Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

‘Ban Open pit, Oust Asia Energy (GCM), Stop illegal share business on Phulbari coal mine by GCM’

Phulbari Day observed

Thousands of people demand on Phulbari day, tougher agitation threatened if demands not met by December 31

The people of Phulbari and different organizations including National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports (National Committee) observed the ‘Phulbari Day’ on August 26, 2012, in remembrance of the peoples uprising against open-pit coal-mining bid by a foreign company Asia Energy (now GCM) at Phulbari in northern district Dinajpur on August 26, 2006.

On the day in 2006, the National Committee declared a ‘gherao’ (siege) of the Asia Energy field office in Phulbari. From the morning, processions came streaming into the town, gathered at the Phulbari Dhaka moar and GM Pilot High School. After delivering speeches there, the leaders led a procession of nearly 80 thousand women men Bangalee and indigenous people towards the Asia Energy office there. Police and BDR obstructed them on the way at the bridge over Choto Jomuna River after Nimtali corner. After getting assurance from the district administration about withdrawal of Asia energy from the area, the leaders declared end of the programme with relevant ultimatum. Afer few moments, BDR fired on the protesters.

Three young boys– Tariqul, Al-Amin and Salekin– were killed on the spot and hundreds were injured, 50 were bullet-hit, and 200 others injured in baton charge when law enforcers turned brutal on the agitators who joined the gathering. It was cold-blooded murder on behalf of the Asia Energy to terrorize agitating people. Section 144 was declared in the area. But people did not stop.

The next day, 27 August 2006, the protestors called a strike for an indefinite period. Roads and rail routes to and from Phulbari were blocked. Asia Energy officials fled from the area, BDR were withdrawn on August 28. Protestors were in control of all the four thanas and the town. People all over the country including capital city Dhaka expressed their solidarity by different means. National Committee declared countrywide strike on 30 August, 2006.

After days of strikes and of protest demonstrations, the then BNP-led government signed a six-point agreement on August 30 with the protesters, spearheaded by the national committee to expel Asia Energy from Bangladesh and ban on open-pit mining.

The former opposition leader and the incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited Phulbari on September 4, 2006, and made a strong announcement that she would resist any move to operate any open-pit mining there, as well as any other places in the country. Sheikh Hasina had also extended her full support to the six-point agreement that the committee signed on behalf of the people of Phulbari with the then BNP-led four-party government for cancelling the contract with Asia Energy for mining the Phulbari coal-field and for banning open-pit mining.

The people have not forgotten the Phulbari killing, uprising, and about this agreement and also about the commitment. These all are living in their memory. Therefore people expressed anger at the non-implementation of the main articles of the agreement as Asia Energy is still active in lobbying and is making money in fraudulent share market business. Hired criminals and consultants are busy in working for the disastrous project

The people in Phulbari and around the country carried out different programmes on 26 August this year, including hoisting of black flag, wearing black badges, mourning and protest rally, placing floral wreaths on the martyrs memorial and discussions to mark the day. About ten thousand people from Phulbari, Nawabganj, Parbatipur and Birampur upazilas joined the programme at Phulbari. Elected representatives, Upazilla Chairperson Aminul Islam Bablu and Mayor of Phulbari Manik Sarkar led different processions to demand ban on open pit mining and expulsion of Asia energy (GCM) from the country. Different chapters of National Committee around the country took similar programmes including at Dhaka central Shahid Minar.

In the memorial meeting at Phulbari, National Committee threatened to launch a tougher agitation programme from January next year if Phulbari agreement was not implemented by December 31 this year. They also demanded to stop fraudulent share business by GCM on Phulbari coal mine in London AIM. The leaders of the committee gave the deadline at a rally held at Nimtola intersection where they reminded Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina that she was committed to implement the Phulbari agreement which was signed between the former BNP-led government and the National Committee in 2006 on the issue.

The National Committee also announced a countrywide agitation programme on September 2 to mount pressure on the government to meet the demands of the National Committee including peoples ownership over their own resources, implement Phulbari agreement, ensure energy security, cancel bad deals, to ban on open pit and export of mineral resources and strengthening national capability.