Platform News – Rizwana Hasan receives the Magsaysay Award for her fight for environmental justice

Brussels, 4 September 2012 -
Rizwana Hasan, Chief Executive of the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), a member organisation of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, received the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award on 31 August, during a ceremony in Manila, Philippines. Rizwana Hasan was amongst a group of six outstanding individuals who “are collectively advancing causes to improve lives and transform societies across Asia”, according to the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation. Rizwana Hasan was especially recognized for “her uncompromising courage and impassioned leadership in a campaign of judicial activism in Bangladesh that affirms the people’s right to a good environment as nothing less than their right to dignity and life.”

In 2009, Rizwana Hasan succeeded in petitioning the High Court of Bangladesh to ban end-of-life ships from entering Bangladeshi waters, thus effectively closing the shipbreaking yards, and asked for legal guarantees so that the ships would be broken in a safe and environmentally-sound way. Since then, her continuous dedication to environmental justice has regularly brought to light the disastrous conditions in which end-of-life ships are broken on the beaches of Bangladesh.

“We, at BELA, are proud to be associated with a cause [environmental justice] that deeply affects the life of every Bangladeshi and indeed every human being around the globe,” Rizwana Hasan said upon receiving the award.

Rizwana Hasan joined BELA in 1993 and was inspired “to work for the cause of environment and explore innovative ways of using law to defend rights and denounce injustices.”

“19 years down the road, we may not claim to have righted all the wrongs, we are unable to paint a rosy picture, but we can boldly and strongly assert that hardly any environmental wrong or any attempt to interfere with people’s environmental rights in my motherland goes unattended or unchallenged.”