After the massacre

Phulbari Solidarity
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Vigils in London and Bangladesh mark fourteenth anniversary of the Phulbari Massacre.

Demonstrators will create a piece of commemorative artwork, lay white flowers and observe five minutes of silence for Al Amin, Mohammad Salekin and Tarikul Islam.

Campaigners and activists will gather outside of the London Stock Exchange (LSE) at 11:30 tomorrow, 26 August, in a ‘Green Vigil’. The gathering will mark the fourteenth anniversary of the Phulbari Massacre, where three teenage boys were killed while protesting against GCM’s planned open cast coal mine.

‘Phulbari Day’ is officially recognised in Bangladesh and is observed with vigils and commemorations by Indigenous communities and anti-mining activists.

The vigil in London has been organised by the Phulbari Solidarity Group and London Mining Network, with support from Extinction Rebellion Youth Solidarity, Extinction Rebellion Slough, Reclaim the Power, and Labour Campaign for Human Rights. 

Solidarity 

Demonstrators will create a piece of commemorative artwork, lay white flowers and observe five minutes of silence for Al Amin, Mohammad Salekin and Tarikul Islam.

These three - aged 11, 13 and 18 respectively - were killed on 26 August 2006 while attending a peaceful demonstration against the eviction of Phulbari communities to make way for an open cast coal mine. More than 200 other demonstrators were injured.

The vigil takes place in solidarity with those in Bangladesh and mirrors a silent rally of the Phulbari communities in Nimtoli corner. It aims to put pressure on the LSE to de-list GCM. If this were to happen, GMC 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, the harassment of local communities and the fact that GCM holds no valid license to mine in Bangladesh as reasons to de-list the company. 

GCM have continued to move forward aggressively with their plans despite lacking any contract with the national government, which would displace up to 230,000 people and destroy up to 94 percent 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.

Coal

Speaking in August 2019 to the Prothom Alo newspaper, Nasrul Hamid, deputy state minister for power, energy and mineral resources,  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 is proceeding to take legal action against them.”

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

"I have witnessed GCM's violence in Phulbari, the only flood-protected location in northwest Bangladesh. Due to severe level of human rights violation in Phulbari by GCM’s Bangladesh subsidiary, Asia Energy, the government in Bangladesh declined to renew the company’s licence and the company lost its right to operate in 2006.

"Fourteen years on the company currently listed on AIM continues to grab money by selling deceitful shares in Phulbari coal project’s name in London’s share market.

"The Phulbari coal project does not exist. The company does not hold any valid asset to operate in Phulbari and does not have permission for mining anywhere in the world. Bangladesh's state minister stated that the government will take legal action against GCM."

Human rights 

Hashem continued: "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.

"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.”

Ian Byrne MP said: "The climate crisis is a human rights crisis. 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."

This Author 

Marianne Brooker is The Ecologist's content editor. This article is based on a press release from the Phulbari Solidarity Group. 

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