid license, where they tried to implement a disastrous project, from where they were driven out in 2006 by a mass uprising and never allowed to enter.

Since 2006, in all these years they have been trying to  incite violence in the area, tried to mobilize criminals against community leaders, made false cases against them, but could not enter into the area. Peoples resistance remains strong. These frauds should also be driven out by British institutions including LSE. We are looking forward to seeing the trial of these criminals in Dhaka and London .”

Extinction Rebellion Youth Solidarity activists hold their hadwritten placards wtih cello outside of Bangladesh High Commission in London on Phulbari Day on 26 August. Photocredit: Rumana Hashem

GCM Resources is avoiding scrutiny

A Joint Statement by Phulbari Solidarity Group, London Mining Network, Foil Vedanta, Fossil Free UK, Urgewald and XR Asian Affinity Network

The London-listed coal mining company, GCM Resources plc, are holding their AGM this year on 25 February but they are pressing forward a pernicious policy that excludes their own shareholders and restrain people from attending the AGM. GCM said that ‘due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the AGM will be held virtually as a closed meeting with a minimum number of directors and shareholders present, such that the legal requirement to hold a quorate meeting will be satisfied; and no other shareholders will be permitted to access, attend or participate either in person or virtually.’ GCM goes on saying, ‘As a consequence of the current COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the UK Government, shareholders will not be permitted to attend the Annual General Meeting and will only be able to vote by proxy. This year, only the Chairman of the Meeting may be appointed as a proxy.’

Note this: the company is using COVID-19 restrictions to exclude shareholders from a virtual meeting, at which the risk of transmission is zero. It would be legal and practical to admit shareholders to the virtual meeting. In case GCM Resources’ video conferencing capacity is insufficient to allow more than their legal quorum of two shareholders to attend a virtual meeting, London Mining Network offered the possibility of hosting GCM’s AGM on their own Zoom account – but GCM did not respond to the suggestion. We assume, therefore, that GCM Resources is deliberately trying to evade engagement with, and accountability to, their own shareholders.

The UK Government’s Financial Reporting Council published a Corporate Governance report in October 2020 examining the varying practices of UK companies in responding to legislation limiting gatherings in the light of COVID-19. The report, AGMs: an opportunity for change, explicitly criticised this kind of arrangement: ‘The use of closed meetings without any additional opportunities for shareholders to engage – although legal – effectively disenfranchises retail shareholders from their right to hold boards to account, and such meetings are not aligned with the importance of shareholders engagement set out in the UK Corporate Governance Code.’ (see Page 9)

The Financial Reporting Council’s report goes on: ‘Shareholder rights are best served by companies that provide highly effective and clear communication before, during, and after the meeting, and allow full participation from those shareholders that wish to attend, either in person (when this is possible) or virtually.’ (see Page 11)

The board of GCM Resources certainly needs to be held to account. GCM’s shares were temporarily suspended from trading on the London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM) on 6 January 2021 after the company’s Nomad (Nominated Advisor), Strand Hanson Limited, has resigned on 4 December 2020, with no reason being given. But we are sure this is a result of our letter campaign 2020. All AIM-traded companies have to have a registered Nomad if they are to continue trading, and it took GCM over a month to lure another advisor, W.H. Ireland Limited, in to take on the role.

AIM has come in for serious specific criticism for regulatory weakness. The highly respected UK NGO Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID) made a submission to the London Stock Exchange during a 2017 review of AIM’s rules. That submission criticised the rules review itself for not being radical enough, and called for a wholesale, independent review of AIM, with terms of reference including the ability to consider the option of closing AIM down if it could not be significantly reformed. Citing numerous examples, and referring to a number of high-profile scandals and failures, RAID’s submission listed a number of short-comings. These included, among other things, limited due diligence on admission to the market; a lack of scrutiny making ongoing due diligence extremely weak; and the failure of AIM’s privatised system of regulation whereby day-to-day regulation is passed to fee-paying companies, the Nomads. In 2018 London Mining Network published a report examining the appalling human rights and environmental impacts of eight mining companies trading on AIM; one of them was GCM Resources.

So AIM itself is clearly a cesspit of poor practice; the system of Nomads is open to abuse amounting to corruption. Against this background, GCM Resources’ behaviour seems to have been so unacceptable that the company’s Nomad Strand Hanson Limited ditched them. We call on W H Ireland Limited to do likewise.

GCM’s only asset is a coal deposit in Phulbari, Bangladesh, where they have no licence to mine and where they face massive opposition from the tens of thousands of people who stand to be forcibly relocated if a mine should be constructed. GCM’s CEO Gary Lye has been abusing community leaders and peasants in Phulbari and Dinajpur, by filing false cases against 18 frontline organisers of Phulbari outburst 2006. On 4 February and 24 January the 18 community organisers have had to face trials in DInjpur in the midst of a pandemic.The company is currently relying on agreements with Chinese energy companies to remain in business.

