The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought this year will go to the so-called Opposition Coordination Council in Belarus.
The “initiative of courageous women,” including opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and Nobel laureate Svetlana Aleksijevich, must “remain strong and continue” the fight against President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime, according to European Parliament President David Sassoli. In Brussels.
Sassoli commended the ten members of the council who were awarded the prize for their “courage and determination every day”. “Know that we are by your side”. He said he hoped to receive the winners for the awards ceremony soon. It is on the agenda for the parliament session in December.
The other finalists were Honduran activist Berta Cáceres, murdered in 2016 and Archbishop of Mosul in Iraq, Najeeb Michael.
The EU parliament established the human rights prize, which is worth € 50,000, in 1988. The Sakharov Prize is named after Soviet dissident and Nobel Prize winner Andrei Sakharov. Last year, the prize went to the Uyghur economist and human rights activist Ilham Tohti. Nelson Mandela was one of the previous winners.
The EU does not recognize President Lukashenko. Lukashenko claims to have won the elections in Belarus on August 9 with 80 percent of the vote. The EU has taken punitive measures against Lukashenko and others involved in the alleged electoral fraud and the crackdown on protesters.