In a statement on 15 September 2022, at the end of a 10-day visit to Bangladesh, Mr. Ian Fry, UN Special Repporteur on the protection and promotion of human rights in the context of human rights said, “I visited some of the most adversely affected regions of Bangladesh and it is clear to me that the burden of climate change should not be carried by Bangladesh alone. For too long, major emitting countries have denied their responsibility for the suffering they are causing. This must end. The major greenhouse emitting countries have a clear obligation under the international law to provide funding to help highly vulnerable countries like Bangladesh to recover from the impact of climate change.”
In the same statement he said, “I received a statement of claims from the environment and climate change human rights defenders that they have been subject to harassment and imprisonment due to speaking out against climate change issues. It was claimed that there was `shrinking local space’ for public comment. A number of incidents were reported to me where environmental and climate change human rights defenders have been arrested or harassed by authorities for protesting against the development of new coal-fired power stations and other climate-change unfriendly developments. I have also heard of incidents of death threats made against environmental human rights defenders by ‘unknown’ people. This intimidation by persons possibly linked to the Government does not auger well for a nation striving to position itself positively in the international arena on climate change.”
This part of the statement is `Mal-information’. Bangladesh is planning to shift from coal, but it’s getting time. During the shifting of coal to clean, some coal fired power stations are being implemented by the government, particularly Rampal Coal Fired Power Station, supported by India, to mitigate the power supply crisis within the country. But a segment of people influenced by geopolitical public diplomacy against India-Bangladesh relations, are raising the coal and Sundarban issue and advocating the coal free energy transition. In the context of the global campaign for coal-free energy transition, I also support this movement. Every day I follow the newspaper and collect the news from different sources. There are some harassment cases against mass gatherings in the Rampal areas but I have not heard anything about the `death threat’ to the environmentalists and climate activists yet. Maybe these people have presented these incidents negatively to the UN envoy.
A serious claim has been included in the statement of the UN envoy. The statement said, “Public protest against developments such as coal-fired power plants should never come within the definition of terrorism.” This is totally false information as well as disinformation. There are no incidents where the government treats environmentalists and climate change activists as terrorists. Presenting such kinds of disinformation, the bias towards some evil forces is being shown. We should advocate against coal, but should not present false information that would harm the nation.
The UN envoy has correctly presented the climate change issues in his statement, but the statement on `death threat’ and `terrorism’ related to the environmentalist and climate activists should be reviewed and revisited again before presenting it at the UN Human Rights Council in 2023.