Amid ‘Alarming Setbacks,’ Right Livelihood Winners Embody Vision Of Better World


Published:

The 2016 recipients of the Right Livelihood Award (clockwise from top left): Khadija Ismayilova (Azerbaijan); Colin Gonsalves (India); Yetnebersh Nigussie (Ethiopia); and Colin Gonsalves (USA).

Photos: RightLivelihood.org

The winners of the 2017 Right Livelihood Awards—often referred to as the Alternative Nobel Prize—were announced in Stockholm, Sweden on Tuesday in order to honor and reward the dedication and positive impact from this year’s four recipients: Khadija Ismayilova  from Azerbaijan, Robert Billot from the United States, Yetnebersh Nigussie  from Ethiopia, and India’s Colin Gonsalves.

The four winners this year join 170 previous laureates from 69 different who have received the award since it was established in 1980. According to the Right Livelihood Award Foundation, which administers the prizes, recipients are recognized for offering “visionary and exemplary solutions to the root causes” of serious problems facing their communities and the world.

“This year’s Laureates protect the rights and lives of citizens across three continents,” said Ole von Uexkull, executive director of the foundation, in a statement. “With their courageous work for human rights, public health and good governance, they tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges at their very core. At a time of alarming setbacks for democracy, their successes show us the way forward towards a just, peaceful and sustainable world for all.”

The 2017 recipients:

Khadija Ismayilova (Azerbaijan)

Khadija Ismayilova is Azerbaijan’s most outstanding contemporary investigative journalist. In the past decade, her investigative reporting has revealed a wide range of corrupt and lucrative business deals involving President Aliyev’s family members. She has provided irrefutable evidence of corruption at the highest levels of Azerbaijan’s government, which also involved multinational companies like TeliaSonera. Significantly, her articles have uncovered how the wealth of the nation has been plundered, routed abroad and used to influence European politicians.

For publishing articles on government corruption, Ismayilova has been subjected to smear campaigns, harassment and fabricated criminal charges. Despite serving one and a half years in prison, Ismayilova has refused to be silenced, and continues to write. Ismayilova also addresses Azerbaijan’s poor human rights record, consistently raising the issue of political prisoners in the country and provided their families with moral and material support.

As the government continues to intimidate and jail journalists with an alarming frequency, Ismayilova remains resolute in courageously writing and speaking out for greater government accountability and good governance in Azerbaijan.

Ole von Uexkull commented:

“Khadija Ismayilova is one of the most courageous and skilled investigative journalists of her generation. Despite imprisonment, threats and smear campaigns, she has not given up investigating the authoritarian Azeri government and ruling elite. Thanks to her dedicated work, we now know how deeply European politicians and businesses are implicated in corruption and bribery related to Azerbaijan.”

Robert Bilott (United States)

Robert Bilott is one of the world’s finest environmental lawyers. With a combination of innovative litigation, scientific understanding, and extraordinary perseverance, he has achieved one of the most significant victories for environmental law and corporate accountability of this century.

In a legal battle lasting 19 years, he represented 70,000 citizens whose drinking water had been contaminated with Perfluorooctanic acid (PFOA) by the chemical giant DuPont. Expanding upon the concept of class-action litigation, he set up a 7-year toxicological study of the 70,000 victims, which contributed significantly to the scientific understanding of the global health risks associated with Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). This class of substances, which do not break down in the environment or the human body, are ubiquitous in our societies today.

At a time when environmental regulation is under serious threat of being watered down in the United States and elsewhere, Bilott successfully won compensation for his clients and continues to call for better regulation of toxic substances.

Ole von Uexkull commented:

“The environmental scandal Robert Bilott uncovered is but the tip of the iceberg of global pollution caused by fluorocarbons. Thanks to his persistent work, the world now knows that this class of chemicals poses a serious threat to public health across the globe and urgently requires regulation.”

Colin Gonsalves (India)

Colin Gonsalves is amongst the most complete human rights lawyers of his generation. He is a Senior Advocate at the Supreme Court of India and the founder of the Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), an Indian national network of public interest lawyers.

Over three decades, HRLN’s lawyers have engaged in public interest litigation to hold the government to account and secure a broad spectrum of human rights. Gonsalves’ clients have included India’s most vulnerable people, such as bonded labourers, ethnic and religious minorities, refugees, slum dwellers, marginalised women and the poor.

Gonsalves’ most significant victories in the courtroom include the 2001 “Right to Food” case, which saw India’s Supreme Court issue far reaching orders enforcing a free midday meal for all schoolchildren and subsidised grain for over 400 million Indians living below the poverty line.

In 2016 and 2017, Gonsalves obtained landmark judgements from the Supreme Court that ended the longstanding immunity of the Indian Armed Forces from criminal prosecution. This is already having a significant impact in reducing the number of extrajudicial executions occurring in India’s Northeast.

Ole von Uexkull commented:

“Colin Gonsalves has built a network of lawyers all over India who help the most disadvantaged people access their rights. His famous Right-to-Food case at the Indian Supreme Court, for instance, has given 400 million people better nutrition. At a time when India, like many countries, is becoming more authoritarian, Colin and his lawyers’ network play a crucial role in defending the Indian democracy.”

