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

Students of human rights of the MSc/LLM programmes in Human Rights at UCD took part in a debate on the human rights issue

Students from the MSc/LLM programmes in Human Rights at University College Dublin took part in an event on 13 October 2011 at EU House Dublin to publicise the 2011 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, and to promote the debate on the individual human rights issues to which the prize relates.  This was the first time that UCD students had taken part in such a debate.  

The overall winner of the student debate was Ali Farzat (Syria, part of Arab Spring nomination) who narrowly defeated Dzmitry Bandarenka (Belarusian civil activist and member of the Belarusian Association of Journalists Belarus).


As part of the event, each of the initial list of 9 nominees who had been submitted to the Parliament by political groups or 40 MEPS was represented by UCD human rights students. The various nominees submitted as part of the "Arab Spring" nomination were submitted separately. Each group of students gave a short presentation and argued the case for the award to be given to "their" nominee. Following the presentations, the floor was opened for a short debate among the attending students and academics. At the end of this debate the audience was asked to take part in two rounds of voting on the nominees, firstly to draw up a short-list of three nominees, and then to vote on who they thought should be the overall winner.  At the end of the second round there was a tie between two of the nominees, and a third and decisive round of voting was then held.

The results of these votes were as follows ->

First Round:
Dzmitry Bandarenka (Belarus) 7
Razan Zaitouneh (Syria, part of Arab Spring nomination) 4
Ali Farzat (Syria , part of Arab Spring nomination) 4
Mohammed Bouazizi (Tunisia, part of Arab Spring nomination) 3
Boris Pahor (Slovenia) 3
Asmaa Mahfouz  (Egypt, part of Arab Spring nomination) 2
Ahmed Al Zubair,  Ahmed al Sanusi  (Libya, part of Arab Spring nomination) 1
San Jose de Apartado Peace Community (Colombia) 1
Izzeldin Abuelaish (Palestinian doctor) 0

Second Round:
Dzmitry Bandarenka 8
Ali Farzat 8
Razan Zaitouneh 6

Third Round:
Ali Farzat 12
Dzmitry Bandarenka 11

Ali Farzat was thus chosen as the overall winner of the vote by the UCD students, who were informed that the outcome of the meeting would be transmitted to Irish MEPs and to Subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament.

The organiser of the event was Dr Graham Finlay of the School of Politics and International Relations at UCD, who has expressed the wish that the event be followed up on an annual basis. It is hoped that next year the concept might be extended to other Irish universities besides NUIG and UCD and that an Ireland-wide Sakharov event might be hosted.