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Five dead in protest at Chinese-financed plant in Bangladesh Open in fullscreen

The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Five dead in protest at Chinese-financed plant in Bangladesh

Thousands of workers at a coal plant construction site were protesting over unpaid wages [LightRocket]

Date of publication: 17 April, 2021

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Bangladeshi police opened fire on workers at the construction site of a coal power plant who were protesting over unpaid wages, working hours and alleged discrimination.

At least five people were shot dead and dozens injured when Bangladesh police opened fire Saturday on demonstrating workers at the construction site of a Chinese-financed power plant, officials said.

Police started shooting after workers became violent, said Saiduzzman Chowdhury, government administrator in the southern coastal town of Banshkhali.

They were protesting over unpaid wages, working hours and alleged discrimination.

Azizul Islam, Banshkhali police chief, said about 2,000 protesters threw rocks and bricks at police, who responded with gunfire.

The 2.5 billion-dollar, 1,200-megawatt coal power plant, 30 percent owned by Chinese engineering giant SEPCOIII, has been at the centre of other deadly protests in recent years.

Police opened fire on a protest by villagers in 2016, when four people were killed.

One man was killed in 2017 when police fired shots at a rally.

Four bodies with bullet wounds were taken from the latest protests to Banshkhali's main hospital, a doctor there said, adding that 12 others were being treated for wounds.

Police confirmed a fifth victim and 19 injured, including three police, were taken to a hospital in Chittagong.

Rights activists say the SS Power One plant, 70 percent owned by the S. Alam Group, does not meet environmental impact standards and was built without public consultation.

It is one of the biggest investments made by Chinese companies in Bangladesh. The deal was one of many announced when President Xi Jinping visited in 2016.

S. Alam executive director Subrata Kumar Bhowmick said the plant was 40 percent finished and about 3,000 construction workers were employed there.

Two company officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a Chinese contractor employed the workers.

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