By Carrie McKee (Posted: July 26, 2012)
Activist and lawyer Syeda Rizwana Hasan of the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) has been named as one of six recipients of the 2012 Ramon Magsaysay Award. The award, generally considered the Nobel Prize of Asia, is the region’s highest honor.
The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation recognizes Hasan 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.” The award is granted each year in honor of the third Philippine president Ramon Magsaysay for selfless service, integrity, and pragmatic idealism.
As chief executive of BELA, Hasan has dedicated herself to environmental justice in Bangladesh. She is best known for demanding regulations on the ship-breaking trade, a dangerous and abusive industry responsible for polluting ecosystems and endangering workers’ lives. BELA also campaigns around wetlands and traditional forest preservation, the commercial shrimp trade, and industrial pollution, as well as offering trainings for local officials, NGOs, and journalists. Hasan was previously a recipient of the Environment Award of the Ministry of Environment and Forest in 2007, the international Goldman Award in 2009, and named by TIME Magazine as an ‘Environmental Hero’.
In response to her most recent honor Hasan said: “To me, it’s not my personal achievement. It’s an achievement of all who work for the cause of environment.”