Sakharov Prize 2016: Nominees revealed

European Parliament, 16 September 2016

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European Parliament Journalist Can Dündar and fellow defenders of freedom of thought and expression in Turkey, the Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzemilev, the Yazidi survivors and public advocates Nadia Murad Basee and Lamiya Aji Bashar as well as Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti are this year’s nominees for the Sakharov Prize. The Parliament awards the Sakharov Prize every year to honour exceptional individuals and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms. The laureate is selected in late October.

The nominees for this year’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought are:

Can Dündar

Can Dündarn the former editor-in-chief of Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, was arrested last November after his newspaper reported on Turkey’s intelligence service smuggling arms to rebels in Syria. He was later sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison for “revealing state secrets”, survived an assassination attempt and now lives in exile. He w nominated by Greens/EFA, EFDD and GUE/NGL.

Mustafa Dzhemilev

Mustafa Dzhemilev, former chair of Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars People (Tatar parliament), a former Soviet dissident and a Ukrainian MP, has been standing up for human and minority rights for more than half a century. He was six months old when he and his family were deported to central Asia along with all other Crimean Tatars and was only able to come back 45 years later. Now, after Russia annexed Crimea, the human rights activist is again barred from entering the peninsula. He was nominated by EPP and ECR.

Nadia Murad Basee and Lamiya Aji Bashar

Nadia Murad Basee and Lamiya Aji Bashar. are advocates for the Yazidi community and for women surviving sexual enslavement by Islamic State. They are both from Kocho, one of the villages near Sinjar, Iraq, which was taken over  by Islamic State in the summer of 2014, and are among the thousands of Yazidi girls and women abducted by Islamic State militants and forced into sex slavery. Murad is also a promoter for recognition of the Yazidi genocide. Nadia Murad Basee and Lamiya Aji Bashar were nominated by S&D. Murad Basee was also nominated separately by ALDE.

Ilham Tohti

Ilham Tohti, a peaceful advocate of China’s Uyghur minority,  is serving a life sentence in prison. He was convicted on charges of “separatism” for co-founding the website Uyghur Online, designed to promote understanding between Uyghurs and Han Chinese. He was nominated by MEP Ilhan Kyuchyuk and 42 other MEPs.

The procedure

The candidates will be presented at a joint meeting of the committees dealing with foreign affairs, development and human rights on Thursday 6 October from 8.30 to 10.30 CET. The vote for the shortlist of three finalists will be held during a joint meeting of the foreign affairs and development committee. The Conference of Presidents, made up of the Parliament President and the political group leaders, will announce the winner(s) of the 2016 Sakharov Prize on 27 October.

The Sakharov Prize

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought 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. Last year the prize was awarded to Raif Badawi.

Nominations for the Sakharov Prize can be made by political groups or by at least 40 MEPs. Based on the nominations, the foreign affairs and development committees vote on a shortlist of three finalists. After that the Conference of Presidents, made up of the EP President and the leaders of the political groups, select the winner.

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-room/20160909STO41754/sakharov-prize-2016-nominees-revealed