The opposition movement in Belarus in Poland are among those nominated for a prestigious human rights award. They are three of five nominations for the Sakharov Prize, which is awarded each year by the European Parliament.
The prize which was first inaugurated in 1988, honour people or groups around the globe who defend human rights. For a nomination to be valid it must come from a political group in the European Parliament or at least 40 MEPs. The EPP, S&D and Renew Europe nominated a broad alliance of people involved, including the five women of the Coordination Council (Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya; Svetlana Alexievich; Maria Kolesnikova; Volha Kavalkova and Veranika Tsapkala) and those behind the Viasna Human Rights Centre and the NEXTA Telegram channel.
Polish LGBTI activists Jakub Gawron, Paulina Pajak, Pawel Preneta and Kamil Maczuga were nominated by over 40 MEPS for founding the Atlas for Hate website. Berta Caceres, a Honduran ecologist and prominent land activist assassinated in March 2016, was nominated by green MEPs. For over two decades, she fought against land grabbing, illegal logging and mega-projects. Also included on the nomination were Guapinol environmental activists imprisoned for peacefully protesting against a mining company whose activities had led to the contamination of rivers were nominated. The final nomination is Najeeb Moussa Michaeel, the Archbishop of Mosul in Iraq.
The 2019 Sakharov Prize was awarded to Ilham Tohti, a renowned Uyghur human rights defender, and economics professor. The prize is named after the Soviet scientist, unorthodox and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov. It’s awarded to those who, like Sakharov, have dedicated their lives to the defence of human rights.