Badrul Alam, our comrade who is President of the Bangladesh Krishok Federation, visited Manchester and spoke at a public meeting in March 2014. When Badrul was in the UK for the Bangladesh tour, an activist and film-maker from Virtual Migrants in Manchester recorded a video interview with him. This article is to give an update about his organisation and what it has been doing for ecosocialism, which is a crucial part of our politics here now. BKF is the largest peasant federation in Bangladesh. Badrul is also a leader of Via Campesina, which is a network of peasant organisations from around the world. The BKF are also involved in activity around the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013 when an eight-story commercial building collapsed in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, leaving 1,129 dead. This was one of many events drawing attention to the appalling labour conditions which enable Western clothing companies to make large profits. The Bangladesh Kishani Sabha, which is the women’s organisation linked to the BKF, has been active in supporting the Rana Plaza workers and those in other clothing factories in Dhaka. BKF has been involved in land occupations.
In November Badrul and BKF and other activists embarked on the Bangladesh-India-Nepal Climate Caravan. There was participation by Bangladesh Kishani Sabha Organizing Secretary Asma Begum, Bangladesh Adivasi Samity President Sree Biswnath Singh, Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labour Federation General Secretary Abdul Majid and Friends of Bangladesh (Australia) member Emma. Ekattra-An Urban Youth Organization President Meghna Alam spoke in the meeting. Details of the first stages of this Climate Caravan tour are at the Via Campesina Site.
Seminars have been held at many places, for example in Sadhuhati, Jhenaidah with the participation of local communities on climate change and climate migrants. Meetings have focussed on the rights of climate migrants, and argued that these should be protected by the UN convention. Adaptation and support meetings are taking place at different levels in the affected countries but making the argument that the responsible countries should make deep and drastic cuts in their emission levels immediately. The Caravan argues that the rich industrialised countries must pay reparations to the people of the affected country as their historic and ecological dues. The participants asked all South Asian governments to be active in order to realize the reparation for the people affected by climate change. Participants visited the pesticide and chemical free organic vegetable cultivation and harvested eggplant, cauliflower, beans, and other vegetables.
In mid-November the caravan crossed the Indian border to Kolkata, West Bengal. In a week the caravan travelled around 850 kilometres within Bangladesh, crossed ten districts, stayed in six destinations, and visited a station meeting different community people on the way. Throughout the caravan leaflets and booklets were distributed among the local people to make them aware of the objectives of the caravan and the issue of climate change. The whole week was educational, interactive and experience-sharing for the participants. They have told us that the productivity in terms of lesson-learnt was enormous. The impact of the caravan on the locality will be long lasting. People’s feelings of sustainability in agriculture will bring fruits. It will contribute to the dream of a peasant-based agro-ecology and help the dreams to come true. This activity in the Climate Caravan is part of the intensive work of the BKF.
This is ecosocialism in action, ecosocialism that the Fourth International in Manchester and Socialist Resistance as the Fourth International in Britain has been arguing for. We look forward to seeing him and other comrades from the BKF in Manchester again, and in the meantime we hope that you will visit the Climate Caravan page of the Krishok website and donate funds to support the 2014 caravan and those planned for future years.