The Who, What, Why, Where and When of the Sakharov prize

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By Catherine Hardy
The Who, What, Why, Where and When of the Sakharov prize

The finalists have been chosen for the prestigious 2016 Sakharov Prize, awarded by the European Parliament.

The assembly’s Foreign Affairs and Development Committees held votes to choose the three nominees on October 11.

The winner will be chosen by the President of the European Parliament and the leaders of the assembly’s political groups on October 27.

The award ceremony will be held in Strasbourg on December 14.

Here is the Euronews who, what, why, where and when of the 2016 Sakharov Prize.

Who has been nominated?

Can Dündar

  • Former editor-in-chief of Turkish newspaper, “Cumhuriyet”
  • Arrested last November
  • Sentenced to five years and ten months in prison for “revealing state secrets”
  • Survived assassination attempt
  • Lives in exile

Mustafa Dzhemilev

  • Former chair of the Crimean Tatar parliament
  • Former Soviet dissident and Ukrainian MP
  • Long-term supporter of human and minority rights
  • Barred from entering Crimea

Nadja Murad Basee and Lamiya Aji Bashar

  • Advocates for Yazidi community and women survivors of sexual enslavement by ISIL
  • Both from Iraqi village taken by ISIL in 2014
  • Among thousands of Yazidi girls and women forced into sexual slavery by militants
  • Murad also campaigns for recognition of the Yazidi genocide

Nelson Mandela, Malala Yousafzai, Cuba’s Ladies in White and Aung San Suu Kyi are among the previous winners of the Sakharov Prize.

Read the full list here

What is the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought?

It is awarded every year by the European Parliament.

It was set up in 1988 to honour individuals and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms.

It honours individuals who combat intolerance, fanaticism and oppression, often falling foul of their own governments as a result.

Nominations can be made by political groups or by at least 40 MEPs getting together.

Based on the nominations, the foreign affairs and development committees of the parliament choose a shortlist of three finalists.

Finally, the Conference of Presidents, made up of the EP President and leaders of the assembly’s political groups, select the winner.

In 2014, the parliament’s GUE/NGL group was forced to withdraw its support for an Egyptian blogger who had advocated “killing all Zionists”.

Why is it called the Sakharov Prize?

In honour of the Russian physicist-turned-rights campaigner Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov (1921-1989).

He came to prominence as the father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb.

However, concerned by the implications of his work for the human race, he sought to raise awareness of the dangers of the nuclear arms race.

His efforts proved partially successful with the signing of the 1963 nuclear test ban treaty.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975 but later exiled to Gorky by the Soviet authorities.

Read more about Andrei Sakharov here

Where will the ceremony take place?

The award ceremony will be held in Strasbourg at a plenary session of the European Parliament.

The award comes with a prize of 50,000 euro.

When will it be held?

December 14.


European Parliament – read more here

EU Reporter – read more here

Euractiv – read more here