The “Blue Planet Award 2010” has been given to the German human rights activist Elias Bierdel. Elias Bierdel has become well-known as head and chairman of the humanitarian organization “Cap Anamur/Deutsche Notärzte e.V.” In that kind of function he took part in 2004 in the recovery of 37 African refugees who had got in distress on their way to Europe across the Mediterranean. For three weeks their rescue boat was refused access to a nearby Italian harbour. Subsequently, Bierdel, the ship’s captain and the first officer were arrested because of people smuggling. The three of them were in danger of prison sentences of several years and of a heavy fine. They were acquitted not until October 2009. With these experiences on his mind Bierdel founded the humanitarian organization “borderline-europe – Menschenrechte ohne Grenzen e.V.” („Human Rights without Borders“). It is devoted to demonstrate the tragedies of refugees at the European Union’s external borders to the public. At the moment Bierdel is responsible for the training of civil activists of peace (for the UN, the MSF etc.) at the “Österreichisches Zentrum für Frieden und Konfliktlösung” („Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution“).
The world-famous Israeli activist for peace Uri Avnery, prizewinner of the International ethecon Blue Planet Award 2009, comments on this year’s award for Elias Bierdel as follows: “I am pleased to see that the award has been conferred to a man giving support to refugees. I do not know any task more honourable than that.”