Sakharov Prize 2007: five nominees announced

European Parliament, Sep.11, 2007

Malalai Joya in Press Conference in Kabul on May 21

The names of five nominees for this year's European Parliament Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought were unveiled on Tuesday at a joint meeting of the EP's Foreign Affairs Committee, Development Committee and Human Rights Subcommittee. These five names will be narrowed down to a shortlist of three by the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Development Committee at a vote on 24 September. The Conference of Presidents (Parliament's political group leaders) will then pick the winner on 25 October.

The European Parliament's Sakharov Prize - named after Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov - has been awarded each year since 1988 to individuals or organisations who have made an important contribution to the fight for human rights or democracy. The prize will be awarded at a ceremony at Parliament's Strasbourg plenary sitting on 11 December, the day after the 59th anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The winner also receives a sum of €50,000.

Under the Sakharov Prize rules, nominees must be supported by at least 40 Members of the European Parliament or by a political group, each of whom must provide a justification for their choice. The names of this year's candidates are as follows:

- Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Proposed for his work as a defender of freedom of religion in Turkey and promoter of dialogue between religious communities. Nominated by Philip Claeys (BE) on behalf the ITS group.

- Zeng Jinyan and Hu Jia, Chinese human rights defenders. Mrs Zeng Jinyan is a cyber-dissident reporting examples of human rights abuses in China on her daily blog. Her husband, Hu Jia, is an AIDS and environmental activist. Nominated by Monica Frassoni (IT) and Daniel Cohn-Bendit (DE) on behalf of the Greens/EFA Group.

- Malalai Joya, Afghan MP and defender of women's rights in Afghanistan. Ms Joya was suspended in May 2007 as a member of the National Assembly of Afghanistan for exposing warlords present in the Parliament. Nominated by Vittorio Agnoletto (IT), André Brie (DE) and Tobias Pflueger (DE) on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group.

- Salih Mahmoud Osman, Sudanese human rights attorney. Mr Osman works with the Sudan Organisation Against Torture, providing free legal representation for the many victims of Sudan's civil war and human rights abuses. Nominated by Josep Borrell (PES, ES), Thierry Cornillet (ALDE, FR), Jose Ribeiro e Castro (EPP-ED, PT), Frithjof Schmidt (Greens/EFA, DE), Jürgen Schröder (EPP-ED, DE), and 177 others from various political groups; as well as Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck (BE) and Marco Cappato (IT) on behalf of the ALDE Group.

- Anna Politkovskaya (deceased), Russian journalist and human rights activist. Mrs Politkovskaya, who was known for her opposition to the Chechen conflict, was shot dead on 7 October 2006. Nominated by Joseph Daul (FR) on behalf of the EPP-ED Group.

At today's meeting, Edward McMillan-Scott (EPP-ED, UK) paid tribute to former MEP Lord Bethell, who died last Saturday and who was the founder of the Sakharov Prize in 1988.