Phulbari is one of the most fertile regions in north-west part of Bangladesh. In 2006, GCM wanted to start an open cast coal mining there. The proposed eight million ton mine would have forcibly displaced 130,000 people whose livelihood depends on the land and agriculture. On 26th August, 2019, thousands of people gathered in a rally to protest this mine. At the end of the rally, when everyone was returning home—without any agitation or warning GCM backed militia opened fire on the people leaving more than 200 people injured and three dead.
As a result of this incident, country wide protest took place and stopped the operation of Phulbari coal mine. Although there is no valid contract or license to operate on the Phulbari Coal mine anymore, GCM is still selling its share in the LSE. This year 12 organization including Phulbari Solidarity Group, Extinction Rebellion, Bank Track, Urgewald e.V and 350.org signed a joint letter to the CFO of LSE demanding that GCM be de-listed on the grounds that they don’t have a valid mining contract and operation in Bangladesh. The matter was already brought into attention in 2016 of the authority but there hasn’t been any action based on it.
To bring justice to the affected people and hold GCM accountable for its actions this year protestors are gathering in a black vigil both inside and outside of Bangladesh. Carols of the movement will be sung and creative action is planned to be organized. GCM is one of many LSE listed companies which are linked to the murder of protesters in the operating countries. Delisting it from the LSE is only a small part of holding it accountable. According to one of the Phulbari shooting survivors Nuruzzaman:
“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. We halted the mine 13 years ago. They do not have a license, there is no project in Phulbari. 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 1 billion taka (BDT 100 crore) for so called harassment that Gary Lye and his men faced after they killed people in Phulbari. We want justice in our fight against this criminal company which has destroyed so many lives already.