A GROUP of eminent citizens has held a brief for the responsibility of the Chinese government for the attacks on workers at the premises of SS Power 1 Ltd — a joint venture of the S Alam Group of Bangladesh and SEPCOIII Electric Power Construction Corporation and HTG Development Group Co Ltd of China — at Banskhali in Chattogram where seven workers died in police firing on April 17. SS Power 1 Ltd and SS Power 2 Ltd, a similar joint venture, aims to build two 660MW plants to be run with imported coal. The group in a letter to China’s ambassador to Bangladesh has also reminded the Chinese government that the violence was not the first of its kind at the place as similar incidents at the premises of the under-construction plant have so far left 12 people dead since 2016. The group, referring to the project profile, has said that the Chinese government cannot avoid its responsibility for the killing and the violent incidents that have taken place since the project began in 2016. The citizens in the letter also questioned how China, which has decided to abandon such coal-fired power projects in China, has supported a project that plans to build plants in the coastal area of Bangladesh.
The group of citizens has, therefore, protested against and condemned the killing of workers and the silence that China’s embassy in Bangladesh has so far showed about the incident. The workers’ demands for an early payment of dues and reduced working hours in Ramadan were all justified and the group has, therefore, requested the Chinese government to make fair investments and uphold labour rights. The group of citizens has, in such a situation, put forth four demands — ensuring justice for the workers murdered and the workers wounded in the violent attacks, taking an early action against the people of the Chinese companies concerned responsible for the murder and injury of the workers keeping to the laws of China, compensating families of the victims keeping to international legal standards, publishing the joint venture agreement to hold the companies involved in the project accountable. The group says that China’s meeting the four demands that the group has put forth could be ‘a genuine gesture’ to upholding the commitment and the honour of the Communist Party of China on its 100th anniversary.
It will, therefore, be pertinent that the government of China, which has its stake by way of Chinese investments in the joint venture of the S Alam Group and two Chinese power plant companies at Banskhali in Chattogram, should ensure justice for the workers who died and became wounded in the violence, take an immediate action against the people of the Chinese companies involved for the violence keeping to the laws of China, compensate the families of the victims, all who died and became injured in similar incidents at the plant and publish the joint venture agreement.
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