Elias Bierdel/Austria awarded with the International ethecon Blue Planet Award 2010
(Berlin) Elias Bierdel /Austria appeared overwhelmed by the presentation of this year´s international ethecon Blue Planet Award. On Saturday, November 20, almost 200 people were present at the Pfefferwerk in Berlin when the former federal minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul (SPD) gave an account of how the refugee- and human rights activist was arrested in Italy, thrown into prison and brought before a court. This was for nothing more than the fact that he and his colleagues had rescued 37 African refugees from drowning in the Mediterrean Sea. „The way the EU treats refugees is a disgrace to Europe!“ she stated quite clearly. In 2004 Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul called for Bierdel´s immediate release, thereby taking a stand against her party colleague, the then minister of the interior Otto Schily. Along with Italian president Berlusconi, he wanted to set a completely different example in regard to refugee issues. The trial ended in October 2009 with the acquittal of all defendants. Because of these experiences, Bierdel, who had been a correspondent for the German television network ARD and also honored with the Media Award of the Protestant Church, founded with others „borderline europe“. It has since been his cause „to raise awareness for the appalling fact, that on the borders of that fortress of prosperity known as Europe, year after year thousands of women and men meet their deaths.“ The bestowel of the Blue Planet Award on Elias Bierdel was greeted by the audience with a standing ovation.
The prize is a unique piece of art, created by the internationally known photo artist Katherina Mayer, from Duesseldorf. Personally present at the ceremony, she declared herself „proud to present the trophy to an individual who answers the question about ‚how to measure the human condition‘ with ‚radical humanism‘“.
At the conference, the counterpart to the positive Blue Planet Award, the negative Black Planet, was also conferred. In his damning speech, Dr. Winfried Wolf, editor-in-chief of the quarterly Lunapark21, presented the many reasons why Tony Hayward, Bob Dudley, Carl-Hendric Svanberg, the further executive management as well as the major stockholders of the oil company BP were to receive this public flogging. „Acting solely to increase their own profits, they practice environmental destruction on a large scale,“ as became clear in April of this year with the explosion of the oil platform Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. The abbreviation „BP“ stands in actuality for „Bloody Profits“, i.e. for profit making without taking into account the possible destruction of the planet and human death.
The awards ceremony was part of the conference theme „Nuclear Power - No Thanks“. Wolfgang Ehmke from the „Luechow-Dannenberg Citizens' Initiative for Ecological Protection“ was still very much influenced by incidents surrounding the Castor transport to the Wendland at the beginning of the month. „With its year-long actions and campaigns, Wendland set the scene for Stuttgart21: nuclear waste must stay above ground“!
Since 2006 „ethecon - Foundation Ethics & Economics“ confers these two international awards annually. A positive prize, the „Blue Planet Award“, honours outstanding efforts to maintain and save the „Blue Planet“. Its negative counterpart, the „Black Planet Award“, exposes and condemns actions responsible for the ruin and destruction of the „Blue Planet“. With its positive prizes ethecon honoured in past years Diane Wilson/USA (2006), Vandana Shiva/India (2007), José Abreu und Hugo Chávez/Venezuela (2008) as well as Uri Avnery/Israel (2009). The censure awards went to the owners, shareholders and executive management of the following companies: Monsanto/USA (2006), Nestlé/Switzerland(2007), Blackwater (Xe)/USA (2008) and Formosa Plastics Group/Taiwan (2009).
In contrast to many corporate, family, church, political and state foundations, ethecon is one of the few foundations empowered by ordinary citizens, which sees its mission in its responsibility towards coming generations. This young foundation is financed through endowment contributions, donations and sustaining memberships.