Police blocked entrances to London Stock Exchange today during protests against British mining company GCM Resources
A letter from a coalition of twelve organisations asks the London Stock Exchange to investigate and de-list GCM for criminal and fraudulent activities. Dramatic protests took place at the London Stock Exchange today as scores of police blocked off both entrances to the LSE with barriers and police lines in an attempt to stop protesters entering the building. The protesters, wearing all black, held a vigil outside the blocked entrance in commemoration of the massacre of three teenage boys during a non-violent protest against AIM listed Global Coal Management Resources plc (GCM) by communities around a proposed coal mine in Phulbari in 2006(1).
Further protests will take place in Bangladesh on the official Phulbari Day on Monday 26th August. The UK protests were organised by Phulbari Solidarity Group and the UK Committee to Protect Natural Resources in Bangladesh (2) with a coalition of other organisations.
Protesters echoed calls in their letter to Chief Financial Officer of the LSE, David Warren, demanding that GCM is investigated and de-listed from the London Stock Exchange for fraudulent and criminal activities.(3) The protesters in London targeted David Warren personally, asking him to come and meet them and demanding that he take their complaints seriously and immediately de-list GCM. They shouted “London Stock Exhange, shame on you!” and “David Warren – blood on your hands” during the protest which lasted over four hours with many onlookers throughout.
A survivor and eye witness of the 2006 massacre spoke passionately about the ongoing suffering and harassment of people in Phulbaribi GCM Resources.
Deputy leader of the Green Party in England and Wales, Amelia Womack, who attended the demonstration, said:
“The Phulbari coal project symbolises a threat to people, lives and human rights in Bangladesh. We stand with the protesters demanding that the London Stock Exchange de-list GCM Resources for their violations.”
Meanwhile in Bangladesh, indigenous communities and thousands of anti-mine activists will commemorate the lost lives by forming Red and Black vigils under the banner of National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports in
Bangladesh on 26th August. The communities and families of victims will pay tribute with flowers to the memorial of the three dead at the Phulbari Memorial. The vigils demand that government must ban open cast coal mine, that Phulbari Day must be declared as the National Fossil Free Energy Day and government should implement the Phulbari Day Verdict by taking legal action against GCM immediately.
On 26 August 2006 three boys Amin (13), Salekin (16) and Tariqul (19) were shot dead, and more than two hundred injured in a non-violent demonstration of 80,000 people against plans for an open cast coal mine by GCM’s subsidiary Asia Energy. The eight million ton mine would forcibly displace 130,000 people from Phulbari in northwest Bangladesh.
Construction of the plant is dependent on approval from the Bangladeshi government who previously shelved plans for the development following huge protests. Subsequently GCM’s CEO Gary Lye has filed multiple cases against 26 community organisers in Phulbari and Dinajpur claiming he has felt ‘harassed’ when he visited the area in an attempt to continue coal mining plans in 2014.
Nuruz Zaman, a survivor of Phulbari shooting and a local community organiser of the 2006 Phulbari Day protest in Phulbari says:
“GCM is a fraudulent and murderer company who killed three of our young people for simply watching over a non-violent demo. The company’s CEO, Gary Lye, laughed after the killing on television. They bribed our police and border security guards to kill us and poison our society. They created violence which left three killed and 220 injured even before the company was awarded approval for mining in our Phulbari. They do not have a license, there is no project in Phulbari. We halted the mine 13 years ago. But GCM are selling shares in London Stock Exchange in the name of Phulbari. They continue abusing us. GCM’s arbitrary court cases against myself and 25 other community organisers in Phulbari claimed 1billion taka (BDT 100 crore) for so called harassments that Gary Lye and his men faced after they killed people in Phulbari. 9 of the 11 cases against me have already been dismissed by the courts. We want justice in our fight against this criminal company which has destroyed so many lives already. ”
Protests are ramping up in the UK following 13 years of campaigning for GCM to be delisted from the LSE. Responding to the massacre and widespread protests, the Bangladeshi Government declined to renew the GCM subsidiary Asia Energy’s license to extract coal from Phulbari in 2010. Despite aggressive lobbying and public claims that they have government approval for coal extraction, GCM continues to have no valid contract with the Bangladesh government. However GCM recently announced a strategic partnership with two Chinese firms – China Nonferrous Metal Industry’s Foreign Engineering and Construction Company (NFC) and Power Construction Corporation of China (PowerChina) to develop the mine, which created a hike in its share price1. GCM has no other operation or assets, yet the company continues to sell shares on the LSE on the basis of the Phulbari coal project.
A letter from twelve leading campaigning organisations from the UK, Europe and USA was sent to LSE Financial Director David Warren asking that the London Stock Exchange delist GCM by Phulbari day.
The letter details the company’s fraudulent selling of shares on the UK stock exchange without any viable project or permission to mine in Phulbari, as well as harassment of activists in Bangladesh. The letter points out that GCM is one of a string of London listed mining companies linked to the murder or ‘massacre’ of protesters,
1 https://www.morningstar.co.uk/uk/news/AN_1562842435226736700/gcm-resources-signs-agreement-for-phulbari coal-project-development.aspx
including Lonmin, Glencore, Kazakhmys, ENRC, Essar, Vedanta, Anglo Gold Ashanti, African Barrick Gold and Monterrico Metals. It notes the failure of the Financial Conduct Authority or the London Stock Exchange to investigate or penalise any London listed mining company on these grounds, and notes that this is bringing the LSE into disrepute.
Rumana Hashem from Phulbari Solidarity Group in London, who was present at the 2006 demonstration, says:
“London Stock Exchange is complicit in the criminal activities of GCM by allowing them to retail shares and cheating on ordinary people for a decade.
I have witnessed Asia Energy’s violence in Bangladesh, heard the cries of the victims and seen tears of nonviolent protesters who were injured in GCM’s inflicted violence in one of Bangladesh’s most harmonious, flood protected and green place. GCM want to destroy the region and livelihood of the people in Phulbari. GCM’s CEO Gary Lye has been targeting local opponents. They must be held to account. ”
The London rally is co-hosted by a wide coalition of groups including Extinction Rebellion International Solidarity Network, Foil Vedanta, Extinction Rebellion Youth, Reclaim the Power and Christian Climate Action.
Akhter Khan from the Committee to Protect Natural Resources of Bangladesh – UK branch (4), says:
“We demand that London Stock Exchange must de-list GCM as the company do not have valid license to conduct business in Phulbari. LSE must not allow GCM’s deceitful money grabbing from the share market. ”
Kofi Mawuli Klu from Extinction Rebellion International Solidarity Network UK says:
“XRISN-UK stands with the Phulbari Solidarity Group, the National Committee and all Environmental Justice campaigners in and outside Bangladesh in solemn remembrance not only of those martyred but also of those who survived to continue fighting up till now for real Change for a better World! It is with the blood of the heroic likes of the Phulbari martyrs that our XR International Rebellion is fuelled; and this gives us the assurance that the Struggle will continue relentlessly through the turbulence of this dangerous time of Climate and Ecological Emergency; it will continue till we overcome to usher in the victories they deserve.”