The European Parliament has announced the finalists for the 2020 Sakharov Prize. They are democratic opposition in Belarus, Guapinol activists and Berta Cáceres, and the Archbishop of Mosul.
The democratic opposition in Belarus is represented by the Coordination Council, initiative of brave women (main opposition candidate Sviatlana 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 Siarhei Tsikhanouski, Ales Bialiatski, founder of the Belarusian human rights organisation Viasna, Siarhei Dyleuski, Stsiapan Putsila, founder of the Telegram channel NEXTA, and Mikola Statkevich, political prisoner and presidential candidate in the 2010 election).
Porfirio Sorto Cedillo, José Avelino Cedillo, Orbin Naún Hernández, Kevin Alejandro Romero, Arnold Javier Aleman, Ever Alexander Cedillo, Daniel Marquez and Jeremías Martínez Díaz are members of the Municipal Committee in Defence of Common and Public Goods of Tocoa. They are imprisoned for their participation in a peaceful protest against a mining company, whose activities had led to the contamination of the rivers Guapinol and San Pedro. While other inmates were set free, the Guapinol defenders are still detained and the prosecution has not presented any solid evidence to justify this prolonged detention.
Assassinated in March 2016, Berta Cáceres was an activist from the indigenous Lenka community in Honduras who co-founded the Council of Indigenous People of Honduras (COPINH). Over more than two decades, she fought against land grabbing, illegal logging and mega-projects.
Monsignor Najeeb Michaeel, since being elected as Archbishop of Mosul, ensured the evacuation of Christians, Syriacs and Chaldeans to Iraqi Kurdistan and safeguarded more than 800 historic manuscripts dating from the 13th to the 19th century. These manuscripts were later digitised and exhibited in France and Italy.
The Conference of Presidents, which consists of Parliament President David Sassoli and the political group leaders, will select the laureate on 22 October. The prize will be awarded in a ceremony at the Parliament on 16 December.
The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, commonly known as the Sakharov Prize, honours individuals and groups of people who have dedicated their lives to the defence of human rights and freedom of thought. Named after Russian scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, the prize was established in December 1988 by the European Parliament. A shortlist of nominees is drawn up annually by the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs and Committee on Development.
Last year, the prize was given to Ilham Tohti, an Uyghur economist fighting for the rights of China’s Uyghur minority.