Statement on the 2017 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought
The Conference of Presidents decided today to award the 2017 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to the Democratic Opposition in Venezuela: National Assembly (Julio Borges) and all political prisoners as listed by Foro Penal Venezolano represented by Leopoldo López, Antonio Ledezma, Daniel Ceballos, Yon Goicoechea, Lorent Saleh, Alfredo Ramos and Andrea González.
President Tajani stated:
“The European Parliament is the driving force in defending and championing freedom, democracy and human rights, inside and outside our borders. Today, it is our duty to denounce, once again, the unacceptable situation in Venezuela. The Maduro dictatorship has robbed Venezuelan citizens of their fundamental rights, making the country spiral into an economic, social, institutional and humanitarian crisis. Over the last few years, the living conditions of Venezuelan people have deteriorated greatly, forcing a growing exodus of citizens to flee the country.
We must make our voices heard loudly and clearly against a regime that holds millions of men and women hostage, trampling upon their human dignity on a daily basis. By awarding the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Democratic Opposition in Venezuela, we are reaffirming our unwavering support to the democratically-elected National Assembly of Venezuela. We are also calling for the peaceful transition to democracy that the Venezuelan people are desperately calling for.
This prize not only recognises the Democratic Opposition of Venezuela‘s courageous struggle, the European Parliament also wants to express its proximity to and pay tribute to the Venezuelan people: to all those who have been unjustly jailed for expressing their opinion, to those struggling to survive on a daily basis because of a brutal regime, to those families in mourning because they have lost loved ones in months of uninterrupted protests for freedom.”
The Award Ceremony will take place on 13 December in Strasbourg.
And while today we recognise the struggle for freedom of thought of the Venezuelan people in particular, let me be clear that there are no first or second class struggles for fundamental rights and that this house will continue to be a beacon for all those who are oppressed around the world.