Tag Archives: Sakharov Prize

Tajani calls for release of Sentsov

Sakharov Prizie winner Oleg Sentsov  cousin Natalya Kaplan and lawyer Dmitriy Dinze represented him during the ceremony in Strasbourg  Sentsov was not in the Parliament to collect the award in person, because he remains in prison in Siberia.

Oleg Sentsov was nominated for his peaceful protest against the illegal occupation of his native Crimea. Also for his courage, determination and his convictions in support of human dignity, democracy, the rule of law and human rights; these are the values on which our Union is built, even more after the terrible attack of yesterday, values that this Parliament cherishes, upholds and promotes.” the Parliament President Antonio Tajani said, while awarding the Prize.

Sentsov’s hunger strike and courageous public stance made him a symbol of the struggle for the release of political prisoners held in Russia and around the world,” he added. Noting that the award comes against a backdrop of serious tensions between Russia and Ukraine, Tajani called for a de-escalation of the situation and reiterated support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

The President called for the immediate and unconditional release of Sentsov and all other illegally detained Ukrainian citizens in Russia and the Crimean peninsula as well as other imprisoned laureates: “The Sakharov Prize is not only an award. It is a commitment. And we keep standing close by our laureates.”










MEPs nominate Sentsov for Sakharov Prize

This week  the European  Parliament president Antonio Tajani and the leaders of the political groups during the Conference of Presidents  meeting will select this year’s winner of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought from among the three finalists. The prize will be awarded in a ceremony in Strasbourg on 12 December.

The biggest  political group – the European Peoples Party (EPP) – has nominated Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov who was sentenced for 20 years’ imprisonment by a Russian court on charges of plotting terrorist acts against Russian authorities in Crimea, in a process deemed unfair by human rights watchdogs.

On 14 May, Sentsov went on hunger strike, lasting over 100 days, to call for the release of around 70 other Ukrainian citizens who are to his opinion illegally arrested and convicted to long prison sentences by Russian judges.

Nadia Murad: from ISIS slave to Nobel prize winner

Iraqi Nadia Murad, the winner of the Sakharov Prize 2016 of the European Parliament shared with Congolese Denis Mukwege the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon in war.

The courage and resilience of Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad, in their fight for common human values, deserve the . Proud that the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize has already saluted their extraordinary humanitarian work” wrote the Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament in his microblog.

Captured by soldiers of Islamic state, Murad was transported to Mosul, the de facto “capital” of the ISIS’s caliphate.

During her ordeal Murad and the other women sex-slaves held captive and systematically gang-raped, tortured and beaten.

The terrorists organised slave markets for selling off the women and girls, and Yazidi women were forced to renounce their religion.

Determined to join her family Murad escaped and cross the few dozen kilometres to Iraqi Kurdistan to enter camps of the displaced Yazidi, where, she learnt that her mother and her six brothers were killed. Helped by an organisation that assists Yazidis, she reunited with her sister in Germany. Since then Murad has become a global voice, campaigning against violence.

Sakharov Prize for Catalan political prisoners

Ivo Vajgl, MEP, ALDE, Slovenia, explains the decision of Catalonia Dialogue Platform to nominate Catalan political prisoners in Spain for Sakharov Prize 2018. Vajgl underlined significance of engaging in dialogue to resolve the argument respecting the fundamental freedoms and human rights.

Catalonia former vice-president Oriol Junqueras, ex-Interior minister Joaquim Forn, and activists Jordi Sànchez, Jordi Cuixart remain in prison. Twenty-eight Catalan politicians are being investigated by Spanish Supreme Court judge for their role in the referendum and subsequent declaration of independence. At present all four men are kept in harsh conditions in prison cells with possible charges of rebellion, sedition, and misuse of public funds for organising the referendum on independence of Catalonia.

The European Parliament supports human rights through the annual Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, established in 1988.  The prize is awarded to individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the fight for human rights across the globe, drawing attention to human rights violations as well as supporting the laureates and their cause.


Sakharov Prize 2017 ceremony in Strasbourg

Representatives of the democratic opposition of Venezuela have today received Parliament´s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought during a ceremony in Strasbourg.

“The Prize is for all Venezuelans in the world,” said Parliament President Antonio Tajani while awarding the prize. The President noted that the human rights situation in Venezuela was deteriorating and called for a “return to free elections with the participation of all so that the Venezuelan people can decide their future”.

