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Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought-NUIG students debate and vote

Sakharov debate NUIG Galway 1 October 2012
Sakharov students debate

In conjunction with the European Parliament Office in Ireland, the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the National University of Ireland, Galway, held a meeting this evening in Galway to debate and vote on the nominees for the 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, and thus promote the debate on the individual human rights issues to which the prize relates.  This was the third successive year in which such an event had taken place.

As part of the event, each of the initial list of nominees who had been submitted to the European Parliament by political groups or 40 MEPS was represented by BA, LLM or PHD students, who each gave a short presentation, and argued the case for the award to be given to "their" nominee.  The floor was then opened for debate on the merits of specific nominees, and on the criteria for their selection. At the end of the debate the audience was asked to vote on which of the nominees to recommend for the 2012 Sakharov Prize.

The results of the vote by order of preference were as follows:

•       Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, Déogratias Mushayidi and Bernard Ntaganda, three Rwandan opposition representatives
•       Nasrin Sotoudeh and Jafar Panahi, two Iranian human rights campaigners:
•       Joseph Francis (Pakistan), founder of the Center for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement
•       Ales Bialiatski, a human rights defender from Belarus
•       Pussy Riot, a Russian punk group (represented by Nadezhda Andreyevna Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina)

The three Rwandan opposition representatives, Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, Déogratias Mushayidi and Bernard Ntaganda, were thus chosen as the 2012 winner of the vote by the Galway students

The organiser of the event was Dr Karen Da Costa and Dr Noelle Higgins of the Irish Centre for Human Rights in conjunction with Francis Jacobs of the European Parliament Information Office in Ireland.