Candidates of Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought

Sakharov Prize

On the 23rd of September, the Committee of Development of the European Parliament jointly with the Committee of Foreign Affairs met to discuss who is worthy of receiving the 2014 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. The European Parliament has awarded this prize each year since 1988 “to honour individuals or organisations for their efforts on behalf of human rights and fundamental freedoms” (Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought).

Last year’s Sakharov prize was given to Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani activist fighting for girls’ rights to access the educational system. For this year’s, the presentation of the candidates was done this Wednesday. On October 7th, the vote on the short list of the three candidates will take place, and finally the results will be presented on October 16th in Strasbourg. The World Youth Alliance will be following all this process to support candidates that stand for Human dignity.

During the meeting, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) were trying their upmost to push for their preferred candidates to win the prize by presenting their arguments with strong claims of what makes each the best fit. The names mentioned were mainly from the Middle East, particularly Egypt and Iraq. Countries like Azerbaijan were also promoted; Ukraine was also mentioned in support of the recent demonstrations and serious upheaval in that area. The mention of ISIS and their massacres that caused an obstruction on practicing the Freedom of Religion in the name of “Islam” has shed the light on not only Muslims’ threatened rights, but also Christians’ agony in trying to choose between their religion and their lives.

Additionally, some MEPs asserted that compassion with such massacres is not enough and that action is needed. They also suggested that this could be achieved by providing on-going aid and creating an international coalition with a UN mandate and proclaiming that “liberties cannot be denied”. Also, the idea of “cultural relativism ranging beyond values” was mentioned in order to explain how some might make the mistake of prioritizing human rights over the human dignity, which causes a wrong prescription to a severe issue.

The official candidates nominated by the Committee of Development and the Committee of Foreign Affairs are:

  • EuroMaidan the Ukranian civic pro-European movement. This movement is represented by the journalist Mustafa Nayem, the musician and Eurovision winner Ruslana Lyzhychko, activist Yelyzaveta Schepetylnykova and journalist Tetiana Chornovol. They have received the biggest share of support among the MEPs present at the nomination meeting.
  • Mahmoud Al ‘Asali, a law professor from the University of Mosul who stood up for Christian rights and was killed last July, and Louis Raphael Sako, the Iraqi-born patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, nominated for his defence of religious freedom in the country supported by the European Conservatives and Reformist political group and 67 other MEPs.
  • The rappers Mouad Belghouate (also known as El Haqed, from Morocco) and Ala Yaacoubi (also known as Weld El, from Tunisia) and the Egyptian blogger and political activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, nominated by the European United Left group.
  • CHREDO, Open Doors, Oeuvre d’Orient and Aid to the Church in Need, organisations for the protection of Christian minorities, nominated by Philippe Juvin (European Peoples Party, France) and 60 other MEPs.
  • The Somali-born American activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, defender of women’s rights in Islamic societies, known for her opposition to female genital mutilation, nominated by the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group.
  • Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynaecologist specialised in the treatment of rape victims and founder of the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, in the Democratic Republic Congo, nominated by the Socialist&Democrats and Alliance for Liberals and Democrats for Europe and the MEP Barbara Lochbihler (Greens, Germany).
  • Leyla Yunus, imprisoned Azerbaijani human rights activist and director of the Institute of Peace and Democracy, nominated by the Greens group and MEP Alexander Graf Lambsdorff (ALDE, Germany), MEP Marietje Schaake (ALDE, the Netherlands) and MEP Ramon Tremosa (ALDE, Spain).

The Arab revolutions along, with the different waves that is striking across the world, have entered in a race between themselves to fight for freedom and how it should be attained. However, real freedom is deeply linked to the respect of human dignity. Should them then refrain from striving for that freedom at the expense of human dignity until these freedoms are attained? Who of these candidates stands better for human dignity and freedom? Who do you thinkdeserves it the most?

Keep supporting World Youth Alliance in its constant mission to promote human dignity in Europe. Donate at WYA15 Campaign.