The names were officially unveiled at a joint meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET), the Development Committee (DEVE) and the Human Rights Subcommittee (DROI). This year's award coincides with the 20th commemoration of Andrei Sakharov's death.
Nominations must have the support of a political group or at least 40 MEPs. This year's nominees are (in alphabetical order):
Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish - Palestinian gynaecologist, resident of Jabalia, the biggest refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. Despite losing his three daughters in an attack in January 2009, Doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish "continues to fight for peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people and tirelessly strives to build bridges between the two war-torn and weary communities", according to the nomination paper. Nominated by Véronique de Keyser (S&D, BE), Hans Gert Pöttering (EPP, DE), Caroline Lucas (Greens/EFA, UK) and 52 other MEPs.
Foundation Vicente Ferrer - Foundation for the protection and promotion of minority rights in India and the eradication of extreme poverty. "Its work in India for 50 years has certainly contributed to improve living standards of many people. The Foundation has strongly supported dignity, equality and the defence of human rights of those who have fewer opportunities to enjoy them", says the supporting statement. Nomination by Andrés Perelló (S&D, ES) and 39 other MEPs.
Dawit Isaak - This Swedish journalist, writer and playwright of Eritrean origin has been a political prisoner since 2001. In a parliamentary resolution, the European Parliament expressed its "deep concern at the continuing imprisonment of Dawit Isaak, held in jail since his arrest in September 2001, without having been tried by a court of law" and demanded his immediate release. Nominated by Eva-Britt Svensson on behalf of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left Group (GUE/NGL) as well as Olle Schmidt (ALDE, SE) and 31 other MEPs.
Mariam Lamizana - Minister for Social Action and National Solidarity of Burkina Faso and activist in the fight against genital mutilation of women. "Thanks to the considerable efforts and to a strong political will to ban the practice of female genital mutilation, Mrs Lamizana obtained very positive results, Burkina Faso being one of the few African countries where this has significantly decreased" say the MEPs supporting Ms Lamisana. Nomination by Francesco Speroni on behalf of Europe of Freedom and Democracy Group (ELD/EFD).
Lyudmila Alexeyeva, Oleg Orlov and Sergei Kovalev on behalf of Memorial and all other human rights defenders in Russia - Organisation promoting fundamental rights in post-Soviet states. The nomination says "Memorial promotes the truth about the political repression of the Soviet Union and fights against current human rights abuses in post-Soviet states to ensure their democratic future". Nominated by Rebecca Harms and Daniel Cohn-Bendit on behalf of Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance.
Memorial - Organisation promoting fundamental rights in post-Soviet states, whose first leader was Andrei Sakharov. The nomination argues that "Memorial should be rewarded for its continued essential work in EU neighbouring countries monitoring the situation in countries of actual or potential conflict and human rights abuse in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Tajikistan, Moldova and Ukraine." Mr Saryusz-Wolski proposed that the nomination of Memorial be considered as a cross-party initiative. Nominated by Jacek Saryusz-Wolski (EPP, PL) and 59 others.
Dr Denis Mukwege - This gynaecologist, the founder and head of Panzi Hospital in Bukavu (DR Congo), has dedicated his life to helping Congolese women and girls who are victims of gang rape and brutal sexual violence. "Dr Mukwege helped to bring global attention to what is described as an 'epidemic' of sexual violence in the eastern DRC, where combatants were using the systematic rape of women and girls as a means of terrorizing and displacing the civilian population." Nominated by Guy Verhofsdtadt on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group (ALDE).
Father Thaddeus Nguyen Van Ly - Roman Catholic priest and prominent Vietnamese dissident involved in pro-democracy movements, for which he was imprisoned for almost 15 years. The Sakharov Prize would not only honour his peaceful campaign but would also send a strong message to the Vietnamese authorities, say his supporters. Nominated by Michael Gahler (EPP, DE) and 44 other MEPs.
Shadi Sadr on behalf of Neda and Iranian citizens striving for respect for human rights - Iranian human rights attorney, feminist, activist and journalist. A campaigner for the abolition of the death penalty and stoning as well as for women's rights. According to the supporting statement, "Ms. Sadr has been championing fundamental human rights for years under a repressive Iranian regime". Nominated by Marietje Schaake (ALDE, NL), Barbara Lochbihler (Greens/EFA, DE) and 38 other MEPs.
Roberto Saviano - Italian journalist and writer, threatened by the mafia as a consequence of his uncompromising attacks on organised crime. His supporters say, "freedom of thought is also damaged in Europe. His nomination would be a strong signal to the criminal organizations." Nominated by Sonia Alfano (ALDE, IT) and 39 other MEPs.
6 Oct 2009
A shortlist of three finalists chosen by Foreign Affairs and Development Committees
22 Oct 2009
Decision of the Conference of Presidents (EP political group leaders) on the winner
14 Dec 2009
Joint meeting of Foreign Affairs and Development Committees and Human Rights Subcomittee with the winner
16 Dec 2009
Official award ceremony at plenary sitting in Strasbourg
Past winners of the Sakharov Prize
1988 - Nelson Mandela, Anatoli Marchenko (awarded posthumously)
1989 - Alexander Dubček
1990 - Aung San Suu Kyi
1991 - Adem Demaçi
1992 - Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo
1993 - Oslobodjenje
1994 - Talisma Nasreen
1995 - Leyla Zana
1996 - Wei Jingsheng
1997 - Salima Ghezali
1998 - Ibrahim Rugova
1999 - Xanana Gusmão
2000 - ¡Basta Ya!
2001 - Izzat Ghazzawi, Nurit Peled-Elhanan, Dom Zacarias Kamwenho
2002 - Oswaldo José Payá Sardiñas
2003 - Kofi Annan (UN)
2004 - Zhanna Litvina (Belarusian Association of Journalists)
2005 - Ladies in White, Hauwa Ibrahim, Reporters without Frontiers
2006 - Alexander Milinkevich
2007 - Salih Mahmoud Osman
2008 - Hu Jia