[BEN-NY-NJ-CT] English version of press release on May 25 rally against IRLP
Please find below the English version of the report on the rally held on May 25 in New York at the United Nations headquarters, against Indian River Linking Project. (The Bangla version of the reported was presented earlier.) Attached are also two pictures of the rally. You are welcome to share it with other networks and media outlets.
We thank all who attended and helped to make the rally a success and hope that more will join future programs against IRLP.
Bangladeshis rally at United Nations headquarters in New York demand cancellation of Indian River Linking Project
Bangladeshis demanded cancellation of the Indian River Linking Project (IRLP) aimed at diverting water of the Brahmaputra and the Ganges rivers away from Bangladesh and toward western and southern India. The demand was made at a rally held in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York on May 25. Organized by Bangladesh Environment Network (BEN), the global network of non-resident Bangladeshis and their international friends, the rally noted that IRLP would harm Indo-Bangladesh friendship that was forged during Bangladesh’s Liberation War in 1971.
Drawing attention of the international community, the rally noted that IRLP contravenes the 1997 UN Convention on Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses. It even violates the 1996 Indo-Bangladesh Ganges Water Sharing Treaty.
The rally observed that IRLP is a throw back into the past and does not reflect the new, twenty-first century attitude to rivers and nature and does not accord with the spirit of the “Rio plus 20” conference to be held this summer to celebrate Earth Summit of 1992. The new attitude enjoins all to abandon the Commercial Approach and to adopt the Ecological Approach to rivers. While the Commercial Approach converts rivers into sources of contention among co-riparian countries, the Ecological Approach can convert rivers into bonds of friendship.
The rally urged the Indian government to remove all water diversionary structures that it has built on rivers flowing from India into Bangladesh so that Indo-Bangladesh cooperation can flourish in different spheres. The rally noted that IRLP was not a good use of investible resources even for India, because international experience shows that diversion of rivers ultimately proves harmful for both the origin and the destination areas. It noted that conscious sections of the Indian population are also opposing IRLP.
The speakers at the rally expressed both surprise and dismay at the Indian Supreme Court’s recent (February 27, 2012) directive issued to the Indian government to start implementing IRLP in 30 days and complete this mammoth (with estimated budget of about $200 billion) by 2016. The rally regretted that the directive shows no awareness of the fact that the project concerns international rivers which are shared by Bangladesh and will do significant harm to Bangladesh’s ecology and economy.
The rally urged the Bangladesh government to oppose IRLP more vigorously, and if necessary to raise the issue in appropriate international forums. It also urged the Bangladesh government to sign the 1997 UN Convention on Non-navigations Uses of International Watercourses and to persuade India and other countries of the subcontinent to sign it too.
The participants of the rally carried many posters, maps, graphs, and pictures explaining the likely devastating effect of IRLP on Bangladesh based on the deleterious effects that India’s previous diversionary structures, such as Farakka Barrage (on the Ganges River) and Gajoldoba barrage (on the Teesta River), already had on Bangladesh. The rally expressed resolve to continue the movement against IRLP and, if necessary, to hold an even bigger rally at United Nations headquarters in September during the annual General Assembly session, when the leaders of the world’s nations will gather in New York.
Members and leaders of many non-resident Bangladeshi community and professional organizations joined this rally and expressed their support to its demands. There was representation from Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) too.
Conducted by Sayed Fazlur Rahman, Coordinator of BEN chapter for New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut states of the USA, the rally was addressed by, among others, Dr. Ziauddin Ahmed, professor of Drexel University Medical School (Philadelphia); Nurul Kabir, leader of South Asia Alliance for Democracy (based in Boston); Mohidul Hoque Khan, former General Secretary of BAPA; Belal Beg, eminent columnist and media personality; Nini Wahed, BEN Coordinating Committee member; Rana Ferdous Chowdhury, former General Secretary of Bangladesh Society, New York; Abul Kashem, former Secretary of Bangladesh Government; Fahim Rezanur, leader of Ghatak-Dalal Nirmul Committee in the USA; Khourshedul Islam, President of Progressive Forum in New York; Subrata Biswas, leader of Udichi in New York; Ahsanul Haque, President of South Asian Civil Service Association in New York; A.K.M. Nurul Haque, President of New York chapter of Aggression Protection International
Committee; Tanvir Rahman, General Secretary of Narayanganj Assciation; Mizanur Rahman Chowdhury, leader of Habiganj Zilla Welfare Association; Lutfar Rahman, President of Barisal Division Association; Javed Ahmed, President Sylhet Sadar Association; Sabbir Kazi, leader of youth and student wing of Habiganj Association; Minhaz Ahmed, leader of The Optimist; Fahim Rashid, investment consultant; Shamsad Hussam, journalist and Convener of New York chapter of Voice for Justice; Ranu Ferdous, leader of various cultural and women’s organizations in New York; Rezaul Karim, community leader from Boston.
An important feature of the rally was significant participation of the second generation of non-resident Bangladeshis in the USA, many of whom also spoke at the rally. Among them were Faiza Fatema, student of New York University; Ezazul Haque, student of Columbia University; Tania Moyen, researcher at New York University; Rahul Islam, student of Hunter College; Mahbubur Rahman and Sayeda Zisha, students from New Jersey; and Golam Rabbani Bhuiyan, information technology specialist.
Shafi Chowdhury and Shamima Hossain rendered patriotic songs and Quamruzzaman recited river loving poems.
The rally adopted a Memorandum that compiled the arguments against IRLP and the demands of the rally. Semonti Wahed, a leader of the young generation of non-resident Bangladeshis and a prominent cultural activist, read out the Memorandum, which was adopted unanimously. It was sent to the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon; Indian Ambassador to the USA, Nirupama Rao; Indian Consul General in New York, Pravu Dayal; and Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, Puri Singh.
At the start of the rally homage was paid to the memory of Prof. Muzaffer Ahmad, the two-time President of BAPA, and a leading intellectual and social activist of Bangladesh, who recently passed away. Dr. Nazrul Islam, Global Coordinator of BEN, spoke on Prof. Muzaffer’s contribution to Bangladesh’s environment movement and to other spheres of the nation’s life in recent years. He urged members of the younger generation to find inspiration from Prof. Muzaffer’s example and engage with public causes. The rally observed one-minute silence in memory of Prof. Muzaffer
The New York rally at UN headquarters was part of the BEN-BAPA Global Action Day against IRLP. BEN chapters in Australia, Japan, Germany and other countries of the world organized similar programs and handed over the Memorandum to the local representative of the United Nations and the Indian government. In Bangladesh, BAPA organized rallies in Dhaka and other districts of the country.
BEN hopes that the Indian government will pay due attention to the Memorandum and decide not to proceed with IRLP, so far as it concerns the international rivers and thus affects Bangladesh.
BEN congratulates all who have made the New York rally and programs elsewhere successful, and hopes that draw more people will join the struggle against IRLP.