GCM remain, as they always have been, a model of poor corporate practice. We call on the London Stock Exchange to delist the company from the Alternative Investment Market. We call on the company to get out of Phulbari; to get out of Bangladesh; and to get out of London. We call on the company’s Board to do something more constructive with their time than pursuing a project which would wreck the lives and livelihoods of tens of thousands of people in Phulbari and contribute to the climate catastrophe which threatens to wreck life for everyone on this planet.

Joint Press Release: Blood, Coal and the London Stock Exchange

Marking the 14th Phulbari Day, Campaigners Demand GCM Resources is De-listed from London Stock Exchange

 

  • 26 August is Phulbari Day, marking the anniversary of the deaths of three young Bangladeshi protesters in 2006.
  • A coalition of activists held a vigil in solidarity with those marking the day in Bangladesh.
  • They presented a demand to the London Stock Exchange that GCM Resources be immediately de-listed.
  • Security at the LSE refused to accept a formal letter to David Schwimmer, Chief Executive of the London Stock Exchange Group.

Yesterday transantional activists and climate campaigners gathered outside the London Stock Exchange in a somber vigil of remembrance and display of impassioned solidarity. Wearing green and laying white flowers, they observed the 14th anniversary of the killing of three young protesters, Al Amin (11 years old), Salekin (13 years old), and Tarikul (18 years old), who were shot dead on 26 August in 2006 while non-violently protesting the planned construction of an open cast coal mine in Phulbari, Bangladesh.

26 August ‘Phulbari Day’ is recognised in Bangladesh and is observed with vigils and commemorations by indigenous communities and anti-mining activists across the country.

GCM Resources PLC (formerly Asia Energy) are the British-based company behind the proposed mine. They continue to trade shares in their ‘Phulbari Coal Project’ today, despite having no valid asset to operate in Phulbari and no permission to mine anywhere in the world. In their 2019 Annual Report, GCM reveled that they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Power China (the Chinese state owned power company) to construct a coal fire power station in Phulbari. The coalition of activists from a range of climate justice and human rights groups – led by the Phulbari Solidarity Group – London Mining Network, Labour Campaign for Human Rights, Extinction Rebellion Youth Solidarity, XR Slough, Foil Vedanta, and Reclaim the Power – demanded that GCM be de-listed from the stock exchange and no longer be allowed to trade shares.

 

 

Gathering to the sound of soft drumming outside the main entrance to the Stock Exchange, the campaigners proceeded to paint the names of the dead on a green banner in an act of commemoration. White flowers were laid and candles lit in their memory. The demands made of the LSE that GCM be de-listed were read aloud and, in keeping with the vigil also held today in Phulbari and across Bangladesh, a 3 minute silence was observed for Al Amin, Mohammad Salekin and Tarikul Islam.

 

The vigil was later joined by an elderly British-Bangladeshi group who were demonstrating outside of the London Stock Exchange after midday, under banner of the UK branch of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Port in Bangladesh . Other groups attending the vigil include Extinction Rebellion Taunton, Global Justice Rebellion, and Extinction Rebellion Internationalist Solidarity Network.  The intergenrationl green vigil ended with soft drumming.

 

Representatives of the Phulbari Solidarity Coalition then attempted to deliver a formal letter (see Green Memorandum to London Stock Exchange) to the Stock Exchange, requesting that David Schwimmer, Chief Executive of the London Stock Exchange Group begin the process of de-listing GCM and launch an investigation into their activities. The letter presented in a green envelop was not accepted by the security present. A copy was left behind at the entrance to the building and another to be posted to the LSE Group.

In their letter, the  Phulbari Solidarity Coalition alleges that GCM have engaged in fraudulent activity in continuing to sell shares in London based on a project that has no legal permission to go ahead in Bangladesh. Further, the letter suggests that the plan to build an open cast coal mine in the only flood protected region of northwest Bangladesh constitutes ecocide. The LSE has not previously acted to penalise any London listed mining company for alleged involvement in the killing of protesters. The coalition says this is bringing the LSE into disrepute.

 

Dr Rumana Hashem, co-ordinator of Phulbari Solidarity Coalition and eye-witness to Phulbari shooting said:

“ London Stock Exchange has shown no respect to us. By rejecting our memo, and not letting the post room accept our letter the LSE has rather proved that they support unethical business of British companies who can incite violence overseas.

The LSE has the power to suspend or expel a company from AIM for breach of the AIM rules . Despite our repeated calls to investigate GCM’s business, the London Stock Exchange is reluctant to do so. The London Stock Exchange should de-list GCM immediately.

