To mark the 15th Phulbari Day in 2021, London Mining Network collaborated with Phulbari Solidarity Group on two commemorative events. On the morning of 26 August, we held a rally outside the Bangladesh High Commission in London with XR Youth Solidarity, Fossil Free London, and other supporters.
Rally at the Bangladesh High Commission
The gathered activists laid sunflowers and held banners outside the High Commission, accompanied by mournful cello music. Short speeches were given by Rumana Hashem, coordinator of the Phulbari Solidarity Group and eyewitness to the 2006 massacre, Richard Solly, network coordinator of London Mining Network, and Sara Cordovez of Extinction Rebellion Youth Solidarity. A three-minute silence was held in memory of Al Amin, Mohammad Saleqin and Tarikul Islam. These three, aged 11,13 and 18 respectively, were killed on 26 August 2006 when a paramilitary force opened fire during a nonviolent demonstration of an estimated 80,000 people against the eviction of 130,000 people in Phulbari to make way for a 572-million ton open cast coal mine. More than 200 other demonstrators were injured.
Activists from Extinction Rebellion Youth Solidarity held a placard making session outside the High Commission building, stressing the link between young activists and climate justice struggles. A small delegation of activists requested to meet with Saida Muna Tasneem, the High Commissioner for Bangladesh, in order to deliver a memorandum supported by 41 climate justice organizations. This memorandum requests the High Commissioner put pressure on the London Stock Exchange to de-list GCM Resources and stress the importance of implementing the Phulbari Verdict, which would ban new coal projects in Bangladesh, to the Bangladeshi Prime Minister.
While activists were disappointed that the High Commissioner did not have time to meet with them, a deputy did come to the steps of the office to accept the letter on her behalf. Representatives of the organizing groups arranged to plan a meeting with the High Commissioner at a later date.
The Phulbari Solidarity Group and London Mining Network collaborated with the Bibartan Art and Cultural Group to host a billingual memorial event, The Verdict. We presented testimony from eye-witnesses and from international anti-mining and climate justice campaigners. Bibortan Art and Cultural Group presented stories from Phulbari and Bangladesh through Bengali folklore music. The event closed with a reading of the Phulbari Verdict. The full text of this is available below.