The democratic opposition in Belarus has been awarded the 2020 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
On Thursday, European Parliament President David Sassoli announced the laureates, following an earlier decision by the Conference of Presidents.
According to the EP, this year’s prize holder, i.e. the democratic opposition in Belarus, is represented by the Coordination Council, initiative of brave women (main opposition candidate Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Nobel Laureate Svetlana Alexievich, musician and political activist Maryia Kalesnikava, and political activists Volha Kavalkova and Veranika Tsapkala), as well as political and civil society figures (video blogger and political prisoner Syarhei Tsikhanouski, Ales Byalyatski, founder of the Belarusian human rights organisation Viasna, strike movement activist Syarhei Dyleuski, popular vlogger Stsyapan Putsila (NEXTA), and Mikola Statkevich, political prisoner and presidential candidate in the 2010 election).
“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,” Sassoli said.
The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is awarded every year by the European Parliament. It was established in 1988 to honour individuals and organizations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Each nominee must have the support of at least 40 MEPs, and each individual Member may support only one nominee. Signed nominations accompanied by supporting evidence are then assessed in a joint meeting of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET), the Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI) and the Committee on Development (DEVE). A shortlist of three candidates is drawn up through a vote by AFET and DEVE committees, and then submitted to the Conference of Presidents for a final vote.
The award ceremony is to take place in Strasbourg on December, 16.