But I am inspired by the creatively powerful protest today, led by the coalition in which XR Youth Solidarity, XR Slough and London Mining Network played vital roles. This shows that Phulbari resistance will not die. Here on the 14th Phulbari Day, we are growing .  Our struggles will continue as a connected resistance against coal mining. We will come back to London Stock Exchange until the day this company has been delisted.”

Ian Byrne MP said,

“I fully support the protest outside the London Stock Exchange today and stand in solidarity with the Bangladeshi people. The United Kingdom cannot be complicit in human rights abuses abroad and we have a responsibility to better regulate our financial industries in a just transition to a more green and sustainable future.”

Sara Cordovez of Extinction Rebellion Youth Solidarity said:

“As XR Youth Solidarity, we stand with the Phulbari Solidarity Group in marking the 14th anniversary of the Phulbari Day shooting. The human beings who were murdered, Al Amin (11 yo), Mohammad Salekin (13 yo), and Tarikul Islam (18 yo), were all youth: their deaths represent the most violent manifestation a system that actively silences the youth’s ability to cause a radical shift from corporate neoliberal extractivist enterprise. As a united global youth community, we mourn for the futures that were taken away from them by the violence of the extractivist system we live in. For us at XR Youth Solidarity, Phulbari Day represents the undeniable link between people and planet: our global fossil-fuel addicted economy is killing people, directly and indirectly, and driving us towards the ecological and climate collapse, while leaving communities like Phulbari to mourn for the youth that stood against this fate. We stand united against GCM and emphatically condemn their continued listing in the London Stock Exchange.”

Speaking from the Labour Campaign for Human Rights, Mick Whitley MP said:

“The British-based coal company, GCM Resources, is showing complete disregard for the climate crisis that threatens our planet. Moreover it is trampling on the rights of the Bangladeshi people. I fully support the protest outside the London Stock Exchange today and stand in solidarity with the Bangladeshi people. The United Kingdom must not be complicit in human rights abuses anywhere in the world and we have a responsibility to properly regulate our industries in a transition to a more green and sustainable future, and that respects the lives and the rights of people everywhere.”

Of the campaign to de-list GCM, Richard Solly (Network Coordinator of London Mining Network) said:

“Since LMN was launched in 2007, we have supported the struggle against the Phulbari project. It is utter madness for GCM to keep pressing on with a new opencast coal project which would displace tens of thousands of people dependent on rural occupations, with no guarantee that they could find alternative work, and at a time when we know we have to stop burning coal anyway. UK authorities should not allow London share markets to be used to finance this kind of destructive project. GCM should be delisted.”

Speaking from Bangladesh, Professor Anu Muhammad, Member Secretary of the central National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Natural Resources, and Power-Port in Bangladesh said:

This is unbelievable that a fraud company like GCM which has no credibility even as a business house, rather it has blood in its hands, lies in their leaps, falsehood in their papers, poison in their activities- still enjoying support from British establishment to continue with these. This company has been cheating people in share business to make money in the name of Phulbari where they were behind killing people, on which they have no valid license, where they tried to implement a disastrous project, from where they were driven out in 2006  by a mass uprising  and never allowed to enter. 

Since 2006, in all these years they have been trying to recreate violence in the area, tried to mobilize criminals against community leaders, made false cases against them, but could not enter into the area. People’s resistance remains strong. These frauds should be driven out by British institutions including LSE. We are looking forward to seeing the trial of these criminals in Dhaka and London.”

Yesterday’s green action took place in solidarity with those in Bangladesh and mirrors a silent rally of the Phulbari communities in Nimtola corner. It aims to put pressure on the LSE to de-list GCM. If this were to happen, GCM would no longer be able to trade on the LSE’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM), significantly affecting their funding and representing clear action being taken to hold the company to account. Campaigners point to potential fraud, harassment of local communities and the fact that GCM holds no valid license to mine in Bangladesh as reasons to de-list the company.

Despite lacking any contract with the national government, GCM have continued to move forward aggressively with their plans, which would displace up to 230,000 people and destroy up to 94% of the region’s agricultural land. Their 2019 Annual Report states that GCM have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Power China to develop a 4000MW power plant in Phulbari.  In May 2020, GCM announced extensions to strategic partnership talks for the Phulbari coal project in Bangladesh, they extended a joint venture agreement with PowerChina and the MoU with NFC by 12 months to January 2021, and recruited a local agency called the DG Infratech Pte Ltd, a Bangladesh company to lobby with the government and to get their dodgy deal through.

Speaking in August 2019 to the Prothom Alo newspaper, Deputy State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, Nasrul Hamid said:

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.”

