Today (Tuesday 22nd), mother-of-two Angela Ditchfield stood trial for gluing herself to the entrance doors of an international coal company AGM in London. Angela is part of the activist group Christian Climate Action and took part in the action alongside Bangladeshi protesters and transnational campaigners Phulbari Solidarity.
The action, which took place on Friday 28th December 2018, targeted company GCM Resources, which had recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Power China to develop a giant coal mine in Phulbari of Bangladesh and build a 4000 MW power plant.
Three protestors, including Ms Ditchfield, glued themselves to the entrance of the AGM’s London venue before it started in the early morning, disrupting the event for four hours. Specialist police used solvents to detach them before making arrests.
Outside the building 30 more protestors obstructed the entrance by holding banners and speaking out against the coal mine. All major shareholders and GCM’s Head of Corporate Affairs, Brian Mooney were blocked from entering the building. The attendees waited outside of the venue for several hours, before eventually leaving to go home.
Angela pleaded not guilty today with the two other Extinction Rebellion activists, Amy Pritchard and Schulamit Morris-Evans. While the charge of aggravated trespass was dropped against the trio, they were all found guilty of criminal damage and were told to pay £350 costs and given 12 months conditional discharge.
When asked why she took in the action Angela said “As a Christian, I believe Jesus calls us to come alongside people who are oppressed and in need, just like he did. I stand with the brave Bangladeshi activists who have been resisting this project for more than a decade. Successfully so far, yet the company continues to take investment from HSBC and other shareholders to try and pressure the government of Bangladesh to ignore local people and change their mind.
“Thirteen years ago GCM paid paramilitary guards to shoot at a protest in the area. Three teenagers were killed, the youngest 13 years old. 200 others were injured for peaceful protest against the theft of their homeland for foreign profit. The GCM director and representatives of the London Stock Exchange laughed when presented with this news.
“As a mother of a 12yo and a 14yo I have to stand with the families left still resisting this company which killed their children and seeks to bring so much more destruction and death through displacing communities and through climate change.
“One UK Bangladeshi activist recently asked me: “how can people do such things?” – destroying the lives of whole communities in the only flood-safe land in the region. I have no answer”
If the mine is built, it would lead to forced–displacement of up to 230, 000 people over the 36 year life cycle of the project. Rumana Hashem from Phulbari Solidarity Group, who was present at the 2006 demonstration, says “GCM is a fraudulent company. They are selling shares in London without a valid license for business in Phulbari. We have asked London Stock Exchange to consider de-listing GCM and investigate the criminal activities of the company. But London Stock Exchange failed to respond by allowing GCM to retail shares and cheating on ordinary people for a decade.
“I appreciate that climate activists who have intervened to obstruct GCM’s way of criminal activities. My heartfelt thanks to Angela, Amy and Schulamit for risking their bodies to hold GCM to account.
I have witnessed GCM’s violence in Bangladesh, heard the cries of the victims and seen tears of non-violent 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 Phulbari and livelihood of tens of thousands of people. GCM’s CEO Gary Lye has been targeting local opponents. They must be held to account.”
Baroness Natalie Bennett stands in support of protests against the company “I am proud to stand in solidarity with campaigners in Bangladesh campaigning against the Phulbari Coal project” she says, “as well as in remembrance of those massacred in 2006 while standing up for their rights. There should be no place in the London Stock Exchange for companies creating such immense harm to our environment and international community.
“We all need to take action to ensure we remain below 1.5 degrees of warming, and that includes the LSE. There is no place for open cast coal mining in the fossil fuel future this planet demands.”
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For more information contact Angela Ditchfield on 07423093332