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The chair of Friends of the Earth International, Nnimmo Bassey, will be awarded the Rafto Prize 2012 in recognition to his long-term fight for people’s rights to life, health, food and water in a world affected by climate change and mass environmental destruction.
“Through his rights based work and criticism of prevailing systems, Bassey has shown how human rights can help mitigate the effects of these changes,” says the Rafto Foundation, which announced Bassey is the recipient of the 2012 award during a press conference on September 27 at the Rafto Human Rights House in Bergen, Norway.
The Rafto Prize 2012 will be delivered in Bergen (Norway) on November 4, 2012. Since 1987 the Rafto Prize for Human Rights has been awarded to advocates of human rights and democracy.
"I am honored and humbled by this announcement. I hold the Rafto Foundation in high esteem for its commitment to human right defenders”, said Bassey in a press release issued by Friends of the Earth International, a federation of environmental organizations with groups in almost 80 countries. “I have campaigned on oil pollution and human rights in Nigeria for decades. Standing with impacted communities we continually demand justice. We press on, convinced that truth will prevail”, he added.
The environmental activist is also the Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action – Friends of the Earth Nigeria, an organization that has exposed human rights abuses by British-Dutch oil corporation Shell in the Niger Delta, including gas flaring, which are some of the major causes of environmental destruction worldwide.
He added: “We expect justice to be done very soon, after a major court case hearing against Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell in The Netherlands. Shell’s incredible contamination in Nigeria will be under scrutiny at a court hearing in The Hague on
October 11 and the verdict is expected in early 2013,” he added.
Friends of the Earth Nigeria and Friends of the Earth Netherlands filed lawsuits against Shell, together with affected communities of the Niger Delta. The Dutch Parliament has especially assessed Shell’s behavior in Nigeria.
In 2009 Shell agreed to pay a 15.5 million USD compensation to the families of several victims of murder by the Nigerian dictatorship in 1995.
The plaintiffs had accused Shell of complicity with the Nigerian government in the crimes before a New York Federal District Court in the US.
One of the activists killed by the Nigerian dictatorial regime in 1995 was renowned poet Ken Saro-Wiwa, founder of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, founded in 1990 to protest against the pollution caused by oil corporations in the Ogoni region.
On September of 2010, Bassey was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize.
The jury awarded Bassey for exposing the environmental and human rights crimes caused by oil extraction and for his work to strengthen the ecologist movement in Nigeria and the world.
Back then Bassey told Real World Radio that the award was a recognition of the environmental and human rights struggle with local communities in Nigeria and other countries. He also said that transnational corporations and other destructive agencies will not continue operating without being held accountable.
“No queremos ser mártires, no queremos que hayan más mártires en este país, pero también hay una responsabilidad histórica de hacer valer la palabra y demostrar que tenemos derecho a la construcción de un mundo mejor. Y no podemos huir a esa responsabilidad”, dijo a Radio Mundo Real la dirigente garífuna Miriam Miranda, coordinadora de la Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña (OFRANEH).
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