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Vigils in London mark 14th anniversary of Phulbari Massacre

Ansar Ahmed Ullah:


On Wednesday, 26 August, activists and campaigners gathered outside the London Stock Exchange in a sombre vigil of remembrance & display of solidarity with Phulbari. Wearing green and laying white flowers, they observed the 14th anniversary of the killing of three young protesters, Al Amin, 11 years old, Salekin, 13 years old, & Tarikul, 18 years old, who were shot dead in 2006 while protesting the planned construction of an open cast coal mine in Phulbari, Bangladesh. This action took place in solidarity with those in Bangladesh and mirrored a silent rally of the Phulbari communities in Nimtoli corner. It aimed to put pressure on the LSE to de-list GCM.

GCM Resources PLC, formerly Asia Energy, are the British-based company behind the proposed mine. They continue to trade shares in their ‘Phulbari Coal Project’ today, despite having no valid asset to operate in Phulbari and no permission to mine anywhere in the world. In their 2019 Annual Report, GCM revealed that they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Power China, the Chinese state owned power company, to construct a coal fire power station in Phulbari. The coalition of activists from a range of climate justice and human rights groups, Phulbari Solidarity Group, London Mining Network, Labour Campaign for Human Rights, XR Youth Solidarity, XR Slough and Reclaim the Power demanded that GCM be de-listed from the stock exchange and no longer be allowed to trade shares.

Gathering to the sound of soft drumming outside the main entrance to the Stock Exchange, the campaigners proceeded to paint the names of the dead on a green banner in an act of commemoration. White flowers were laid and candles lit in their memory. The demands made of the LSE that GCM be de-listed were read aloud and, in keeping with the vigil also held today in Phulbari, Bangladesh, a 5 minute silence was observed.

Representatives of the Phulbari Solidarity Coalition then attempted to deliver a formal letter to the Stock Exchange, requesting that David Schwimmer, Chief Executive of the London Stock Exchange Group begin the process of de-listing GCM and launch an investigation into their activities.

In their letter, the Phulbari Solidarity Coalition alleges that GCM have engaged in fraudulent activity in continuing to sell shares in London based on a project that has no legal permission to go ahead in Bangladesh. Further, the letter suggested that the plan to build an open cast coal mine in the only flood protected region of northwest Bangladesh constitutes ecocide.

Dr Rumana Hashem, co-ordinator of Phulbari Solidarity Coalition and eye-witness to Phulbari shooting said, “London Stock Exchange has shown no respect to us. By rejecting our memo, and not letting the post room accept our letter the LSE has rather proved that they support unethical business of British companies who can incite violence overseas.

But I am inspired by the creatively powerful protest today, led by the coalition in which XR Youth Solidarity, XR Slough and London Mining Network played vital roles. This shows that Phulbari resistance will not die.  Our struggles will continue as a connected resistance against coal mining. We will come back to London Stock Exchange until the day this company has been delisted.”