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From The Socialist newspaper, 14 January 2009

Bangladesh: Protesters denounce global mining corporation

A PEACEFUL and powerful demonstration against Global Coal Management (GCM) Resources Plc and its destructive open coal mining activities in Phulbari, northern Bangladesh, took place in London outside GCM's annual general meeting on 16 December* 2008.

Rumana Hashem

Bangladeshi residents in the UK, together with representatives from London Mining Network, World Development Movement as well as members of the UK branch of the Bangladesh National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Port and Power, attended the demonstration.

In August 2006, about 80,000 people, led by the citizen's platform took part in protests against the mine. The paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles, allegedly provoked by Asia Energy officials, opened fire on the demonstration.

The bloodshed left five civilians dead and at least 150 seriously wounded. Asia Energy Corp subsequently changed its name to Global Coal Management after the 2006 killings in Phulbari to GCM Resources Plc in December 2007.

Later, on 30 August, following a five-day long hunger strike and non-stop demonstration in Phulbari, the Rajshahi city mayor, Mizanur Rahman, eventually signed an agreement with the protesters on behalf of the government to scrap the deal with Asia Energy as well as to ban all open-pit mining in Bangladesh.

However, the government has yet to scrap the deal with Asia Energy and instead is working on a coal policy which in its current draft form would allow open coal mining.

The rally pledged that the resistance and protest against the Phulbari open pit mining project will continue in the UK until the official scrapping of the deal with Asia Energy in Bangladesh.

Directors leaving the AGM were left in no doubt about the strength of feeling against the project within the Bangladeshi community.

  • [The date -16 December (1971) - is celebrated as victory independence day in Bangladesh.]
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