Launch of Sakharov Prize 2008: eight candidates presented
Mnskliga rttigheter – 09-09-2008 – 13:31
The eight nominations for this year’s Sakharov Prize, the EP’s prize for
defenders of human rights and democracy, were officially presented on
Tuesday at a joint meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the
Development Committee and the Human Rights Subcommittee. The winner will
be chosen in mid-October.
Candidates for the prize must be supported by a political group or at
least 40 individual MEPs. This year’s candidates are (in alphabetical
Ingrid Betancourt – Colombian-French politician and anti-corruption
activist, kidnapped by FARC on 23 February 2002 while campaigning for
the Colombian presidency, and rescued from captivity this July.
According to the nomination, “Betancourt has constantly spoken out and
stood up to the forces of terrorism and its devastating effects against
ordinary, innocent people both in Colombia and around the world”.
Nominated by Martin Schulz on behalf of the PES Group.
Dalai Lama – Spiritual and political leader of the Tibetan people. The
nomination highlights the Dalai Lama’s “message of peace, non-violence,
inter-religious understanding, universal responsibility and compassion.”
Nominated by Cristiana Muscardini on behalf of the UEN group and
Piia-Noora Kauppi, Aloyzas Sakalas and 39 others.
European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) – Body campaigning against
anti-Romani racism and abuse. According to the nomination, “since its
establishment in 1996, the ERRC has endeavoured to give Roma the tools
necessary to combat discrimination and win equal access to government,
education, employment, health care, housing and public services.”
Nominated by Vittorio Agnoletto on behalf of the GUE/NGL group.
Hu Jia – Chinese campaigner for civil rights, environmental protection
and AIDS advocacy. Following his testimony on human rights in China,
given on 26 November 2007 via conference call to the EP’s Human Rights
Subcommittee, Hu Jia was arrested, charged with “inciting subversion of
state power” and sentenced to three-and-a-half years’ in jail.
Nominated by Graham Watson on behalf of the ALDE group, Monica Frassoni
and Daniel Cohn-Bendit on behalf of the Greens/EFA Group and 55 others.
Alexander Kozulin – Former presidential candidate in Belarus. According
to the nomination, “Aleksandr Kozulin has shown great courage to
withstand the regime’s actions and to fight for freedom of thought and
expression and basic civil rights. In 2006, during the presidential
campaign, he was beaten several times, detained and finally sentenced to
five and a half years of imprisonment”. Nominated by Jacek Protasiewicz,
Jan Marinus Wiersma and 44 others.
Abbot Apollinaire Malu Malu – Chair of the Independent Electoral
Commission of Democratic Republic of Congo. The nomination praises “his
efforts in making dialogue prevail over violence during the Goma
conference [aimed at bringing peace to the DRC provinces of North and
South Kivu] and for dedicating his wisdom and experience to realising
these principles throughout his career”. Nominated by Luisa Morgantini,
Alain Hutchinson, Jürgen Schrder, Johan Van Hecke and 44 others.
Mikhail Ivanovich Trepashkin – Russian lawyer and democracy campaigner.
According to the nomination, as an FSB (KGB) detective, “Trepashkin
uncovered a number of cases where his colleagues from the secret
services were involved in corruption, organised crime and terrorism.”
He was persecuted, then jailed for four years. Released in November 2007
following an international campaign, he has since continued campaigning
for human rights and democracy in Russia. Nominated by Gerard Batten on
behalf of the IND/DEM Group.
Morgan Tsvangirai – Zimbabwean opposition leader. The nomination states
“For many years Morgan Tsvangirai has fought for democracy, freedom of
speech and the rule of law in Zimbabwe. At enormous personal risk he has
led the main opposition party and has courageously endured a succession
of assassination attempts and politically motivated arrests.” Nominated
by Luís Queiró and 96 others.
The next step takes place on 22 September, when the Foreign Affairs
Committee and the Development Committee, at a meeting in camera, will
narrow down the number of candidates to a shortlist of three. The
Conference of Presidents will select the winner in mid-October and the
prize will be awarded to the laureate at the Strasbourg plenary sitting
of 17 December.
20th anniversary of Sakharov Prize
This year is the 20th anniversary of the Sakharov Prize, which was first
awarded in 1988 in honour of the Soviet physicist and political
dissident Andrei Sakharov. To mark the occasion, a special event to
which all previous winners of the prize are to be invited is being held
in Strasbourg on 16 December.
Previous winners of the prize
1988 Nelson Mandela and Anatoli Marchenko (posthumously)
1989 Alexander Dubcek
1990 Aung San Suu Kyi
1991 Adem Demai
1992 Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo
1994 Taslima Nasreen
1995 Leyla Zana
1996 Wei Jinsheng
1997 Salima Ghezali
1998 Ibrahim Rugova
1999 Xanana Gusmo
2000 Basta Ya!
2001 Izzat Ghazzawi, Nurit Peled-Elhanan and Dom Zacarias Kamwenho
2002 Oswaldo José Payá Sardias
2003 UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and all the UN staff
2004 Belarusian Association of Journalists
2005 Ladies in White, Hauwa Ibrahim, Reporters without Frontiers
2006 Alexander Milinkevich
2007 Salih Mahmoud Osman
Co-chair : Jacek SARYUSZ-WOLSKI (EPP-ED, PL)
Co-Chair : Josep BORRELL FONTELLES (PES, ES)
Co-chair : Hélène FLAUTRE (Greens/EFA, FR)