Surround GCM! Surround the Dirty Coal Miners! Flyer for Demo 2014

Surround GCM! Surround the Dirty Coal Miners!

Action to Save Lives and to Halt the Devastating Phulbari Coal Project

Phulbari 2014

Tuesday, 9 December 2014 at 10:30am-12pm

Venue: 4 Hamilton Place, London, W1J 7BQ

An AIM-listed London-based multinational company, GCM Resources Plc, 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 acres of fertile agricultural land that produce three food crops annually, threatening to increase hunger in a country in which nearly half of all people currently live below the nutrition poverty line.

Phulbari Demo Flyer 2014

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Locals have protested the project for seven years by forming powerful human chains and rallies. On 26 August 2006, three people were killed and over 200 injured when paramilitary troops fired on a massive protest of some 80,000 demonstrators in Phulbari. But people in Phulbari are determined to resist this project and to stop GCM Resources plc. The potential for violence has remained high in this project ever since August 2006. Last year the situation sparked by the CEO’s planned visit to Phulbari. People in Phulbari have given verdict against this project. We have served two eviction notices to the company. On 28 February, 2012, seven Special Rapporteurs of the United Nations issued a joint UN press release, calling for an immediate halt to the project on the grounds that it threatens the fundamental human rights of hundreds of thousands of people, including entire villages of indigenous people, and poses “an immediate threat to safety and standards of living.” Still GCM is aggressively moving on to implement this open pit coal mine ignoring the human rights and environmental degradation the project would leave.

We want to teach GCM to keep its hands off Bangladesh. We will surround the corrupted miners this December at their AGM. Will you join us in surrounding the dirty coal miners? Will you tell GCM to leave this project?

For further information contact akhtersk@gmail.com or phulbarisolidaritygroup@gmail.com. Visit https://phulbarisolidaritygroup.wordpress.com/, http://protectbdresources.org.uk,www.ncbd.org

Download PDF of Flyer.
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The UK branch of the National Committee to Protect Oil-Gas Mineral Resources and Port-Power in Bangladesh.

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UK urges GCM Resources to assess human rights impact of Bangladesh coal mine

Today, Thursday, 20th Nov 2014, the UK government has urged British company GCM Resources to assess how its planned coal mine in Bangladesh would affect the human rights of local people, and has condemned the company for breaching international guidelines on ethical corporate behaviour. Its findings, released today, state that the project “has aroused considerable opposition in Bangladesh, leading to violent protests, and an even more violent response by the authorities there.”

The UK government statement follows an investigation into GCM’s activities in the Phulbari region of north-west Bangladesh, where it wants to open a massive open-pit coal mine. The investigation concluded 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.

The investigation failed to consider how the mine would affect the people of Phulbari if it were built, and its conclusions were limited to GCM’s record in the planning phase of the project to date. An internal review of the investigation affirmed that the OECD guidelines do apply to human rights abuses that would occur if the project went ahead. However, the final report failed to address the concrens of the internal review and did not correct the decision to exclude all potential impacts of the project from the investigation.

The investigation followed a complaint submitted by the World Development Movement and International Accountability Project.

Christine Haigh, campaigner at the World Development Movement, said:
“The UK government’s investigation is right in pointing to the company’s failures to date. But by omitting to consider the inevitable effects this mine would have on the region’s population, the investigation does little to ensure that their rights are protected. If it goes ahead, the Phulbari coal mine will be a human rights disaster. Local people have repeatedly made it clear that they don’t want it and GCM should expect continued resistance if it pushes ahead against their wishes.”

 
Kate Hoshour from International Accountability Project said:
“There are grave concerns about the high risk of further violence in Phulbari if GCM persists in its efforts to force this project forward despite massive local opposition. The UK government should be taking all possible action to avert further harm, rather than restricting its assessment to harm that has already been inflicted. The government should also recognize and condemn the ongoing violation of the rights to self-determination and to free, prior, and informed consent for indigenous peoples who have been fighting to halt this project since 2006.”

Rumana Hashem, co-ordinator of Phulbari Solidarity Group and an eye witness to the protests against the project where three people were killed in 2006, said:
“It is good that the UK NCP has recognised the considerable opposition to this project in Bangladesh. But the investigators simply failed to highlight the concerns for human rights violations and the severity of the issues. I have seen how local people died protesting about how the project would rob them of their homes and land, and how the locals have resisted the project so far. I am appalled that after receiving several first-hand accounts from Phulbari, the UK government has reduced its recommendations to this narrow framework.”

