Nigeria: ERA Chief Receives Award

Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Nnimmo Bassey, and three others were on Monday formally honoured with 2010 Right Livelihood awards.

The ceremony, which held at the Swedish Parliament and presided over by Jakob von Uexkull, Founder and Co-Chair of the Award, was the climax of the announcement of the conferment of the awards to the four laureates whose activities cover human rights in the Middle East, environmental destruction through oil production, the survival of the Amazon and its people, and an inspiring example for how to overcome poverty.

Bassey was honoured "for revealing the full ecological and human horrors of oil production and for his inspired work to strengthen the environmental movement in Nigeria and globally".

Other recipients are Bishop Erwin Krautler from Brazil who was honoured "for a lifetime of work for the human and environmental rights of indigenous peoples and for his tireless efforts to save the Amazon forest from destruction" and Shrikrishna Upadhyay and the organisation SAPPROS in Nepal, recognised "for demonstrating over many years the power of community mobilisation to address the multiple causes of poverty even when threatened by political violence and instability".

Due to a loss of a family member, Shrikrishna Upadhyay was represented by Dr. Jyoti Bhattarai, his daughter, and Mr. Narendra Bahadur, executive director of SAPPROS.

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel was awarded "for their indomitable spirit in working for the right to health for all people in Israel and Palestine" and represented in Stockholm by its president and founder Dr. Ruchama Marton.

Bassey's award has also drawn congratulatory messages from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as well as Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2004, Professor Wangari Maathai, who in a letter dated November 22, 2010 praised Bassey for "hard work and activism to tackle environmental injustice for many long years as an activist in the Niger Delta and eloquent writing which has helped to bring the tragedy of what is occurring in the Delta to the world's attention."

In the congratulatory letter from UNEP, signed by its Executive Director, Achim Steiner, the UN agency said Bassey's "work in bringing serious environmental and human rights issues to the forefront, in particular campaign on the impacts of the oil industry in Nigeria is admirable," adding, that, the UN agency would welcome advice from ERA on its work in Ogoniland and recommended a meeting with the Chief of UNEP's Post-Conflict and Disaster Management Branch.

The Right Livelihood Awards was founded in 1980 and presented annually in the Swedish Parliament to honour and support those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing the world. They are often referred to as 'Alternative Nobel Prizes'.

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