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Candidates nominated for 2012 Sakharov Prize

Candidates for the 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought were nominated today.  They will be presented in a joint meeting of the committees for foreign affairs, development and human rights on 25 September.

The following candidates were nominated on Thursday as candidates for the 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Nominations require the support of at least 40 Members of the European Parliament or one political group.

Ales Bialiatski

Mr Bialiatski is a freedom fighter and human rights defender, currently imprisoned by the Belarusian regime. Mr Ales Bialiatski has been a committed civil society activist fighting for freedom of thought and expression in Belarus his entire life. Mr Bialiatski founded the Viasna Human Rights Centre, a non-governmental organisation which provides financial and legal assistance to political prisoners and their families.

Joseph Francis

Joseph Francis is the founder and director of the Center for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS).  Founded in 1992, CLAAS addresses the needs of victims of Pakistan's blasphemy laws, through legal assistance and other means trying to help victims with shelter (safe houses) and with relocation if necessary

Three imprisoned Rwandan opposition representatives have tried to put an end to the cycle of violence by fostering dialogue and reconciliation.

Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza

Victoire Ingabire is an active advocate in several political movements of the Rwandan diaspora.  She was forbidden in 2010 to run for presidential elections in Rwanda and is since then imprisoned being charged with attempting against state security and espousing a genocide ideology.

Déogratias Mushayidi

Déogratias (Déo) Mushayidi, chairman of the political party the Pact People's Defence (PDP) was kidnapped in Burundi and serves a life-imprisonment sentence in Rwanda where he has been deported from Burundi.

Bernard Ntaganda

Bernard Ntaganda, founder of the social party Imberukari, was imprisoned the same day when candidatures for the presidency of Rwanda had to be registered.

Pussy Riot, represented by Nadezhda Andreyevna Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina

The acts of protest and the arrest of these three young women, taken with the conditions of their detention - which border on torture - and their sentencing to two years in a labour camp, have done far more to focus the world's attention on the unscrupulous restriction of civil rights and the absence of the rule of law in Russia than did the earlier murders of journalists or the new repressive laws.

Nasrin Sotoudeh

Nasrin Sotoudeh is an Iranian lawyer and human rights advocate. She has represented imprisoned Iranian opposition activists and politicians, following the disputed June 2009 presidential elections as well as juvenile offenders facing the death sentence. Ms. Sotoudeh was arrested in September 2010 on charges of spreading propaganda and conspiring to harm state security and has been imprisoned in solitary confinement in Evin Prison.

Jafar Panahi

Jafar Panahi is an Iranian film director, screenwriter and film editor. Panahi first achieved international recognition with his feature film debut The White Balloon in 1995. The film won the Caméra d'Or at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival, which was the first major award won by an Iranian film at Cannes. His films are known for their humanistic perspective on life in Iran, often focusing on the hardships of children, the impoverished and women

Next steps

The nominees will be presented in a joint meeting of the foreign affairs committee, development committee and human rights subcommittee on Tuesday, 25 September. Committees will vote on three finalists on 9 October and the Conference of Presidents will decide on the Laureate on 26 October.