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Cuba’s Ladies in White finally pick up EU rights prize

Cuba’s Ladies in White movement on Tuesday picked up the European Parliament’s Sakarov Prize that they won in 2005.

They had to wait eight years before they could receive the award in person in Brussels because the Cuban government rejected their previous requests for permission to leave the island.

Dressed in white, they meet every Sunday to pray at the Santa Rita church in Havana.

The movement started life as the “Black Spring” in May 2003. Back then, 75 people including poets, doctors, journalists and activists, were condemned to between 15 and 28 years in prison for allegedly threatening “the security of the State”.

Some of them have been exiled, others have been released because of health issues, but their cases still remain legally active.

The “Ladies in White” movement was a spontaneous political protest, but it also became a way for these women to support each other.

Euronews’ Sara Blanco met one of the group’s co-founders, Berta Soler. Click on the link above to see the full interview.

  • The Sakharov Prize is “intended to honour exceptional individuals who combat intolerance, fanaticism and oppression” and the winners of the prize must “have shown how much courage it takes to defend human rights and freedom of expression.”
  • The award has been created in 1988 by the European Parliament
  • Along with the prize, the winner recieves a monetary award of 50.000€”
  • Nominees are selected by MEPs and a shortlist of three finalists is drafted by the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Development Committee. Later, the Conference of Presidents chooses one Laureate.
  • Andreï Sakharov (1921-1989) was a Soviet nuclear scientist, father of the hydrogen bomb. Worried about the result of his work on mankind’s future, he wanted to curb the nuclear arms race. He played a role in the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty and later founded a committee to defend human rights and victims of political trials in USSR. In 1975 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his efforts.
  • Among the most famous recipients : Nelson Mandela (1988), the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (1992), the United Nations (2003), Reporters Without Borders (2005), Nasrin Sotoudeh (2012)

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