TIME Magazine has honored ELAW partner and Goldman Prize Winner Rizwana Hasan of Bangladesh with a 2009 Hero of the Environment award! Rizwana was honored for her fight to protect workers in the shipbreaking industry and for helping to ensure that Bangladesh doesn’t continue to be a dumping ground for the world’s polluted ships.
Krista Mahr wrote:
“Every morning on the beaches of Chittagong, some 15,000 men go to work knowing that they could die that day. For 16-hour shifts, workers in Bangladesh’s largest shipbreaking zone are sent with little protection or guidance into other nations’ aging vessels to pull their hulls apart by hand. Inside the ships they face a haze of thick, black smoke from the torches used to cut the metal, unstable gases, asbestos, lead and mercury. By some estimates, one shipbreaker is killed every day by the explosions, fires, or falling metal of South Asia’s shipyards. Those who survive face a high risk of cancer and other illnesses. Most shipbreakers work five or six years before they return to their villages, young old men, too worn out or sick to make a living.
Syeda Rizwana Hasan, 41, is one of the few advocates for these men — and the beaches where the contaminated ships end up. As chief executive of the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) for the past six years, Hasan has struggled to bring better environmental and labor regulation to Bangladesh’s 36 shipbreaking yards, where, she says, “nobody is present” to ensure labor laws are followed or international guidelines against toxic waste-dumping are met.” To read the full article, click here.
Congratulations to Rizwana!