Nine nominations for Sakharov Prize 2010

The European Parliament has tabled nine nominations for the 2010 Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought have been tabled. The nominees are the "Access" movement, Haytham Al-Maleh, Israeli NGO "Breaking the Silence", Guillermo Fariñas, Aminatou Haidar, Dawit Isaak, Birtukan Mideksa, Father Thadeus (Nguyën Van Ly) and the Christian mission "Open Doors".

The list of nine nominees unveiled by the European Parliament for 2010 Sakharov Prize is still provisional, as their admissibility still needs to be verified. These nominations will be presented on 5 October at a joint meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Development committees and the Human Rights Subcommittee, followed on 18 October by a vote to determine the three finalists. The overall winner will be decided by the Parliament Conference of Presidents on 21 October in Strasbourg, and invited to attend the award ceremony on 15 December, also in Strasbourg.

  1. "Access": "Access" is a citizens' movement that helps human rights defenders to protect themselves and their communications on line. It also provides technological help to enable access to information despite censorship by repressive regimes.
  2. Mr Haytham Al-Maleh: Mr Al-Maleh is a prominent Syrian human rights lawyer and activist who was sentenced to three years' imprisonment on 4 July 2010. Trial monitoring missions organised by international civil society organisations reported that Al-Maleh's trial failed to meet with international standards of fair trial.
  3. Breaking the Silence: This Israeli NGO was established by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers and veterans who collect and provide testimonies about their military service in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem during the Second Intifada. It gives serving and discharged Israeli personnel and reservists a platform to describe confidentially their experiences in the Israeli-occupied territories.
  4. Mr Guillermo Fariñas: A Cuban doctor of psychology, independent journalist and political dissident, Mr Fariñas has conducted 23 hunger strikes over the years to protest against the Cuban regime.
  5. Ms Aminatou Haidar: Ms Haidar is a Sahrawi human rights advocate and political activist for the independence of Western Sahara. She is sometimes called the "Sahrawi Gandhi" for her non-violent protests, including hunger strikes, in the support of the independence of Western Sahara.
  6. Mr Dawit Isaak: An Eritrean journalist with Swedish citizenship, Mr Isaak has been a political prisoner since 2001, held in very harsh prison conditions. The European Parliament has several times called for his immediate release.
  7. Ms Birtukan Mideksa: Ms Mideksa, an Ethiopian politician and former judge, is the leader of the opposition Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ) party. On December 28 2008, she was sentenced to life imprisonment. She openly admitted to continuing her "peaceful struggle for more democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law" in Ethiopia.
  8. Father Thadeus, Nguyën Van Ly: Father Thadeus is a Vietnamese priest and leading human rights activist, who uses only non-violent struggle to promote universal human rights.
  9. Open doors: Open doors is a non-denominational Christian mission supporting Christians persecuted in places where they form a religious minority. It is currently active in more than 45 countries.

The spirit of the renowned physicist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov is the inspiration for the European Parliament annual Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. It honours individuals or organisations for their efforts on human rights and fundamental freedoms and against oppression and injustice. In 2009, the Sakharov Prize 2009 was awarded to Memorial, an organisation led by  Andrei Sakharov himself, dedicated to defend human rights in the ancient Soviet block countries.