“Last weekend, President Maduro decided in an arbitrary and anti-democratic way to prohibit the main opposition parties from running for the presidential elections. This situation cannot continue like this,” Tajani said. “We want the country to return to democracy, to dignity, and freedom,” he stressed.


Accepting the award, Julio Borges, chair of Venezuela’s national assembly, said: “[The Sakharov Prize] is an acknowledgment for mothers denying themselves food to save their children, for children rummaging in the rubbish to satiate their hunger, for old people wasting away to death because of a lack of medicines. A young person who has now emigrated out of despair to seek opportunities elsewhere is another recipient of this prize as is a teacher overcoming ideological blindness and sticking to the task of training free men and women for Venezuela. Or again, those who are fighting for human rights in Venezuela, Venezuelan journalists who take risks throughout their lives in trying to show the true facts that people are trying to keep silent.”, said Mr Julio Borges, President of the Venezuela´s National Assembly.


Later on Borges called for humanitarian help, saying: “Hunger has been made into a political system in Venezuela: 75% of Venezuelans have lost 10 kilos weight over the last 12 months.” He also urged the EU and the world to follow the presidential elections attentively.

Sakharov Prize top nominees 2017

The finalists for this year’s Sakharov Prize have been announced. The laureate will be selected on 26 October by the President and the political group leaders.

Aura Lolita Chavez Ixcaquic, the Democratic Opposition in Venezuela, and the Swedish- Eritrean journalist Dawit Isaak have been named as this year’s finalists for Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought following a vote by the foreign affairs and development committees on 10 October.

The finalists for this year’s Sakharov Prize are:

Aura Lolita Chavez Ixcaquic, a human rights defender from Guatemala. She is a member from the Council of Ki’che’ Peoples (CPK), an organisation that fights to protect natural resources and human rights from the expansion of mining, logging, hydroelectric and agro-industry sectors in the territory and has been subject to threats.

Democratic Opposition in Venezuela: National Assembly (Julio Borges) and all political prisoners as listed by Foro Penal Venezolano represented by Leopoldo López, Antonio Ledezma, Daniel Ceballos, Yon Goicoechea, Lorent Saleh, Alfredo Ramos and Andrea González. The situation in Venezuela has been seriously deteriorating in terms of democracy, human rights and the economy in a climate of growing political and social instability. Political prisoners in Venezuela as as well as the democratic opposition in Venezuela were also shortlisted for the Sakharov Prize in 2015.

Dawit Isaak, a Swedish-Eritrean playwright, journalist and writer, who was arrested in 2001 by the Eritrean authorities during a political crackdown. He has been imprisoned without a trial since and was last seen in 2005. Isaak has been also a Sakharov finalist in 2009.

Asia Bibi, Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag and Pierre Claver Mbonimpa had also been nominated for the Sakharov Prize.

On 26 October Parliament President Antonio Tajani and the leaders of the political groups, known as the Conference of Presidents, will select this year’s laureate from among the finalists. The prize, consisting of a certificate and €50,000, will the awarded in a ceremony in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 13 December 2017.

Russia: Sakharov laureat NGO Memorial estranged



“Today, a Moscow court has confirmed the decision by the Russian Ministry of Justice to include the Memorial International Society on the list of “foreign agents”. This listing, made on 4 October 2016, brings the number of Memorial-affiliated NGOs included in the registry to eight and the number of Russian NGOs currently registered to 149″ -says the statement of the European External Action Service spokesperson.

“The European Union has repeatedly stated that the law on “foreign agents” and the ensuing fines, inspections and stigmatisation, further tighten the restrictions on the exercise of fundamental freedoms in Russia, consume the scarce resources of NGOs and inhibit independent civil society in the country”.

“We continue to call on the Russian authorities to align their policies and legislation with the human rights obligations and commitments that they have undertaken, and to abandon the practice of branding Russian NGOs as “foreign agents”, as well as all resulting administrative harassment”.

“Despite existing difficulties, the European Union is committed to continuing its support for Russian NGOs and civil society. The work of the different Memorial branches, which together form the biggest and oldest network of NGOs, has been and continues to be of the utmost importance for the promotion of human rights in Russia and the preservation of its historical memory”. (Source: European External Action Service)


The Memorial was awarded Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 2009 by the European Parliament for its distinguished record of a ‘prominent and embattled’ Russian human rights group. EP president Jerzy Buzek attributed the award to  Oleg Orlov, Sergei Kovalyov, and Lyudmila Alekseyeva, representing the NGO, adding that it also a gesture of recognition of the efforts of the  human rights defenders in Russia.


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