Kalpona Akter, an activist for garment's workers in Bangladesh has been honoured with the Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism for 2016 for her outstanding achievements, along with four other human rights activists.
Earlier on Thursday, Kenneth Roth, executive director for Human Rights Watch, released a statement saying: “The Alison Des Forges Award honours people who have spent their lives defending some of the world’s most oppressed and vulnerable people”.
Kalpona Akter had to toil through her childhood as a child worker in a garments factory herself. Her endurance and tenacity rallied co-workers to demand fair wages and treatment in the workplace.
Under threats of physical violence and work termination, she did not waver and has gone on to found Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity (BCWS).
Her organisation performs advocacy, analysis, and investigations on a regular basis.
Furthermore, she strives to ensure that worker groups are involved with the Sustainability Compact of the EU to raise labour standards in Bangladesh.
The award also honours Pierre Claver Mbonimpa from Burundi who is a vocal opponent of socio-ethnic discrimination and oppression in his country.
His staunch position on the treatment of prisoners and activists in his country had warranted him an assassination attempt which he survived.
Ratnaboli Ray from India has been a leading voice for the rights of people with mental health conditions in India.
Considering the ill-treatment of the people in the country, she has organised training programs to provide them with skills, and dialogues to reduce stigma and abuse in the public and private sectors.
Nicholas Opiyo is a human rights lawyer who often challenges unethical and oppressive constitutions. His valiant efforts disposed of the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2013 which served the maximum penalty of death to any and all offenders.
Yonous Muhammadi is an Afghani expatriate living in Greece who is among the most renowned defenders of refugee rights.
He strives to ensure that asylum seekers and refugees are provided adequate medical services and other basic necessities.
The four 2016 recipients will be honored at the Voices for Justice Human Rights Watch Annual Dinners which will be held in more than 20 cities worldwide. They will be joined by Nicholas Opiyo from Uganda who is a past international recipient of the award.
Mbonimpa in Santa Barbara and Paris; Akter will be honored in Geneva; Ray in Toronto; and Muhammadi in Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, and San Francisco. Opiyo will be honored in Munich.