A short film of the vigil is avaiable here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avVbmZd4QQY

 

Press Contact:

To organise statements or interviews with any of the host organisations,  and for video clips from the green vigil please contact:

Saul Jones – Communications Coordinator, London Mining Network

e-mail: saul@londonminingnetwork.org

phone: 07928443248

Green Vigil at London Stock Exchange: Mark 14th Phulbari Day

Memorial of Al Amin, Mohammad Salekin, and Tarikul Islam in Phulbari. It reads: WE DO NOT WANT COAL MINE! AMIN, SAEKIN, TARIKUL, SLEEP IN PEACE. WE ARE AWAKE AND WIlL REMAIN VIGILANT.

Demand DE-LIST GCM from London Stock Exchange

Protest outside of London Stock Exchange

11:30AM – 12:30PM  on Wednesday, 26 August 2019

 10 Paternoster Square, London EC4M 7LS

 

This 26th August marks the 14th anniversary of the Phulbari Day shooting. On 26 August in 2006 three young people Al Amin (11 yo), Mohammad Salekin (13 yo), and Tarikul Islam (18 yo) were shot dead, and more than two hundreds injured in a non-violent demonstration of 80,000 people who marched against a London-listed mining company, GCM Resources Plc., in Phulbari. GCM want to build a massive open cast coal mine by forcibly displacing 130,000 people in Phulbari, the only flood protected location in northwest Bangladesh. The day has been marked as Phulbari Day since the murders of Al Amin, Salekin and Tarikul.

Powerful resistance by women, children, indigenous men, farmers and teachers against the mining company has in the aftermath of the shooting put a decade long halt to the coal project. The Bangladesh government has declined all contracts with GCM. But the company continues its dodgy deals. GCM announced extensions to strategic partnership talks for the Phulbari coal project in Bangladesh, they extended a joint venture agreement with PowerChina and the MoU with NFC by 12 months to January 2021, and recruited a local agency called the DG Infratech Pte Ltd, a Bangladesh company to lobby with the government and to get their dodgy deal through. Despite having no valid contract with Bangladesh, they are aggressively moving ahead with their plans.

If the mine is built, 130,000 people and farmers in Phulbari would be displaced, 14,600 hectares of highly cultivable land would be destroyed (1 hectare=2.58 acres), clean water resources be threatened and one of the world’s largest mangrove forests, the Sunderbans, would be damaged. In return GCM would enjoy 9 years tax holiday, would extract coal for 36n years, and offers only 6 percent revenue to the government keeping 94 percent profit from 572 million tons of high quality coal in Phulbari.

London Stock Exchange (LSE) is hosting this company. The LSE has the power to suspend or expel a company from AIM for breach of the AIM rules . Despite our repeated calls to investigate GCM’s rights to business, the LSE is reluctant to do so. We had been there with black vigil and red vigils in the past. This year we are going with a green vigil. We demand the London Stock Exchange must de-list GCM.

In this Black August, Phulbari Solidarity Coalition stands with the people in Phulbari.  The coalition’s Green Vigil is organised by the Phulbari Solidarity Group, London Mining Network, XR Youth Solidarity,  Reclaim the Power, Labour Party for Human Rights, and XR Slough. We will be protesting silently with canvassing in the City of London. In the spirit of Black Lives Matter, we will pay tribute to the three black youths Al Amin, Mohammad Salekin and Tarikul Islam by Green Canvassing and art works by the youths.

Join us. Confirm attendance via:  https://www.facebook.com/events/220971732649471/

Communities in Phulbari are holding silent rallies in Nimtola corner to pay tribute to Amin, Salekin and Tarikul’s graveyard on 26th August. Civil societies in Bangladesh joined by the Phulbari Solidarity Group are hosting online protests and webinars on witnesses to Phulbari Day, demanding the government take legal action against GCM. Coinciding with the community commemoration,  we will hold a GREEN VIGIL at the London Stock Exchange (nearest tube station: St Paul’s). We will honour the lost lives by rallying and canvassing silently at the City of London. We demand London Stock Exchange MUST De-list GCM Resources Plc.

     JOIN US  at 11:30AM on Wednesday 26 August!

Wear Green as a symbol of Solidarity with Phulbari!

Wear A Mask!

Bring along your hand written placards! 

Use hand gloves.

We will maintain social distance but commemorate and protest together!

See you there!

 

Contact for further information: +447767757645,  +44 07903 851695.

Email: phulbarisolidaritygroup@gmail.com, contact@londonminingnetwork.org ,xry.intrrnationalist@gmail.com

 

Phulbari Solidarity Group, London Mining Network, Extinction Rebellion Youth Solidarity, Extinction Rebellion Slough, Reclaim the Power, Labour Party For Human Rights, Foil Vedanta, and Global Justice Rebellion.

