Months of anti-coal protest end with deadly violence
Climate activists working to limit heat-trapping pollution from fossil fuels have faced serious crackdowns around the world in recent months, but this week, the showdown over climate change turned deadly in Bangladesh.
The Climate Action Network, a global community of over 950 NGOs in more than 110 countries, says that police forces opened fire on unarmed protesters in Gandamara who had gathered to oppose two new Chinese-funded coal projects. According to officials, at least four people were killed by police bullets.
The protesters defied a local police ban to try and block the projects as bulldozers rolled to clear the way for the construction. According to CAN, authorities in Bangladesh have long used intimidation tactics to throttle protests. A CAN activist filed this report from Gandamara.
“More than six thousand farmers are dependent on this fertile land for agriculture and salt production, these farmers travelled to Gandamara to save their livelihoods and some paid for it with their lives,” said Sanjay Vashist, Director of Climate Action Network South Asia. “Experts have also pointed out that the operation of coal plants would cause major damage to the delicate ecosystem of the area, due to air and water pollution and increase in boat traffic to deliver coal to the plant.” he added.
“It is time for government to stop the death and destruction caused by coal projects in Bangladesh and show real leadership through redirecting investments away from coal to renewables like wind and solar,” said Dr. Mohd. Abdul Matin, Convenor of the Coal Affairs Program Committee and General Secretary of BAPA.
Wael Hmaidan, Director of Climate Action Network International said, “people have a right to peacefully stand up against reckless coal expansion that threatens to destroy their homes and ruin their livelihoods. This community is trying to defend itself from an increasingly desperate industry and has suffered a direct attack from the authorities who should be preserving their rights, not trampling on them.”
Climate Action Network supports the demand from local groups for an immediate, full and independent inquiry into yesterday’s events, to hold those responsible to account for the unnecessary murder of at least four people. It is simply unacceptable for police to open fire on protesters and shoot to kill.