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the AGM follows consultation with the venue over access and security issues, which has resulted in the venue being withdrawn as the location for the AGM.”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 Deput-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

 

Hundreds Signed the Berlin Declaration to Save the Sundarbans

By Rumana Hashem

The European Network of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports in Bangladesh (NCBD)  has demanded the cancellation of Bangladesh Government’s  destructive project of 1320 MW Rampal Coal based power plant situated near the world largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans. Rampal is situated very close to sensitive ecological zone – biosphere of Sundarbans, which is the ultimate home of hundreds of species and the Royal Bengal Tiger. The adjacent area of the mangrove has already become a hub of industries because of this mega scale power plant. Therefore, the committee has also demanded to formulate supportive policy and to take necessary steps for alternative energy solution in order to save lives and nature from coal pollution and to produce cheap and affordable electricity in future. 

To oppose the destructive Rampal Coal-Power Plant, a two-day international conference was held at the Democracy and Humanity Centre in Berlin, Germany on 19-20 August, 2017.  Along with spontaneous participation of senior academics and ecologists from Germany, and front-line Bangladeshi green activists, many international environmentalists and representatives from climate organisation’s joined the conference in Berlin to say ‘NO’ to Rampal Power Plant. Among the participants were a large number of Bangladeshi researchers, students and professionals from Europe who expressed grave concerns.

At the end of the two-day conference, a statement of what the conference organisers called the ‘Berlin Declaration’ was announced, urging the government to promote renewable energy in Bangladesh, thereby saving the Sundarbans. In solidarity with the declaration that was announced from the conference in Berlin, over a hundred of environmentalists and nature and biodiversity based organisations such as 350.org. Europe, Coal Action Network, Green Peace, Friends of the Earth,  London Mining Network, World Wild Foundation, Women Engage for the Common Future, Bank Truck, Reclaim the Power and more have signed the Berlin Declaration.  We echo the signatories of the Berlin Declaration.  We signed the declaration as below:

 

We, the participants and supporters of the Sundarbans Solidarity Action Networking and An Alternative Energy Solutions for Bangladesh, an international conference to be held on 19-20 August, 2017, organised by The National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas and Mineral Resources, Power and Ports in Bangladesh, the European Action Branch in Berlin have  signed the declaration as  follows:

 

The Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest of the world, is bestowed with magnificent scenic beauty and extraordinarily rich in biodiversity with a unique eco-system. It is a habitat of some of the endangered species e.g. Bengal Tiger, Ganges dolphin.  People living in adjacent areas are also dependent on this forest.  In addition to providing livelihood, it is also protecting millions of people living in the coastal belt from tidal surges and cyclones.

 

This forest is under severe threat from a Bangladesh-India joint venture project– Rampal Power Plant, a coal based power generating company. The plant is placed only 14 km from the forest. It is estimated that the plant will emit 7.9 million tons of CO2, and 0.94 million tons of ashes annually which will contaminate environment of the adjacent areas and will put the fragile ecosystem into critical condition. Despite the grave concerns raised by the experts, scientists, environmentalists, local population and international organisations, the Government of Bangladesh has been  moving ahead to implement the project for the last seven years. The project is scheduled to be completed within  the coming few years . To justify the project the government is blatantly giving false assurances to protect the forest from all  kinds of adverse impacts. The Government of India is also a major stakeholder of this joint-venture project and playing important roles as consultant, financier, and supplier of the equipment.

 

There is a growing demand of electricity in the country. To address the demand, the government has adopted a Power Sector Master Plan (PSMP) in 2016. The plan has proposed that the use of coal would increase from the current 0.3% to over 35%. The coal-fired power plants would produce electricity worth of 19,000 MW. It has also set the target to meet 10% of its electricity demand, by 2041, from its 7000 MW nuclear fleet, undermining the renewable energy potential. According to the PSMP 2016, the contribution of renewable energy would be only 3% of total electricity generation by 2041. This suggests that the government’s plan has failed to address environmental concerns and technical development in regards to renewable energy sources. Environment friendly renewable energy solutions are sustainable and cost effective and because of this, many countries in Europe and Asia including India and China are moving away from coal and nuclear based power generations.  Contrary to this, ignoring the growing positive shift , the government of Bangladesh has taken a position in support of dirty coal and nuclear based power generations.