#PhulbariDay #CoalKills #PhulbariResistance #BlackLivesMatter

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

 

 

BREAKING: Bangladesh govt will take legal action as GCM spreads false information

This is a translated version of an important report by Mohammad Arifuzzaman, a senior journalist at the daily Prothom Alo. The report was published on 24 August 2019 in both the hard copy of and online Prothom Alo – Bangladesh’s most widely read newspaper in Dhaka. Our colleague, Munira Chowdhury, has interpreted this from Bengali to English to help clarify the position of Bangladesh government on the question of GCM’s illegal business and claims related to Phulbari coal mine.  Mohammad Arifuzzaman reports that Government is considering a legal action against GCM because GCM is selling shares on the basis of false information. Read detailed report below.

Asia Energy providing false information on Phulbari contract

By Mohammad Arifuzzaman, Dhaka, 24 August 2019.

 

At the moment the government of Bangladesh does not have a contract (or agreement) with London-based company Global Coal Management (GCM or formerly known as Asia Energy). Even then, the company is trading shares in United Kingdom’s London Stock Exchange (LSE) making claims that coal will be extracted and used for power generation from coal mines in Phulbari, Dinajpur. The government of Bangladesh is considering legal action in this regard.

The Deputy-State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, Nasrul Hamid, commented on this to Prothom Alo. He said: “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.”

The Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s clear instructions are that the government has no plans to extract coal from Phulbari, said Nasrul Hamid. Phulbari’s coal has been reserved for the future. The extraction of coal would be considered if any advanced technology in the future emerges that will not harm the environment.

Sources from the ministry informed that Asia Energy received a two-year permit (license) from the Energy Department’s Bureau of Mineral Resource Development (BMD) on 27 January 2004 for survey and work plan (for coal mining) for Dinajpur’s Phulbari coal mine. That permit expired on 27 January in 2006. BMD has not renewed Asia Energy’s permit since then. Therefore, the UK-based company has no legal license to play any role in the development of Phulbari’s coal mine.

After receiving permit in 2004, Asia Energy attempted to extract coal at Phulbari through open pit mining. According to Energy Department officials, then ruling parties BNP-Jamaat alliance gave the company permit to extract coal with 92 percent ownership.

At that time, the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports, opposed the extraction of coal through open pit mining and coal exports and started protests against Asia Energy. As a part of the protests, on 26 August 2006, a rally was organised at the site of the coal mine at Phulbari.

Three locals were killed and more than two hundred were injured when the then BDR (now BGB) opened fire at the people gathered at the rally. Following these events, in order to manage this situation, the government reached an agreement with the National Committee. One of the major conditions of that agreement was the ban of Asia Energy from the country and their just trial as well as a stop to open pit mining of coal.

Doing business in the United Kingdom by showcasing resources in Bangladesh Energy Department officials inform that Asia Energy was listed in 2004 with Alternative Investment Market (AIM), a sub-market of the London Stock Exchange. However, the name of the company was changed to GCM. AIM allows different companies with potential for future growth to raise investments in the share market.

Despite the fact that Asia Energy does not have any permit from with Bangladesh post 2006, the company is still disclosing information on the London Stock Exchange with the Phulbari coal mine in its listed assets. In the meantime, on 17 January this year, Asia Energy has signed an agreement with Chinese firm PowerChina to build mine-mouth power plant at the Phulbari. Asia Energy’s stock price was down for several years in London stock market. After the signing an agreement with the Chinese company, the value of each share stood at 25.75 pence (100 pence = 1 British pound).

The Ministry of Power did not know of Asia Energy’s agreement with the Chinese company to build
mine-mouth power plant at Phulbari. State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid said: “the matter would be seriously scrutinized. In order to find out how Asia Energy is making claims to plans for extraction of coal from Phulbari coal mine while they are not having a valid permit to do so.

The daily Prothom Alo contacted the company’s media and communication specialist Mahmood Hafiz through mobile phone. He said to Prothom Alo, “I am not the right person to talk about matter.”

Meanwhile, 12 environmental and rights-based organisations under the banner of Phulbari Solidarity Coalition wrote to the London Stock Exchange chief financial officer,  David P. Warren, on 19 July with a petition to halt GCM’s share trading.  Making these demands, members of the 12 environmental groups staged a protest in front of the London Stock Exchange office on Friday. These 12 organisations are the Phulbari Solidarity Group, the UK branch of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports, Foil Vedanta, Extinction  Rebellion-UK, the United States-based Mangrove Action Project and BankTrack, among others.

