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Syeda Rizwana Hasan

Syeda Rizwana Hasan


Syeda Rizwana Hasan is a lawyer of the Bangladesh Supreme Court and the chief executive of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA). She is a member of the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide, and the Environmental Law Commission of International Unions for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Additionally, she is a member of the board of the South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE). Over the past 20 years, Syeda Rizwana Hasan has been advocating for environment protection on issues such as deforestation, pollution, unregulated ship breaking, illegal appropriation of wetlands, cutting of hills, unregulated mining, unplanned urbanization, commercial shrimp cultivation, and illegal land development in Bangladesh. In 2022, she was awarded the International Women of Courage Award by the US Department of State

Human rights defenders in Bangladesh face judicial harassment, arbitrary arrest, fabricated charges, abduction, physical attacks, torture and extrajudicial killings. Local extremist groups pledging allegiance to Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent often claimed responsibility for the attacks, which have targeted HRDs who write about women’s rights, indigenous peoples’ rights, freedom of religion, and other human rights issues. Despite these risks, there was no impetus on the part of the government to address the protection needs of HRDs. The authorities have so far failed to properly investigate a majority of the murders and impunity remains a serious concern.

HRDs working on different rights issues – including indigenous peoples' rights, economic social and cultural rights, women’s rights, migrant rights, labour rights, LGBTI rights, freedom of expression, police brutality, extra-judicial killings and disappearances, and sexual and reproductive rights – report decreasing their public activism and online writings in their area of expertise. Women human rights defenders have been particularly vulnerable: many of them have been sexually harassed and assaulted.