Activists from Foil Vedanta joined the Bangladeshi community and other organisations today at the AGM of GCM Resources – the UK based mining company who want to displace 220,000 people for a giant open cast coal mine in Phulbari, Bangladesh. As 40 protesters shouted slogans outside the Institute of Directors (IoD) where the AGM was being held, another group of activists blocked the entrance to the building by dumping coal in the doorway. Inside the AGM one activist dressed as Santa gave company chairman Gerard Holden a present of a stocking of coal.
Two activists from group Agitartworks dressed as GCM Resources executives kicked over a makeshift hut and covered a woman in coal as part of a street theatre outside the door. Police arrested them for breach of the peace but released them shortly after the demonstration.
At the same time inside the AGM an activist dressed as santa from Climate Justice Collective gave a stocking full of coal to the company chairman saying ‘you’ve been naughty this year’. The meeting was totally disrupted by activists from the Bangladeshi community and other organisations including World Development Movement and London Mining Network asking questions about the highly contentious Phulbari project. Foil Vedanta members gave speeches calling for solidarity between movements against mining companies and other corporations looting South Asia’s resources while benefitting from a cloak of London respectability.
In 2006 three people were killed and over 200 injured when paramilitary troops fired on a protest of some 80,000 demonstrators in Phulbari. If completed, it has been estimated that the project would destroy the homes, lands, and water sources of as many as 220,000 people, and forcibly evict an estimated 130,000 people.
Miner GCM Resources is the subject of a complaint to the Organisation for Co-operation and Development over the controversial coal mine. Emails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show the company also requested help to push the project forward from UK Trade & Investment.
Seven Special Rapporteurs of the United Nations issued a joint UN press release on 28 February, 2012, 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.” ??GCM Resources plc, an AIM-listed UK-based multinational company, is moving to implement the project despite the human rights and environmental concerns that have been raised.
The situation in Phulbari has been volatile since 22 Nov, 2012 when a 48 hour general strike halted trains, blockaded highways, and closed all shops, educational institutions etc. National press in Bangladesh reported that security forces including about 500 police, Rapid Action Battalion forces (denounced as “a death squad” by Human Rights Watch), and members of the Bangladeshi border guard have been deployed to Phulbari.
We declare solidarity with those affected and fighting in Bangladesh. From Niyamgiri to Phulbari – we will not allow these companies to loot precious lands in the name of development!!!
Coverage in UK national the Guardian ‘Bangladesh mine activists dump coal outside GCM meeting in London‘