Originally published on Climate Action Network International
5th April, Bangladesh – Climate Action Network, a global community of over 950 NGOs in more than 110 countries fighting for action to tackle climate change, condemns yesterday’s deadly police crackdown on villagers protesting coal plant construction. Officials say that at least four people died when police opened fire on an unarmed crowd in Gandamara, a small coastal town in Bangladesh, where 500 villagers had gathered to oppose two new Chinese-funded coal projects.
The villagers had been protesting peacefully for days, despite a police ban, after the local conglomerate behind the planned coal expansion started bulldozing land to pave the way for the unpopular plants. Authorities in Bangladesh have long used intimidation tactics to prevent locals voicing their concerns – this new and deadly means of silencing opposition to dirty coal power is an extremely worrying escalation.
“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.
Editors note: A report from one of our members based in Bangladesh is here  Photographs of the violent crackdown were posted on facebook by protesters here  According to local reports Chittagong-based S. Alam Group plans to build two coal-fired power plants at the area. Two Chinese firms — SEPCOIII Electric Power and HTG — are financing $1.75 billion of the the plants’ estimated $2.4 billion cost.  About CAN:
The Climate Action Network (CAN) is a worldwide network of over 950 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) from over 110 countries working to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels. www.climatenetwork.org
CAN contact: Mark Raven, CAN International, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: +44 7841474125
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