Rizwana is the chief executive of the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA). Iqbal is her staff attorney. The defamation case was filed in 2010 by Abdur Rouf Chowdhury, manager of the ship breaking company Mak Group. Chowdhury’s company had been fingered in a petition BELA filed, challenging the export of a toxic ship.
Rizwana spoke about the plight of Bangladesh’s impoverished ship breakers at the 2003 ELAW Annual Meeting. Decommissioned ships are towed then dumped on the coast of Bangladesh where poorly equipped laborers are paid little more than $1 a day to tear them apart. The ships are loaded with extremely toxic materials that endanger the health of laborers and contaminate the environment. Rizwana won a 2009 Goldman Environmental Prize for her outstanding work defending the laborers and protecting the coast from these toxic operations.
Today’s Daily Star reports:
“The Mak Group manager in the case brought charges against the accused of damaging his company’s image and dignity. After getting bail from the High Court, Rizwana and Lytton [Iqbal] filed a petition [sic] the court on January 24, 2011 for quashing the case filed against them. The HC on that day issued a rule upon the government and the plaintiff of the case to explain why the case should not be quashed…. After holding hearing on the rule, the HC bench of Justice AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik and Justice Farid Ahmed scrap the case today.”
Congratulations Rizwana and Iqbal!