Opposition in Belarus awarded EU’s Sakharov Prize

Opposition in Belarus awarded EU's Sakharov Prize

The European Union’s 2020 Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought has been awarded to the opposition in Belarus and its leader, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, for facing up to the Lukashenko regime.

Belarus has been in the midst of a political crisis since the disputed presidential elections on 9 August, which led to an uprising against President Alexander Lukashenko and a subsequent brutal crackdown on demonstrators by the regime.

The Sakharov Prize is awarded each year by the European Parliament. It was set up in 1988 to honour individuals and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is named in honour of Soviet physicist and political dissident Andrei Sakharov. The prize money is €50,000.

European Parliament President David Sassoli said: “Let me congratulate the representatives of the Belarusian opposition for their courage, resilience and determination.

“They have stood and still stay strong in the face of a much stronger adversary. But they have on their side something that brute force can never defeat - and this is the truth. So my message for you, dear laureates, is to stay strong and not to give up on your fight. Know that we are by your side”, President Sassoli said, following the decision.

“I would also like to add a word on the recent killing of one of this year’s finalists, Mr Arnold Joaquín Morazán Erazo, part of the Guapinol environmental group. The group is opposing an iron oxide mine in Honduras. It is imperative that a credible, independent and immediate investigation is launched into this case and those responsible must be held to account.”

The Sakharov award ceremony will be held on 16 December.

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