Anu Muhammad, the member-secretary of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Port told Prothom Alo that: “it is unacceptable that the government does not know of the openly disclosed agreement of Asia Energy to develop power plants at the mine site with a Chinese company. The illegal activities of this company need to be stopped. In fact, a dominant group of people receives money from Asia Energy, which is the reason behind the government’s inaction against them.”

      Copyright: Fossil Free UK.

 

The Bangla original version of the report is accessible here, the daily Prothom Alo, 24 August 2019.

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

GLOBAL PROTEST FOR THE RELEASE OF SHAHIDUL ALAM

#FreeShahidulAlam

 

What? Global Protest for the Release of Shahidul Alam

When? 12 noon to 14:00, Friday, 7 September 2018

Where? Bangladesh High Commission, 28 Queen’s Gate, Kensington, London SW7 5JA.

(nearest tube station: Gloucester Road/ South Kensington/ High Street Kensington)

 

Shahidul Alam being abused and silenced by DB police in front of a Dhaka court on 6 August 2018. Photocredit: Anonymous activist.

 

Dr Shahidul Alam, an internationally renowned photographer, the Managing Director of Drik and a rights activist had been covering student protests for road safety sparked off by the tragic death of two students on 29 July in Dhaka. Last month, on the night of 5 August, Shahidul was forcibly abducted from his home by the Bangladeshi Detective Branch (DB) because of his reporting, and subsequently, without legal representation, was sent to prison on 12th August and charged under Bangladesh’s controversial Section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act, meaning he could face upto 14 years imprisonment for free expression. Shahidul said that he was tortured. His lawyers reported that Shahidul has shown signs of mental abuse but was denied medical and psychological support. Although the High Court had ordered that he should be examined for torture, this was not carried out.

 

Photographer Shahidul Alam is an active member of Phulbari Action group since the inception of the listserve. He is also a dedicated supporter of the Save the Sunderbans Movement in Bangladesh. Shahidul has been contributing to both movements through his photography and powerful documentation of the ongoing resistance to protect Bangladesh’s climate and environment. Phulbari Solidarity Group along with other frontline activists in Bangladesh and London joined the worldwide outrage, demanding the immediate release of Shahidul Alam.

 

Since his arbitrary arrest, smear campaigns and media trials are continuously being conducted against Shahidul Alam. We have now learnt from credible sources that further cases might be framed against Shahidul Alam –  founder of Drik and Pathshala, award-winning institutions, recognised internationally for having placed Bangladesh photography on the world map – and that these could be grounds for further interrogation and remand.

 

There have been ongoing global protests against his arrest yet government in Bangladesh is stern in its position to punish the photographer for speaking truth to power. Many of the detained protestors have been released on bail but Dr. Alam is not one of them. Shahidul Alam is unwell.  Moreover, the Court’s order for division has not been implemented.

 

We also note with deep concern that Dr. Alam’s bail hearings have repeatedly been refused.  A High Court bench on 4th September declared itself ’embarrassed’ but it is not clear whether this was due to any genuine conflict of interest or pressure exerted from above.

 

Since his arrest, smear campaigns and media trials are continuously being conducted against Shahidul Alam.  We have now learnt from credible sources that further cases might be framed against Shahidul Alam –  founder of Drik and Pathshala, award-winning institutions, recognised internationally for having placed Bangladesh photography on the world map – and that these could be grounds for further interrogation and remand.

 

The storm of global condemnation and protests on Shahidul’s unlawful imprisonment continues unabated and has included statements made by 12 Nobel laureates and many eminent citizens and activists across the globe. Several British MPs with Bangladeshi roots, notably, Rupa Huq, Rushanara Ali and Tulip Siddique have made statements in support of Shahidul Alam.

 

Many of us have been actively supporting Shahidul Alam and demanding his release by sending letters to MPs and to the Bangladeshi authorities. But the authorities failed to respond to our calls. We will be joining the London based activists and artists in a sit-in demonstration to free Shahidul Alam this Friday. As our commitment to continue with the protests is ever stronger, we will be gathering outside Bangladesh High Commission in London this Friday ahead of the 11 September hearing of a bail petition for Shahidul to be held in a Dhaka court.

 

We encourage everyone to add voices to those rallying in front of the Bangladesh High Commission from 12 noon to 2pm on Friday, 7 September.  There will be a sit-in demonstration, songs, short speeches and a petition to be submitted to the Bangladesh High Commission demanding Shahidul Alam’s immediate release.

 

We call on the Bangladesh Government headed by the prime minister Sheikh Hasina to heed world public opinion; demand his immediate, unconditional release; withdrawal of false cases, cessation of persecution; and safety of his family members.

 

 

JOIN Us with Your Friends this Friday outside Bangladesh High Commission in London.