Locals cried out to save their homes, lands and lives in Phulbari following the shooting by GCM-provoked shooting by Bangladesh paramilitary. Photo: 27 August 2006

Locals cried out to save their homes, lands and lives in Phulbari following the shooting by GCM-provoked Bangladesh paramilitary. Photo: 27 August 2006

She added: “This report is contradictory. The internal review of the investigation affirmed that the OECD guidelines apply to human rights abuses that would occur if the project went ahead but the final report failed to advise their company to stay away from this devastating project. Despite the failure of the UK government to hold this UK-based company to account, it is clear that the people of Phulbari will resist GCM’s project going ahead.”

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

The mine would force up to 220,000 people from their land, destroying their homes and livelihoods, and would threaten the Sundarbans – one of the world’s largest remaining mangrove forests and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The UK government states that GCM must take into account the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which stipulates that no developments can take place on indigenous peoples’ land without their ‘free, prior and informed consent’. Bangladesh’s National Indigenous Union says the mine would displace or impoverish 50,000 indigenous people from 23 villages.

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.
The original complaint submitted by International Accountability Porject and the World Development Movement

UK NCP final statement: complaint from IAP and WDM against GCM Resources Plc in Bangladesh

Find the press release by World Development Movement here

The Daily Star Report here

The Dhaka Tribune’s bias report here

 

Struggle and Resistance, NOT Submission

Verdict in London meeting about Corporate Plundering of the Energy and Power Sector in Bangladesh

By Raaj Manik

On a sunny Sunday, the 28th of September 2014, the Bangladeshi community organisers and environmental campaigners have made it explicit once again that Bangladeshis will not tolerate any corporate plundering of the Energy and Power Sector in Bangladesh. In a packed meeting at the Montefiore Centre in East London, an estimated 55 transnational activists and community representatives condemned the plundering of Bangladesh by companies such as the UK based Global Coal Management Resources (GCM), and American multinational energy corporations, namely ConcoPhillips, Chevron, and Occidental.

Key note speaker, Prof Anu Muhammad (from left) and the Chairperson of the UK branch of National Committee. Photo credit:  Paul Dudman

Key note speaker, Prof Anu Muhammad (from left), and the Chairperson of the UK branch of National Committee. Photo credit: Paul Dudman

The event kicked in by a key note speech by a distinguished economist and the secretary of the Committee to Protect Oil Gas and Natural Resources in Bangladesh, Professor Anu Muhammad, who was visiting the UK. In his two-hour presentation, Muhammad explored the illegitimate and corrupted activities of various multinational companies in Bangladesh and discussed how these company-aggressions are causing severe threats to Bangladesh’s environment, people’s livelihood and human rights. He highlighted the aggression of a UK based company, GCM Resources, in particular. Despite huge protests and three deaths, GCM is still pressing ahead with a massive open-cast coal mining operation in Phulbari, the north-west Bangladesh, which will displace up to 200,000 people, destroy over 14,660 acres of agricultural land and devastate the water resources of another 220,000 people. If implemented, 94% of the revenue generated by the planned mine will be taken by GCM, leaving only 6% for the government. ‘It is a daylight robbery’, says Anu Muhammad.

But the ‘spirit of resistance is still very active’, he added. Three activists were killed during a mass movement which forced the government to completely withdraw the entire open-cast coal mining operation in Phulbari in 2006, a promise it appears not to be keeping. People’s powerful resistance has forced the GCM’s chief executive, Gary Lye, to cancel his plans to visit Phulbari last year. Due to the ‘volatile situation prevailed at Dinajpur’s Phulbari’ in Bangladesh, Gary left the area, quickly, with the help of the District Commissioner and local police. There were all-day protests against his visit by locals ‘carrying sticks’ and ‘home-made dusting brushes’.

