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2011 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought - five nominations

AFET DEVE DROI Press release - Human rights15-09-2011 - 14:59

This year's nominees for the 2011 Sakharov Prize are Izzeldin Abuelaish (Palestinian Territories), a group of five activists from the Arab world , Dzmitry Bandarenka (Belarus), Boris Pahor (Slovenia) and the San José de Apartadó Peace Community (Colombia).

Izzeldin Abuelaish - nominated by the ECR group
A Palestinian doctor and founder of the Daughters for Life Foundation, Mr Abuelaish has dedicated his life to pursuing peace between Israel and Palestine and is known for creating a "magical, secret bridge" between the two peoples.

Five Arab spring activists: Mohamed Bouazizi (Tunisia), Asmaa Mahfouz (Egypt), Ahmed al-Zubair Ahmed al-Sanusi (Libya) and Razan Zeitouneh and Ali Farzat (both from Syria) nominated jointly  by the EPP, S&D, ALDE and Green groups

Mohamed Bouazizi is the young man who set fire to himself on 17 December 2010 in Sidi Bouzid (Tunisia). His desperate gesture was the trigger for the broad popular movement that led to the fall of the regime.

Asmaa Mahfouz is one of the founders of the Egyptian youth movement. Her call for freedom recorded on 18 January and posted on YouTube was seen by hundreds of thousands of people and inspired them to gather in Tahrir square. In 2011 she was arrested on charges of defaming the Egyptian military rulers whom she called a "council of dogs". She was referred to a military court, but after protests from prominent activists she was released on bail and the Supreme Council of Armed forces dropped the charges.

Ahmed al-Zubair Ahmed al-Sanusi, 77-year-old dissident and Libya's longest-serving "prisoner of conscience". He was accused of conspiracy in an attempted coup against Col Gaddafi in 1970 and spent 31 years in prison, four more than Nelson Mandela. He was released in August 2001, alongside dozens of other political prisoners. Today, Ahmed al-Zubair Ahmed al-Sanusi is in charge of political prisoners within the National Transitional Council and struggles to improve the human rights situation in Libya.

Razan Zeitouneh is one of the leaders of the committees coordinating the revolt in Syria. The 34-year-old lawyer went into hiding when several members of her family, including her husband, were arrested. The regime accused her of supporting terrorists and being an agent in the pay of foreigners. As a human rights defender she founded a website on political prisoners. As a consequence she is banned from travelling outside Syria.

Ali Farzat is a renowned Syrian political satirist, who has published more than 15,000 cartoons in Syrian, Arab and international newspapers. Because they target regimes, and single out government figures, he was badly beaten in August by Syrian security forces, who broke both his hands. 

In response to news of Farzat's ordeal, Syrian opposition members expressed outrage and several online activists replaced their Facebook profile pictures with a photo showing Farzat in hospital, in solidarity with the cartoonist. The incident provoked an outpouring of solidarity by cartoonists around the world.

Dzmitry Bandarenka - nominated by the ECR group
Dzmitry Bandarenka is a Belarusian civil activist and member of the Belarusian Association of Journalists. He is one of the co-founders of the Charter '97 civil rights initiative and co-ordinator of the European Belarus civil campaign.

Boris Pahor - nominated by MEP Milan ZVER (EPP, SL) and 51 other MEPs
Boris Pahor is a Slovenian writer, fighter for freedom of thought, strong opponent of totalitarian regimes, defender of human rights and fundamental freedoms and a strong advocate of minority rights and minority languages.

The San José de Apartadó Peace Community - nominated by the GUE/NGL group
According to the nomination, this Colombian community of "campesinos" - peasant farmers, has become an internationally recognized symbol of courage, resilience and dedication to the values of peace and justice, in an environment of brutality and destruction.

What next?
These nominations will be presented at the joint meeting of the committees on Foreign Affairs, and Development and the Subcommittee on Human Rights on 5 October 2011, followed by a vote on 20 October to pick the three finalists.  The Conference of Presidents will choose the laureate on 27 October (in Strasbourg) and the laureate will be invited to the award ceremony on 14 December, in Strasbourg.

REF. : 20110912IPR26376
Updated: ( 15-09-2011 - 17:10)