Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Bangladesh - The government has given in and promised to abide by the six major demands of environmental protesters, following the first day of a nation-wide general strike. The strike was planned in response to last weeks brutal repression of anti-mine protests in which six demonstrators were killed and hundreds more were injured.

Paramilitary forces fired into a crowd of 30,000 people who tried to storm the local offices of Asia Energy, a London-based mining company that claims ownership to 570m tonnes of coal in Bangladesh's Phulbari district. Some of that coal happens to lie inconveniently underneath the homes and communities of 40,000 to 100,000 people.

The shootings incited days of rioting in which barricades stalled rail and vehicular traffic throughout the district and the homes of Asia Energy's officials were ransacked and torched. At least on police officer was killed during the violence.

As part of the agreement the government has promised enact a moratorium on open pit mining, build a monument at Phulbari in memory of the deceased and grant amnesty to all the demonstrators who broke the law during the protests.