Audience with Anu Muhammad and leaders of UK branch of National Committee. Photo credit: Socialist Party of England and Wales

Audience with Anu Muhammad and leaders of UK branch of National Committee. Photo credit: Socialist Party of England and Wales

Anu Muhammad says, Bangladesh is a fertile country, rich in water and mineral wealth. In the mid-1990s, the World Bank promoted the privatisation of gas, oil and other natural resources in Bangladesh with the promise that it would bring ‘cheap gas and save huge amounts of money for the public exchequer’. But ‘that is the opposite of the case’,  Muhammad explained. Oil and gas companies like ConcoPhillips and Chevron moved in and now the cost of production is anything from 10 to 30 times more than it was in the hands of Petrobangla, the government-owned national oil company of Bangladesh. Muhammad argued that while it costs 1 billion taka to drill an oil well, the cost in the hands of Unocal Bangladesh, bought by Chevron in 2005, was 15 billion. One energy project estimated at 20 billion taka cost 180 billion.
‘Sustainable power solutions are not possible with these greedy corporations’, the Professor stated. He argues, ‘while renewable energy’ has huge potential and a real future’, the government is not considering those sources under heavy pressure of the multinational companies. Meanwhile 5 billion in US dollars (387 billion Bangladesh taka) is owed by US and Canadian corporations in unpaid compensation for accidents and Chevron effectively pays ‘nothing in tax but claims to be the number one taxpayer’. Every penny Chevron pays in tax is refunded by the government through Petrobangla. Professor Muhammad asked, ‘so who is running the country?’

Anu Muhammad’s speech was followed by 12 speakers and campaigners, each of whom expressed their determination to continue the campaign against corporations’ aggression in Bangladesh. Rumana Hashem, the coordinator of Phulbari Solidarity Group and an eye witness to the killing of three people by Asia Energy (thereafter GCM) in Phulbari in 2006, argued that it is not only the corporations but also the governments in UK promote the ruination of Bangladesh by multinational companies. She said that in 2009 the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) in UK did not consider her eye witness and evidence of human rights violation in Phulbari by the Global Coal Management. ‘But they did consider the company’s dodgy response to our report’, she added.

Rumana Hashem, the Coordinator  of Phulbari Solidarity Group on 28 Sep 2014 . Photo credit:  Paul Dudman

Rumana Hashem, the Coordinator of Phulbari Solidarity Group on 28 Sep 2014 . Photo credit: Paul Dudman

In their published report the JCHR  initially noted that the report, co-authored by Rumana Hashem and Paul Dudman, was not published in order to save printing cost. Later on, while contacted about the reasons for such financial hardship of the UK Parliament, the clerk of the JCHR changed the tone and told that the information which ‘they have provided were too sensitive in nature’. ‘As though it is not insensible when British company killed our people in Phulbari’, Hashem said in pointing out the politics behind this story. She provided a report on how the UK governments are failing to respond to Bangladeshi and transnational environmentalist campaigners’ call for closing down unethical business of British corporations in Bangladesh. She said, ‘a series of FOI requests, carried out by London Mining Network in 2012 and World Development Movement in 2014, suggest further bias of UK government’. Hashem concluded her speech by calling upon the forum to stand up and to prepare for a ‘tough battle’. She said, ‘we stand for struggle and resistance, not submission’.
The forum responded to her call for struggle and resistance by a big clap. Speakers invited to the meeting included World Development Movement, the Socialist Party (England and Wales), the Communist Party of Britain, and the Socialist and Communist Parties of Bangladesh alongside the Phulbari Solidarity Group who are continuing to advocate and campaign to stop the GCM. Despite brief attempts to drown out the discussion by a group of unruly Bangladeshi government supporters who had taken an adjoining room, speakers and campaigners against multinational company aggression in Bangladesh clearly stated their firm position and declared that they are not going to tolerate ruination of Bangladesh.  Effie Jordan of World Development Movement asserted that WDM will continue to work with the people of Bangladesh and will advocate for a permanent halt of the Phulbari project.

Pete Mason of Socialist Party (Tower Hamlets Borough) expresses solidarity to fight multinational company. Photo credit: Paul Dudman

Pete Mason of Socialist Party (Tower Hamlets Borough) expresses solidarity to fight multinational company. Photo credit: Paul Dudman

Pete Mason of Socialist Party emphasised,  ‘the Socialist Party’s demand for public ownership of the UK energy industry – and this would of course include GCM. In addition, the Socialist Party demands that compensation should only be given to the share owners in cases of genuine need’. He called for an ‘ecologically-minded, democratically drawn up socialist plan of production to end the madness of capitalist exploitation of the planet and the dangerous global warming that has resulted. This would end the profit-motivated depredation of Bangladesh by companies like GCM’.

