Sakharov Prize 2010 - 9 nominations 


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Nine nominations for the 2010 Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought have been tabled by EP political groups or groups of over 40 MEPs. The nominees are the "Access" movement, Haytham Al-Maleh, Israeli NGO "Breaking the Silence", Guillermo Fariñas, Aminatou Haidar, Dawit Isaak, Birtukan Mideksa, Father Thadeus (Nguyën Van Ly) and the Christian mission "Open Doors".

Please note that the following alphabetical list of nominations is provisional, as their admissibility still needs to be verified.

"Access" - nominated by the Group of the  Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

"Access" is a citizens' movement that helps human rights defenders to protect themselves and their communications on line. It also provides technological help to enable access to information despite censorship by repressive regimes.

Mr Haytham Al-Maleh - nominated by Heidi Hautala and 44 other MEPs.

Mr Al-Maleh is a prominent Syrian human rights lawyer and activist who was sentenced to three years' imprisonment on 4 July 2010. Trial monitoring missions organised by international civil society organisations reported that Al-Maleh's trial failed to meet with international standards of fair trial.

Breaking the Silence - nominated by the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA) and the Confederal Group of the European United Left - Nordic Green Left (GUE7NGL).

This Israeli NGO was established by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers and veterans who collect and provide testimonies about their military service in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem during the Second Intifada. It gives serving and discharged Israeli personnel and reservists a platform to describe confidentially their experiences in the Israeli-occupied territories.

Mr Guillermo Fariñas - nominated by the Group of the European People's Party (EPP), European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR) and by Edvard Kožušník and 91 other MEPs.

A Cuban doctor of psychology, independent journalist and political dissident, Mr Fariñas has conducted 23 hunger strikes over the years to protest against the Cuban regime.

Ms Aminatou Haidar - nominated by Norbert Neuser, Willy Meyer, Raül Romeva i Rueda and  40 other MEPs.

Ms Haidar is a Sahrawi human rights advocate and political activist for the independence of Western Sahara. She is sometimes called the "Sahrawi Gandhi" for her non-violent protests, including hunger strikes, in the support of the independence of Western Sahara.

Mr Dawit Isaak - nominated by Olle Schmidt, Cecilia Wikström, Marit Paulsen and Lena Ek and 37 other MEPs.

An Eritrean journalist with Swedish citizenship, Mr Isaak has been a political prisoner since 2001, held in very harsh prison conditions. The European Parliament has several times called for his immediate release.

Ms Birtukan Mideksa -  nominated by the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament (S&D).

Ms Mideksa, an Ethiopian politician and former judge, is the leader of the opposition Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ) party. On December 28 2008, she was sentenced to life imprisonment. She openly admitted to continuing her "peaceful struggle for more democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law" in Ethiopia.

Father Thadeus, Nguyën Van Ly - nominated by European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR).

Father Thadeus is a Vietnamese priest and leading human rights activist, who uses only non-violent struggle to promote universal human rights.

Open doors - nominated by European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR).

Open doors is a non-denominational Christian mission supporting Christians persecuted in places where they form a religious minority. It is currently active in more than 45 countries.

Next steps

On 5 October 2010 these nominations will be presented at a joint meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Development committees and the Human Rights Subcommittee, followed on 18 October by a vote to determine the three finalists. The overall winner will be decided by the EP Conference of Presidents on 21 October in Strasbourg, and invited to attend the award ceremony on 15 December, also in Strasbourg.