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Remembering Irene Fernandez - celebrating Glorene Das

03 Apr 2016

“Never ever be afraid to speak the truth, especially for the ones who do not have a voice in our society”. This was the motto of Right Livelihood Award Laureate Irene Fernandez from Malaysia, who suddenly passed away two years ago. Her successor, Glorene Das, has lead the organisation through this tough time with great vision and compassion.  

Irene Fernandez received the Right Livelihood Award in 2005 "for her outstanding and courageous work to stop violence against women and abuses of migrant and poor workers". Born in 1946, Irene was a champion of the rights of the poorest and most disadvantaged people. In 1991, she founded the organisation Tenaganita that works for the rights of migrant workers and refugees in Malaysia.

Today, these topics are more important than ever. In 2014, we were in the process of organising a seminar in the Swedish Parliament with Irene, when we received the shocking news of her death from heart failure. She passed away much too early and left a huge void.

One year ago, at our Asian Laureates' regional conference in Mumbai, I had the great fortune to get to know Irene's successor as Executive Director of Tenaganita, Glorene Das. The above picture shows Glorene with Laureates Swami Agnivesh from India (RLA 2004) and Huang Ming from China (RLA 2011).

Irene Fernandez could not have found a worthier successor than Glorene Das. Glorene had been working with Tenaganita for several years and was catapulted to the helm of the organisation suddenly because of Irene's passing. A passionate leader and eloquent ambassador of the voiceless, Glorene has continued to build Tenaganita during these difficult times.

And thus, the most beautiful text commemorating Irene is this comment published by Glorene Das a few days ago. Dear Glorene and colleagues at Tenaganita, keep up the great work!

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