The invited speakers of the UK branch of the Committee to Protect Oil Gas and Natural Resources in Bangladesh expressed their determination to stop multinational companies’ corrupted activities through their ongoing campaigns. The public meeting was organised by the UK branch of the Committee to Protect Oil Gas and Natural Resources in Bangladesh. The meeting started by a welcome speech by Akhter Sobhan Khan Masroor, the Secretary of the Committee, and ended by a vote of thanks by Mokhlesur Rahman, the Chairperson of the Committee. The event was endorsed by the Phulbari Solidarity Group, London Mining Network, World Development Movement, International Accountability Project (USA), Socialist Party (England and Wales), the Communist Party of Britain,  Jubo Union, Friends of Bangladesh Students Union, and several Bangladeshi community organisations in London.

Farzana Majid of Bangladesh Sector Commander Forum  expresses solidarity to the National Committee's campaign against Corporate Plundering in Bangladesh. Photo credit: Paul Dudman

Farzana Majid of Bangladesh Sector Commander Forum expresses solidarity to the National Committee’s campaign against Corporate Plundering in Bangladesh. Photo credit: Paul Dudman

Communist party of UK leader expresses solidarity. Photo credit: Paul Dudman

Communist party of UK leader expresses solidarity. Photo credit: Paul Dudman

Public meeting on the Plundering of the Energy and Power Sector in Bangladesh by British Corporations

The Committee to Protect Oil-Gas- Mineral Resources in Bangladesh, The UK Branch  invites everyone to join a public meeting with a distinguished economist and environmentalist Professor Anu Muhammad, who comes to London from Bangladesh to meet the activists in London this Sunday.

What: Public meeting on Corporate Plundering of the Energy and Power Sector in Bangladesh

When: Sunday the 28th September, at 5 pm.

Where: Montefiore Centre, Hanbury Street, E1 5HZ , London.

Key note speaker: Professor Anu Muhammad, a distinguished  Economist and the Member Secretary of the National Committee to Protect Oil Gas and Natural Resources in Bangladesh. DSC00357

The meeting has been organised by the  Committee to Protect Oil, Gas and Natural Resources in Bangladesh, The UK Branch. In their call out for defending public resources and environment in Bangladesh the Committee notes that:

Multinational corporation such as the UK’s Global Coal Management Resources Plc (GCM), is aggressively moving to undermine Bangladesh through plundering its energy sector and damaging the environment. Through implementing a massive open pit coal mine in the north-west of Bangladesh, the government-backed British company, the GCM, wants to bring in devastating impact on Bangladesh’s environment and human rights. The proposed Phulbari project alone would displace 200,000 people, destroy over 14,660 acres of fertile agricultural land, obliterate water sources of 220,000 people, and lower the ground water by 15-20 meter in the region. It will also damage social and ecological spheres, pollutants will contaminate water bodies, rivers and the entire lower riparian. Bangladesh will get 6% loyalty and 94% revenue will be taken by GCM!

While the communities in the north-west region in Bangladesh is powerfully resisting the proposed coal-mine project,  the governments in Bangladesh and UK remain silent – encouraging the devastation to go ahead and allowing also to set up a coal fired power plant which would affect the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest. The proposed  1320 MW Rampal coal fired power plant is an India-Bangladesh joint venture. Sundarbans is under threat as Rampal power plant will emit huge carbon, toxic gases, smoke and ash which will have devastating environmental impact and may destroy the forest as the project area lies only 10 KM away from the forest. In addition, the Government, encouraged by the corporations, are adding on another power plant proposed by Bangladeshi Business Group, Orion, to set up very close to the vicinity of the Sundarbans. Sunday’s public meeting has been organised to address these issues and to find ways to abolish those harmful and devastating interferences of multinational corporations in Bangladesh.

A devastating gas explosion occurred on 14 June 1997 while oil and gas company Occidental was drilling at Magurchara, northeast Moulovibazar district in Bangladesh. The explosion destroyed about 700 acres of reserved forest and 10 tea gardens, damaged environment, ecology and wildlife around. It is estimated that 250 billion cft gas was destroyed in this accident and its value stands nearly $2.5 billion, which must be recognised by the responsible company. They are yet to acknowledge their responsibilities.