 

Given this, the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports in Bangladesh (NCBD) has proposed an Alternative Power Sector Master Plan (APSMP) in July 2017. The APSMP 2017 has proposed to generate 55% of electricity from renewable energy sources including solar, wind, waste  and other green resources by 2041. The National Committee also  stipulates that there is an urgent need for the need for building national capability  that would attain 100% renewable energy usage to meet electricity demand of the country by 2050.  The NCBD has also categorically refuted the government’s arguments in regard to the nuclear and coal dependent energy policy.

 

We, the signatories of this declaration, view the NCBD proposed APSMP as a way forward to the current energy needs of Bangladesh.We  ask the government to listen to the NCBD’s suggestions for clean and renewable energy movement and protect the Sunderbans. We see it is the government’s duty to protect peoples’ interest rather than corporate greed and interest. As renewable energy is cheaper and eco-friendly, we demand a policy shift emphasizing renewable energy production rather than dirty coal energy generation. Renewable energy will protect ecology, life and livelihood of the people. The government must take appropriate steps to phase out coal and replace it with renewable energy sources in Bangladesh. The government ought to halt the Rampal Power Plant with immediate effect. As a coal based power plant, Rampal Plant will irreversibly damage the Sundarbans. It will disrupt the link between humans and the natural world by destroying ecology and species. This convention and the signatories of this declaration unequivocally demands immediate halt of the plant. We urge everyone to raise their voice to save  the Sundarbans, and to save our future.

 

Commemoration on Phulbari Day and Celebration of Over a Decade of Halt to an Open-Pit-Mine Held

By Raaj Manik

Friday, the 26th of August 2017 marks the 11th anniversary of Phulbari outburst when local activists, farmers, housewives and small entrepreneurs in Phulbari  have put a halt to a massive open-pit-coal mine by saying ‘NO’ to Global Coal Management (GCM) Resources Plc, an AIM-listed British mining company who want to build a massive open cast coal mine by forcibly displacing 130,000 people in Phulbari, a location in northwest Bangladesh.

 

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

 

On 26th August in 2006 three people were shot dead and two hundred injured in a demonstration of 80,000 people who marched against plans by the Global Coal Resources Management , formerly known as Asia Energy. The day has been dubbed Phulbari Day since. If the mine is built, 130,000 families of farmers in Phulbari would be forcibly displaced. It would destroy 14,600 hectares of highly cultivable land, would pose threats to clean water resources, and would leave devastative impact on one of the world’s largest mangrove forests and an UNESCO heritage site, the Sundarbans.

Phulbari outburst on 26 August 2006.

Pupils at Oxford’s Rose Hill Primary School painted banner against open cast mine to express solidarity with Phulbari people . 18 June 2015. Photo: Andy Edwards

Families of the victims and women protesters march towards Shahid Minar in Phulbari to pay tribute. 26 August 2015. Photo: Anonymous

Grand rally of locals in Phulbari town on 27 December 2014. Photo credit: Kallol Mustafa

The powerful resistance in the aftermath of the shooting against open-cast mine in Phulbari has put a decade long halt to the project. Government has cancelled the company’s license. Communities and climate activists at national and international levels formed a three-level resistance under the banner of National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports in Bangladesh (NCBD).  In support of the tremendous resilience in Phulabri, the National Committee (NCBD) held commemoration events in Bangladesh and London on Saturday 26 August in 2017. Like every year, the day was celebrated and the victims were remembered with respect by communities, simultaneously activists vowed to continue the struggle to end land grabbing and dirty coal power in Phulbari and elsewhere.

 

 

Despite grave concerns at national and international levels GCM is pushing the government to give it a go ahead. The company has changed its name from Asia Energy to Global Coal Management in 2010, and continued its dodgy deals and lobbying for Phulbari coal mine in Bangladesh.  Although GCM does not have a valid contract with Bangladesh, they are selling shares in the name of Phulbari coal project. Our strength is people power in and outside Phulbari. The halt to Phulbari coal project will continue.