Ten protesters are dead, more than 100 were injured, and 87 were reported missing in Kidapawan City, Philippines after police and armed forces opened fire on a group of 6,000 farmers and Indigenous people demonstrating for drought relief.
In Bangladesh, meanwhile, four villagers are dead and at least 20 were injured after more than 3,000 gathered near Chittagong to protest a 1.2-gigawatt coal station funded by investors from China.
In the Philippines, “the farmers and Indigenous people had been blockading a highway in the Cotabato province for four days in a desperate plea for government aid, after this winter’s record-breaking temperatures produced a three-month-long drought that has destroyed their crops and now threatens their lives,” Common Dreams reports. “The demonstrators were asking the government to provide 15,000 sacks of rice to ease the hunger crisis. Provincial governor Emmylou Mendoza has refused to engage the protesters.”
“Why we came down here is not to make trouble,” local farmer Noralyn Laus told Democracy Now!. “We just want to demand for rice, because the situation of El Niño is leaving our tribes hungry. What happened yesterday, we didn’t start it. They started it by beating us. We wouldn’t be angry if we weren’t beaten up or attacked. We’re having a crisis. We don’t have anything to eat or harvest. Our plants wilted. Even our water has dried up.”
In Bangladesh, “protesters fear they will lose their land when the coal-fired plant, funded by a Chinese firm, is built, and say it will pollute the local environment,” BBC reports. “Bangladesh faces an electricity shortage, but some plans to build new power stations have faced strong opposition from environmentalists.”
The coal plant is to be built by Chittagong-based S. Alam Group, with about three-quarters of the financing from two Chinese firms, SEPCOIII Electric Power and HTG.
While Bangladeshi police accused the protesters of vandalism and violence, the villagers said they had been engaged in peaceful protests for days. “Local authorities had banned the demonstration from taking place and the police said they opened fire on the crowd when the protesters attacked them,” Agence France Presse reports. District police chief Hafiz Akter told AFP the dozens injured included 11 police officers, and one officer was shot in the head.