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Arab Spring honoured with EP Sakharov Prize

Arab Spring honoured with EP Sakharov Prize
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Honouring peaceful revolution in several Arab nations, in the European Parliament in Strasbourg,

democracy activists Asmaa Mahfouz of Egypt and Ahmed al Sanusi of Libya personally received the institution’s foremost human rights award: the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

Three other laureates could not. Tunisia’s Mohamed Bouazizi, whose setting himself on fire triggered the Arab spring there; Razan Zaitouneh, human rights lawyer from Syria who is hiding from the government; and her compatriot Ali Farzat, renowned political cartoonist, sheltering in Kuwait with broken fingers.

Asmaa Mahfouz is one of the founders of the April 6 Youth Movement. She urged people to rise up and overthrow the discredited Egyptian government.

Mahfouz said: I hope the remnants of the Mubarak regime, represented by the Military Council, will not still enjoy support, as they continue to use the worst methods to abort the Egyptian revolution. They will, however, most certainly fail, because there is a strong, solid generation who are ready for sacrifice in order to accomplish their revolution, and to build a new regime based on the principles of freedom and social justice.”

Ahmed El Sanussi, from Libya, aged 77, has spent more than 30 of his years in prisons, for his opposition to the ousted Gaddafi regime. He made a plea for a new Lybia of fairness and reason.

Sanussi said: “A democratic, constitutional state must be raised, where everyone is equal before the law, where all women may have total freedom, where they can make their voices heard, can vote and be eligible for political office, because they have made many sacrifices.”

Parliament president Jerzy Buzek introduced a video message from Ali Farzat. In August, he received a beating from Syrian government agents, who broke both his hands.

Farzat said: “I asked a friend a few days ago: ‘Aren’t you afraid of being killed at these demonstrations you are in every day?’ And he told me: ‘I know I can be killed any second, of course. But you have no idea how I cherish freedom. This is the first time I hear my own voice.’”

The prize awarded jointly to the five Arab Spring dissidents is named after Soviet-era physicist Andrei Sakharov, honours exceptional individuals and groups who defend human rights and freedom of expression.