Thu. Oct 22nd, 2020
Belarus opposition activists nominated for EU human rights prize

The opposition movement in Belarus and LGBTI activists in Poland are among those in the running for a prestigious human rights award.

They are three of five nominations for the Sakharov Prize, which is awarded each year by the European Parliament.

The prize, first inaugurated in 1988, honours people or groups around the globe who defend human rights.

For a nomination to be valid it must come from a political group in the European Parliament or at least 40 MEPs.

Belarus’ opposition movement was nominated twice.

The EPP, S&D and Renew Europe nominated a broad alliance of people involved, including the five women of the Coordination Council (Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya; Svetlana Alexievich; Maria Kolesnikova; Volha Kavalkova and Veranika Tsapkala) and those behind the Viasna Human Rights Centre and the NEXTA Telegram channel.

The centre-right European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group nominated the democratic opposition in Belarus, represented by Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.

The European Union has rejected the official results of the August 9 presidential election which credited incumbent Alexander Lukashenko, who has been ruling the eastern European county for 26 years, with over 80 per cent of the vote. They’ve also condemned the violence unleashed on peaceful protesters.

Polish LGBTI activists Jakub Gawron, Paulina Pajak, Pawel Preneta and Kamil Maczuga were nominated by over 40 MEPS for founding the Atlas for Hate website. The web page maps and monitors the more than 100 Polish municipalities that have declared themselves either “LGBTI-free zones” or adopted so-called Regional Charters of Family Values.

Berta Caceres, a Honduran ecologist and prominent land activist assassinated in March 2016, was nominated by green MEPs. For over two decades, she fought against land grabbing, illegal logging and mega-projects. Also included on the nomination were Guapinol environmental activists imprisoned for peacefully protesting against a mining company whose activities had led to the contamination of rivers were nominated.

The final nomination is Najeeb Moussa Michaeel, the Archbishop of Mosul in Iraq. When the so-called Islamic State arrived in the Iraqi city in 2016 he is credited with “ensuring the evacuation of Christians, Syriacs and Chaldeans to Iraqi Kurdistan and safeguarding more than 800 historic manuscripts dating from the 13th to the 19th century”.

The 2019 Sakharov Prize was awarded to Ilham Tohti, a renowned Uyghur human rights defender, and economics professor.

The prize is named after the Soviet scientist, dissident and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov. It’s awarded to those who, like Sakharov, have dedicated their lives to the defence of human rights.

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