It has been a month since police opened fire on a workers peaceful demonstration at the under-construction Banshkhali Coal Power plant in Bangladesh. They were defending their worker’s rights and payment of their overdue salary. Real World Radio recently spoke with Bareesh Hasan Chowdhury, research lawyer for Friends of the Earth Bangladesh/Bangladesh Lawyers Environmental Association (BELA) about the incident. Listen to the full interview here. 

“They were protesting because of their underwages, disgusting working conditions and also because they want to reduce a few working hours during Ramadan month”, summarized Bareesh Hasan Chowdhury, BELA’s research lawyer.

As result of that police shooting on April 17, seven workers were killed, 21 people were injured and 3,562 were sued by the Sub-inspector of Banshkhali Police Station Rashed and Chief Coordinator of the plant Faruk Ahmed.

The Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA/Friends of the Earth Bangladesh) with other five human rights NGO’s(*) filed two public interest litigations before the High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, against S. Alam group. Right now there is a politician investigation going on, but on the litigation petition NGO’S asked the Court for:

  1. The formation of a committee to impartially investigate the shooting;
  2. Time limit for the submission of reports by the investigation committees formed by district administration and the police administration after the shooting;
  3. A report of the Ministry of Labor and Employment on labor safety;
  4. Protection, medical treatment and the payment of adequate compensation to the injured workers and families of the deceased workers.

“Until now, injured didn’t receive the cares they needed -also because of COVID and lockdown situation”, Bareesh Hasan Chowdhury told RWR.

This was not the first attack against workers with firearms: four villagers were killed on April 4, 2016 and one villager on February 1, 2017 in the firing of the armed forces of the owners and police with the local people over the land acquisition of this power project. People were mobilized fearing negative impact of these projects on their lives.

In 2017, BELA denounced the plan of the government of Bangladesh to go for 28 more coal based power plants in a world heritage site, Sundarbans.

“As an environmental organization, we hope that this project will get canceled. We should be funding renewable energies projects”, BELA’s lawyer stated.

 

Listen to the full interview here.

 

Cover photo: thedailystar.net