Rather, the  world’s multinational corporations are moving aggressively to destroy Bangladesh. Chevron Bangladesh is asking for tariff hike for offshore oil and gas exploration. ConcoPhillips, an American multinational energy corporation, has also demanded offshore gas exploration contact for 80% of loyalty and export facility. All of these companies make Bangladesh as an object of lottery and a source of their fortune by exploitation and corruption.

These evil deals and production share contract (PSC) are working against Bangladesh’s interest. Instead of fixing irregularities and corruption, the government is expanding the authority of local and foreign companies to control energy and power sector, causing more drainage of public money and vulnerability of the country. We can’t allow plundering and destruction of Bangladesh in such a way. We call for global support to stop the deleterious power plant and open pit coal projects. We need your support and solidarity to strengthen local and global fight against corporate plundering.

Professor Anu Muhammad, a distinguished economist from Bangladesh and a key activist against corporate plundering of energy resources in Bangladesh, will be addressing these and related issues. A public meeting will be held on this Sunday, the 28th September, 2014 at 5pm at Montefiore Centre, Hanbury Street, E1 5HZ , London.

This is an opportunity to hear from Anu Mohammad. He has been fighting against open pit coal mine in Phulbari and Rampal coal based power plant for protecting world largest mangrove forest Sudarban and playing a pioneering role to defend oil gas, natural resources, environment and ecology in Bangladesh.

Phulbari Solidarity Group expresses their full solidarity with the aim of the public meeting organised by the UK Committee to Protect Oil, Gas and Natural Resources in Bangladesh. With solidarity to struggle and resistance we invite everybody to come and share our struggle for equality and social justice. Come and join us along with friends! Feel free to share this invite to all who may support our cause!  Do not let the government-backed corporations to undermine human rights, plunder our resources or damage environment!

 

For further information visits: http://www.protectbdresources.org.uk/

Contact: nationalcommittee.uk@googlemail.com

 

 

Phulbari Day 2014 observed in Phulbari

The translated version of the NCBD press statement

by Samina Luthfa

On 26th August 2014, the 8th anniversary of the Phulbari Mass uprising has been observed countrywide with the following slogan: ‘There is no place for the betrayers on the streets of Phulbari drenched with the blood of our martyrs’. Daylong programmes were observed in Phulbari that included mourning procession, wearing black badge, hoisting black flag, rally and cultural activities of resistance.  Phulbari 3

The day’s programme started at 7 am with placing respect to the Martyrs and wearing of black badges. In remembrance of the martyrs and their sacrifice all shops and businesses were closed that day. Black flags were hoisted in many places.

The Central National committee organized the Mourning procession, and at the end, a minutes’ silence for the fallen was organised. A at the Neemtoli morh fter this, we had a rally expressing our demands that include;

  1. Full implementation of the Phulbari accord
  2. Moving the office of Asia Energy from their town.
  3. Activities around opening up of Boro Pukuria was condemned.

Member secretary of the National Committee Prof Anu Muhammad delivered the welcome address, convener of national committee Engineer Sheikh Shahidullah spoke about the demands, and Saiful Islam Jewel presided the meeting.

Leaders of Jatyo Ganofront, Bangladesh Communist Party, Bangladesh Socialist Party, Bangladesh Workers party, Revolutionary workers’ party, BaSoD convention preparation committee, Democratic Revolutionary party, Gano Shonghoti Andolon, United Communist League, leaders of Phulbari Branch of the national committee spoke in the occasion. Many other local, regional political organization, individuals including Bablu Roy (person injured by the Rana plaza disaster) and university teacher were also present in the program.

In the rally, the speakers remembered the day in 2006 to emphasize how remarkably people of Phulbari defied law enforcers, attended the rally in thousands aPhulbari142nd after the murder of the three, people here mounted one of the greatest resistance in Bangladesh against the company. As a result, on the 30 August 2006, the then government was forced to sign an accord with the protestors of the company that said there will be no open pit mine and Asia Energy would have to leave. The current Prime minister promised Phulbari people that she would never let this mine start. However, surprisingly, with the same person now as the head of State, we have not seen a transparent step to ban Asia energy.

The rally demanded the full implementation of The Phulbari accord by the 30th November. Failure to do so will incur a huge rally of people on the 1st December. In the afternoon, resistance songs and plays were performed. In the evening, film shows titled, ‘We don’t want a mine’, ‘Fulbari – a Blood flag’ and Indian documentary named ‘Fulbari debona’ were screened.