Belarusian Opposition Receives 2020 Sakharov Prize

Award ceremony for the 2020 Sakharov Prize. Photo: European Parliament
Award ceremony for the 2020 Sakharov Prize. Photo: European Parliament

Belarus has been in the midst of a political crisis since the disputed presidential elections on 9 August.

By RMN News Service

European Parliament President David Sassoli presented the 2020 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and Veranika Tsapkala in Brussels today (16 December).

They received the Sakharov Prize on behalf of the democratic opposition in Belarus, represented by the Coordination Council, an initiative of brave women and political and civil society figures.

During the ceremony, exceptionally held in Brussels, President Sassoli said: “The whole world is aware of what is happening in your country. We see your courage. We see the courage of women. We see your suffering. We see the unspeakable abuses. We see the violence. Your aspiration and determination to live in a democratic country inspires us.”

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

Accepting the prize, the main opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said: “Each and every Belarusian who takes part in the peaceful protest against violence and lawlessness is a hero. Each of them is an example of courage, compassion, and dignity.”

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is awarded each year by the European Parliament. It was set up in 1988 to honor individuals and organizations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is named in honor of Soviet physicist and political dissident Andrei Sakharov and the prize money is 50 000 euros.

Last year, the prize was given to Ilham Tohti, an Uyghur economist fighting for the rights of China’s Uyghur minority.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament has decided to organize a fact-finding mission about Belarus on 18- 21 December to determine further support for the democratic opposition, in line with a resolution adopted on 26 November 2020.

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Rakesh Raman