Friday, December 28th, 2018

Stop the Coal Burglars: London Protesters Disrupted GCM’s AGM

Bangladeshi protesters and transnational campaigners against the development of coal mines in the Phulbari of Bangladesh blocked the entrance to the venue of the London based company GCM Resources’ annual general meeting in central London. Activists disrupted the AGM by occupying the front entrance for four hours from 9am on Friday, 28 December. All major shareholders including GCM’s Head of Corporate Affairs Brian Mooney were blocked out, they waited angrily outside, then gave up and went home. 

Three activists superglued themselves to the entrance turnstiles of the lavish building of 33 Cavendish Square where GCM had planned to hold their AGM. The activists self-identified as “Friends of Phulbari Solidarity” refused to move for the duration of the AGM until specialist police used solvents to detach them, then make arrests. Outside the building 30 more obstructed the entrance holding banners, chanting slogans and singing Christmas carols against the bullying coal mining company.

If the mine is built, it would lead to forceddisplacement of up to 230, 000 people over the 36 year life cycle of the project. It will increase poverty, water pollution and will plunder 14,600 hecters of Bangladesh’s most fertile and productive agricultural land in the region, causing a crisis of food production. It will have a devastating impact on the people and the environment. In return Bangladesh government would gain nothing but economic exploitation, said activists at Phulbari Solidarity Group.

Construction of the plant is dependent on approval from the Bangladeshi government who previously shelved plans for the development following massive protests in 2006. The 80,000 people’s peaceful and powerful march was attacked by paramilitary forces resulting in the deaths of three protesters and injured 220 more. Abuse by the bullying UK company was furthered by the recent arbitrary cases against community leaders by GCM’s CEO. Gary Lye filed multiple arbitrary cases against 26 frontline local leaders for opposing the proposed coal mine in 2016.

Friday’s colourful and vibrant protest addressed these issues. On November 27, 2018 GCM Resources claimed to have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Power China to develop a giant coal mine in Phulbari and to build a 4000 MW power plant, which made activists particularly angry. An eye witness to the Phulbari shooting and the spokesperson of the Phulbari Solidarity Group, Dr Rumana Hashem has conveyed a statement from 50 communities in the region, signed by 134 community leaders from Phulbari challenging GCM’s so called MoU with China Power. Dissident shareholders were to hand in the petition to GCM’s chairman Michael Tang. But Tang was not in attendance. Activists say that Tang was worried about the protest.

The protest was co-organised by the Phulbari Solidarity Group, the UK branch of the Bangladesh National Committee,  Reclaim the Power, and Extinction Rebellion. They were joined by Foil Vedanta, Cambridge Zero Carbon Society, Christian Climate Action, London Mining Network, 350.org and Udichi Shilpi Gosthi, UK. 

Three activists who passionately glued themselves to the entrance were arrested, and later released before 24 hours.They were charged with £4000 for so called criminal damages. But the activists are proud to have joined and supported the Phulbari people.

“Currently Bangladesh produces very little of its electricity from coal and whilst many other countries in the world are looking to transitioning away from coal, the Bangladesh government is planning to massively expand energy production through coal. “ We have published an alternative plan for power generation that demonstrates there is no need to take disastrous path of coal mining and coal power plants to meet power demand in Bangladesh” –  said Akhter Sobhan Khan of CPRB.

“The construction of any new coal power plant is inconceivable given the findings of the IPCC report released in October 2018. Every ton of coal burned makes an immediate contribution to the quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere causing long term and irreversible climate change. We need to keep fossil fuels in the ground now to ensure that we stay below 1,5 degrees in order to avoid catastrophic environmental breakdown”, stated Hoda Baraka of Global Communications Director of 350.org.

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What is the status of the project now?

On November 27, Global Coal Management Resources signed a memorandum of understanding with Power Construction Corporation of China, Ltd (Power China), to develop the coal mine in Phulbari and build a power plant. The company states that: “The MOU embodies the principles of a cooperative relationship between the two parties to develop the Company’s proposed coal mine as well as power plants generating up to 4,000 MW at the mine site, and sets out the steps towards a future Joint Development Agreement, obtaining approval from the Government of Bangladesh and subsequent development of both the mine and power plants generating 4000MW.”

Protest on 28th December 2018, London, outside GCM’s AGM:

GCM wanted to hold their AGM in London on 28 December, but Bangladesh diaspora along with allies did disrupt the AGM. A powerful, jolly and incredibly noisy protest was held outside the venue which has disrupted GCM’s aggressive plans to start mining in Phulbari.

Date: 28 December, 2018

Time: 9am-1pm

Venue: 33 Cavendish Square, London W1G 0PW.

Organised by:

Notes:

A detailed report on the protest is accessible on PSG blog: https://wp.me/p2ZU1R-nK

A copy of the statement from Phulbari community leaders is accessible here: https://wp.me/p2ZU1R-ov

A report on the AGM is here: http://londonminingnetwork.org/2018/12/the-sound-and-the-fury-yet-another-gcm-agm/  

For photos and footages, please contact Golam Rabbani: [email protected]

Contact

 Akhter S Khan

Org: CPRB, UK

Email: akhtersk@gmail.com

Phone: +44 7714288221

Golam Rabbani

Org: Phulbari Solidarity Group

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 07861686036

Richard Roberts

Org: Reclaim the Power

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 07740 782408