Tell Bangladeshi Government to Release Photographer Shahidul Alam Now! 

Please confirm your participation via Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/events/315084915715037/

 —————————————————————————————————————–

Contact for further information: phulbarisolidaritygroup@gmail.com

For Further news and updates, please see below:

  1. Photographer charged as police crackdown in Bangladesh intensifies: 06 August, The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/06/famed-bangladeshi-photographer-held-over-road-protest-comments?CMP=share_btn_tw
  2. Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam detained after post about Dhaka protests https://cpj.org/2018/08/bangladeshi-photographer-shahidul-alam-detained-af.php
  3. Bangladesh protests: How a traffic accident stopped a city of 18 million: 06 August, BBC https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-45080129
  4. Violence continues as students protests , Washington Post, 6 August https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/violence-continues-in-bangladesh-capital-as-students-protest/2018/08/06/f23226d4-9952-11e8-a8d8-9b4c13286d6b_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.d3b8a3b666cf
  5. Renowned Photographer held after media comments: 06 August, Al-Jazeera English https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/08/bangladesh-renowned-photographer-detained-media-comments-180806065359943.html
  6. Free Shahidul, 07 August, New Internationalist, https://newint.org/features/web-exclusive/2018/08/07/free-shahidul
  7. High court has issued an order to suspend 7 days Remand of Shahidul Alam. And transfer him to Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University: 08 August, Dhaka Tribune https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/court/2018/08/07/high-court-halts-shahidul-alam-s-remand/
  8. Shahidul was arrested to silence everyone: 09 August, BDNews24.com https://bangla.bdnews24.com/bangladesh/article1527976.bdnews
  9. Commentary by Golam Mortoja: How rumour hides under Helmets, 08 August, 2018,  The Daily Star. Net (Bangla) https://www.thedailystar.net/bangla/%E0%A6%AE%E0%A6%A4%E0%A6%BE%E0%A6%AE%E0%A6%A4/%E0%A6%97%E0%A7%81%E0%A6%9C%E0%A6%AC-%E0%A6%B9%E0%A7%87%E0%A6%B2%E0%A6%AE%E0%A7%87%E0%A6%9F%E0%A7%87%E0%A6%B0-%E0%A6%86%E0%A7%9C%E0%A6%BE%E0%A6%B2%E0%A7%87-96517
  10. Why a road accident in Bangladesh has sparked widespread protests, ITV News , 08 August 2018: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnNFU1G9waw
  11. Renowned Photographer Shahidul Alam is still held by Bangladeshi Detective Branch custody, CWAB, 09 August, 2018: https://communitywomenblog.wordpress.com/2018/08/09/renowned-photographer-shahidul-alam-is-still-held-by-the-bangladeshi-detective-branch-police-custody/
  12. Protests in Bangladesh reveals deep insecurity of the government, TRT World, 09 August 2018: https://www.trtworld.com/opinion/protests-in-bangladesh-reveal-the-deep-insecurity-of-the-government-19481
  13. An acclaimed photographer in Bangladesh says, he was tortured: New York Times, 8 August https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/08/world/asia/bangladesh-photographer-shahidul-alam.html
  14. Bruised and battered: 10 August, The Daily Star, https://www.thedailystar.net/news/star-weekend/special-feature/bruised-and-battered-1618453
  15. 323 prominent activists, artistes, academics call for Shahidul’s immediate release, 11 August, New Age http://www.newagebd.net/article/48207/323-prominent-activists-artistes-academics-call-for-shahiduls-immediate-release
  16. Shahidul Alam sent to prison: 13 August 18, the Daily Star https://www.thedailystar.net/news/city/shahidul-dropped-remand-abruptly-1619743?amp&__twitter_impression=true
  17. Sheikh Hasina’s son’s response and the Indian media analysis: 13 August, The Wire: https://thewire.in/south-asia/shahidul-alam-sheikh-hasina-son-bangladesh-arrest
  18. Who Is Afraid of Shahidul Alam? By Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, 20 August, New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/20/opinion/shahidul-alam-prison-bangladesh.html
  19. Amartya Sen voices support for Shahidul Alam: 26 August, 2018, The Independent Bangladesh http://www.theindependentbd.com/post/163560
  20. সড়ক দুর্ঘটনা: বাংলাদেশের কুষ্টিয়ার যে ভিডিও নাড়া দিলো সবাইকে, 30 August https://www.bbc.com/bengali/news-45351512?ocid=socialflow_facebook
  21. MP urges aunt to release Bangladesh photographer Shahidul Alam, 28 August, The Sunday Times, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/mp-urges-aunt-to-release-bangladesh-photographer-w9tgs0svw

GCM Must Leave Bangladesh Now!