Yetnebersh Nigussie (Ethiopia)

Yetnebersh Nigussie is an Ethiopian activist working for human rights based on her own experience of being discriminated against coming from a “developing country”, being young, a woman – and blind. She is fearlessly pushing for women’s and girls’ rights, inclusive education and a vibrant civil society. Nigussie is an outstanding advocate for the rights enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

Through her tireless efforts, she has changed perceptions on disability in her own society and internationally with the compelling message: “Focus on the person, not the disability. We have one disability, but 99 abilities to build on!”

Currently a Senior Inclusion Advisor with the international disability and development NGO, Light for the World, Nigussie fights for the inclusion of the 15% – more than 1 billion – of the world’s population who have some kind of disability. She strives to create inclusive conditions for future generations by connecting national realities with international frameworks.

Ole von Uexkull commented:

“Yetnebersh Nigussie is a shining star of hope for all, not just for the more than 1 billion people with some kind of disability. With her personal story and her political work as an activist, she makes a strong case for positive social change, based on people’s rights and people’s abilities. With Yetnebersh Nigussie, we honour a courageous woman who shows the enormous potential of inclusive societies.”

Jon Queally is senior editor and staff writer for Common Dreams.

This article was republished from Common Dreams.

See also:
6 Badass Acts Of Resistance Erased From History
5 Japanese-American Women Activists Left Out Of U.S. History Books

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

March 28, 2020

Lovely Venus offers pleasures to both begin and end the day. Her post-midnight trine to Jupiter keeps wide-eyed night owls and talkative partygoers engaged and entertained. The Moon, first in Taurus and much later, after nightfall in Gemini, forms half a…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

March 2020

Keynotes: Susan Lataille, Roland M. Comtois and Rhys Thomas. 40 vendors! Terrific line up of passionate heart-based educators sharing empowering practices of living well. Tickets on...

Where:
Crowne Plaza Hotel
Warwick, RI


Telephone: 508-615-9805
Website »

More information

This Introductory class will lead into a Starseed Ascension Workshop series with 3 Levels. SPECIAL BONUS!  Receive a $25 discount on the Level 1 Workshop, April 4-5, if you attend this...

Cost: $95

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street, #1A
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

Join Jeffrey Warren and Danielle Dionne for an evening of ecstatic trance exploration through sound and movement. Trance dance has the potential to be a gateway for self-exploration, healing,...

Cost: $25

Where:
Moth & Moon Studio
173 South River Rd
Suite #4
Bedford, NH  03110
View map »


Sponsor: Jeffrey Charles Warren
Contact Name: Jeffrey Charles Warren
Website »

More information

Come shine with us! Join us in harmony and in our goal to bring the light of Spiritualism forward to all those who are searching.

Where:
VFW Post 2597
775 Boston Rd, Rt 3A
Billerica, MA
View map »


Sponsor: The Spiritualist Fellowship Church Of New England
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Join us for Monday Morning Meditation and discover the serenity and silence within your own being. This group is designed for people who are new to meditation and looking to explore the benefits...

Cost: $15

Where:
Moth & Moon Studio
173 South River Rd
Suite #4
Bedford, NH  03110
View map »


Sponsor: Jeffrey Charles Warren
Contact Name: Jeffrey Charles Warren
Website »

More information

We invite you to join our Monday evening community group. We are creating this group to introduce Mindfulness and Compassion meditations to the broader population, and to support the graduates of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online
, MA


Sponsor: Center for Mindfulness and Compassion
Website »

More information

2nd and 4th Monday of every month This psychic message circle is for anyone wishing to raise their connection using their psychic centers known as the “clairs.” Learn how to use...

Cost: $20

Where:
Messages From Heaven Healing and Learning Center
646 Central Street
Suite 3
Leominster, MA
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Taijiquan (Tai Chi) morning classes every Tuesday 10-11:30am Taijiquan is a way to stay young and healthy using gentle flowing movements that uses not just the body but the mind as...

Cost: $20

Where:
Metta Wellness
679 Pleasant Street
Paxton, MA  01612
View map »


Sponsor: Metta Wellness
Telephone: 774-245-5487
Contact Name: Rick Rocha
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Show More...
Show Less...

This is a time where you’re probably finding life moving at a slower pace, which offers an unprecedented global opportunity for greater self care. With all the demands and speed of modern...

Where:
Online
, MA

More information

On March 26th, experience the mycelium network in action. To watch Fantastic Fungi at home and register for the Q&A, click here. As we enter into an even vaster understanding of just how...

Where:
Online
, MA


Sponsor: Louie Schwartzberg and Paul Stamets
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In this time of social distancing, it's important to make time and create new habits around maintaining your wellness. In support of that, we have gathered over 30 professionals who have...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online
, NH


Sponsor: Ramsay Media LLC
Contact Name: Paul Ramsay
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In this time of social distancing, it's important to make time and create new habits around maintaining your wellness. In support of that, we have gathered over 30 professionals who have...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online
, NH


Sponsor: Ramsay Media LLC
Contact Name: Paul Ramsay
Website »

More information

In her Art and Spirit workshops, Melissa combines her gift as an intuitive with her extensive background in painting to help you to work through creative blocks and learn or refine technique. Come...

Cost: $150

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street, #1A
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

“Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.” —Thich Nhat...

Cost: $30 before 3/25 ($35 after)

Where:
Online
, MA


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags