This year’s winner of the Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought, given by the European Parliament, is to be announced this Thursday.
Three candidates are on the shortlist. One is the Russian organisation Memorial. The prize’s namesake, Soviet dissident physicist Andrei Sakharov, was its first leader. Its members today fight human rights abuses in post-Soviet states. Then there is Dawit Isaak, a Swedish-Eritrean playwright, journalist and writer, who has been held as a political prisoner in Eritrea since 2001, without trial. Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, a Palestinian gynaecologist who lost three daughters in the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, continues to work for peace between the two peoples. The parliament’s political group leaders decide on the winner. This year’s award coincides with the twentieth commemoration of Sakharov’s death. First father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb, he became one of the regime’s most courageous critics.