Memorandum of the Demonstration against AGM of Global Coal Resources Management Plc.

4 Hamilton Place, London, W1J 7BQ.

Tuesday, 12 December, 2017.

 

Photo credit: Keval Bharadia, South Asia Solidarity Group

Today we, the activists from Bangladesh, Tower Hamlets, and London’s environmental organisations, have gathered to call upon the AIM-listed London-based extractive company, GCM Resources Plc, to leave Bangladesh. The company, GCM Resources, is desperately moving to implement an immense open pit coal mine in northwest Bangladesh, forcibly displacing an estimated 130, 000 people and destroying the homes, lands, and water sources of as many as 220,000 people. If the project is implemented, it will destroy over 14,660 hecters of fertile agricultural land that produce three food crops annually, threatening to increase hunger in a country in which over a third of all children and nearly 17 percent of the entire population are undernourished.

 

GCM’s planned Phulbari coal mine has provoked repeated protests by local people. Three people were killed and over 200 injured when paramilitary officers opened fire on a protest against the project in August 2006. Protests in 2013 forced the company’s CEO, Gary Lye, to abandon a visit to the area.

 

The project has generated grave concern at national and international levels including the United Nations. On 28 February, 2012, seven UN human rights experts have called for an immediate halt to the project, citing threats to fundamental human rights, including the rights to water, food, adequate housing, freedom from extreme poverty and the rights of indigenous peoples. On  20 November, 2014, the UK government has concluded, following an investigation into GCM’s activities in Phulbari, that the company had breached the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises by failing to “foster confidence and mutual trust” with the people who would be affected by the mine. We welcome the Board’s affirmation that the 2011 Guidelines on human rights do apply to the planned conduct of an enterprise and its prospective impacts on human rights (para 6).  We welcome also the finding that the 2011 Guidelines would apply if GCM “continued to be “actively involved in the project” (para 19).  An internal review of the investigation affirmed that the OECD 2011 guidelines do apply to human rights abuses that would occur if the project went ahead.

But Global Coal Resources Management is aggressively moving ahead to implement Phulbari coal project. They are selling fraudulent shares in London’s Alternative Investors Market (AIM) –although the company does not have any valid contract with Bangladesh Government for business in Bangladesh and they do not have any other project elsewhere. It’s been 11 years since we have put a halt to the Phulbari coal project. The government in Bangladesh has declined to renew the contract for the project. GCM do not have any valid project in anywhere in the world. But they do hold an office in Bangladesh and the company’s corrupt CEO keep going back to Bangladesh to lobby MPs and politicians. We say they should leave Bangladesh now.

In 2011 and 2012, we have served two notices of eviction to GCM. Instead of leaving Bangladesh, GCM has been abusing communities and activists in Dinajpur and Phulbari. They are violating the guidelines of OECD.  The company’s Chief Executive Officer, Gary N Lye has filed multiple arbitrary cases against 26 frontline community defenders in a Bangladeshi court. These community defenders are farmers and small entrepreneurs who do not have as much as money as Lye to fight the cases in a court. Through the harassment and abuse of frontline community activists, the company embarked on a project to silence opponents to the Phulbari coal project.

 

The UK Committee  (National Committee) to Protect Oil- Gas-Mineral Resources and Port-Power in Bangladesh and Phulbari Solidarity Group, in conjunction with Foil Vedanta, London Mining Network, Reclaim the Power, Socialist Party of England and Wales, and all our co-worker organisations stand with the communities in Phulbari, Dinajpur and Bangladesh.  We will not be silent bywatcher. We demand, as National Committee of Bangladesh, that:

  1. GCM’s CEO, Gary N Lye, must withdraw all cases against activists in Bangladesh with immediate effect,
  2. GCM must stop selling shares in the name of Phulbari project in London’s Alternative Investors Market (AIM), and
  3. Finally, GCM must Leave Bangladesh immediately.

 

We declare, on behalf of the people in Phulbari, our resistance will not end until the above three-point demands are met. We will not give up until GCM has closed their office in Bangladesh, until they have stopped selling shares in the name of Phulbari coal project in London Stock Exchange.

The undersigned organisations:

Dr Mokhlesur Rahman, President, NCBD-UK branch

Sarbjit Johal, South Asia Solidarity Group

Michelle Easton, K M Protectors (North-east England)

Mostofa Farook , Bangladesh Socialist Party, UK branch

Miriam Rose, Foil Vedanta

Nesar Ahmed, Communist Party of Bangladesh – UK branch

Peter Mason, Socialist Party of England and Wales

Richard Roberts, Reclaim the Power

Richard Solly, London Mining Network

Rumana Hashem, Phulbari Solidarity Group

Sam Brown, Plane Stupid