Sakharov Prize

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Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought
Remise du Prix Sakharov à Aung San Suu Kyi Strasbourg 22 octobre 2013-21.jpg
The awarding ceremony of the 1990 prize awarded to Aung San Suu Kyi inside the Parliament's Strasbourg hemicycle, in 2013
Presented byEuropean Parliament
First awardedDecember 1988; 33 years ago (1988-12)
Currently held byAlexei Navalny
WebsiteOfficial website

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, commonly known as the Sakharov Prize, is an honorary award for individuals or groups who have dedicated their lives to the defence of human rights and freedom of thought.[1] Named after Russian scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, the prize was established in December 1988 by the European Parliament.[1]

A shortlist of nominees is drawn up annually by the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs and Committee on Development. The MEPs who make up those committees then select a shortlist in September.[2] Thereafter, the final choice is given to The European Parliament's Conference of Presidents (President and political group's leaders) and the laureate's name is announced late in October. The prize is awarded in a ceremony at the Parliament's Strasbourg hemicycle (round chamber) in December.[3][2] The prize includes a monetary award of €50,000.[3]

The first prize was awarded jointly to South African Nelson Mandela and Russian Anatoly Marchenko. The 1990 award was given to Aung San Suu Kyi, but she could not receive it until 2013 as a result of her political imprisonment in Burma.[4] The prize has also been awarded to organisations, the first being the Argentine Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo in 1992. Five Sakharov laureates were subsequently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize: Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, Malala Yousafzai, Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad.[5]

Razan Zaitouneh (2011) was kidnapped in 2013 and is still missing.[6] Nasrin Sotoudeh (2012) was released from prison in September 2013,[7] but is still barred from leaving Iran, along with fellow 2012 laureate Jafar Panahi.[8] The 2017 prize was awarded to the Democratic Opposition in Venezuela, under boycott of the European United Left–Nordic Green Left.[9][10]


Posthumous award Indicates a posthumous award
Year Image Recipient Nationality Notes Reference
1988 Nelson Mandela was the inaugural winner of the prize, together with Anatoly Marchenko Nelson Mandela  South Africa Anti-apartheid activist and later President of South Africa [11]
Marchenko Anatoly Marchenko Posthumous award  Soviet Union Soviet dissident, author and human rights activist [12]
1989 Dubček in 1989 Alexander Dubček  Czechoslovakia Slovak politician, attempted to reform the communist regime during the Prague Spring [11]
1990 Suu Kyi in 2013 Aung San Suu Kyi  Burma At the time she received the award, Suu Kyi was an opposition politician and a former General Secretary of the National League for Democracy, known for her peaceful struggle against military rule in Myanmar. She personally accepted the award in 2013, after she was released from 15 years of house arrest. In 2020, the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament formally suspended Suu Kyi from the Sakharov Prize Community due to her role in the atrocities against the Rohingya people, but did not revoke the prize itself. [13][14][15][16]
Adem Demaçi  Yugoslavia Kosovo Albanian Politician and long-term political prisoner [11]
1992 The white shawl of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, painted on the floor in Buenos Aires, Argentina Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo  Argentina Association of Argentine mothers whose children disappeared during the Dirty War [13]
1993 The Oslobođenje logo, 2019 Oslobođenje  Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina Popular newspaper that defended Bosnia and Herzegovina as a multi-ethnic state [13]
1994 Nasrin in 2013 Taslima Nasrin  Bangladesh Ex-doctor, feminist author [13]
1995 Zana in 2007 Leyla Zana  Turkey Politician of Kurdish descent from Southeastern Turkey, who was imprisoned for 15 years for being a member of PKK [11]
1996 Jingsheng in 2010 Wei Jingsheng  China Activist in the Chinese democracy movement [13]
1997 Ghezali in 2013 Salima Ghezali  Algeria Journalist and writer, activist for women's rights, human rights and democracy in Algeria [13]
1998 Rugova in 2004 Ibrahim Rugova  FR Yugoslavia Kosovo Albanian politician, first President of Kosovo [11]
1999 Gusmão in 2011 Xanana Gusmão  East Timor Former militant, first President of East Timor [17]
¡Basta Ya!  Spain Organisation uniting individuals of various political positions against terrorism [18]
2001 Peled-Elhanan in 2001 Nurit Peled-Elhanan  Israel Peace activist [11]
Izzat Ghazzawi  Palestine Writer, professor
Zacarias Kamwenho in 2013 Dom Zacarias Kamwenho  Angola Archbishop and peace activist
Oswaldo Payá  Cuba Political activist and dissident [19]
2003 Annan in 2012 Kofi Annan  Ghana Nobel Peace Prize recipient and seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations [11]
The UN-flag since its inception in 1946 United Nations N/A (International)
Belarusian Association of Journalists  Belarus Non-governmental organisation "aiming to ensure freedom of speech and rights of receiving and distributing information and promoting professional standards of journalism" [20]
2005 Members of Ladies in White demonstrating in Havana, Cuba, in 2012 Ladies in White  Cuba Opposition movement, relatives of jailed dissidents [21]
The Reporters Without Borders logo since 2012 Reporters Without Borders N/A (International) France-based non-governmental organisation advocating freedom of the press [21]
Ibrahim in 2018 Hauwa Ibrahim  Nigeria Human rights lawyer [21]
2006 Milinkevich in 2009 Alaksandar Milinkievič  Belarus Politician chosen by United Democratic Forces of Belarus as the joint candidate of the opposition in the presidential elections of 2006 [22]
2007 Osman in 2013 Salih Mahmoud Osman  Sudan Human rights lawyer [13]
2008 Hu Jia Hu Jia  China Activist and dissident [23]
2009 Monument commemorating the victims of the political oppression in the USSR: a stone from Solovki concentration camp installed in front of the former KGB headquarters at Lubyanka Square in Moscow on 30 October 1990 Memorial  Russia International civil rights and historical society [24]
2010 Fariñas in 2014 Guillermo Fariñas  Cuba Doctor, journalist, and political dissident [25]
2011[a] Mahfouz in 2011 Asmaa Mahfouz  Egypt Five representatives of the Arab people, in recognition and support of their drive for freedom and human rights [26]
al-Senussi in 2011 Ahmed al-Senussi  Libya
Zaitouneh from an unknown date Razan Zaitouneh  Syria
Ferzat from Michael Netzer's Portraits of the Creators Sketchbook, 2011 Ali Farzat
Mohamed Bouazizi Posthumous award  Tunisia
2012 Panahi in 2007 Jafar Panahi  Iran Iranian activists, Sotoudeh is a lawyer and Panahi is a film director. [27][28]
Sotoudeh in 2012 Nasrin Sotoudeh
2013 Yousafzai in 2019 Malala Yousafzai  Pakistan Campaigner for women's rights and education [29]
2014 Mukwege in 2014 Denis Mukwege  Democratic Republic of the Congo Gynecologist treating victims of gang rape [30]
2015 Badawi in 2012 Raif Badawi  Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabian writer and activist and the creator of the website Free Saudi Liberals [31][b]
2016 Murad in 2016 Nadia Murad  Iraq Yazidi human rights activists and former abductees of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [32]
Aji Bashar in 2017 Lamiya Aji Bashar
2017 Lorent Saleh inaugurated at the Sakharov Walk of Freedom Democratic opposition in Venezuela  Venezuela Members of the country's National Assembly and all political prisoners as listed by Foro Penal Venezolano represented by Leopoldo López, Julio Borges, Antonio Ledezma, Daniel Ceballos [es], Yon Goicoechea, Lorent Saleh, Alfredo Ramos [es] and Andrea González. The award was seen as rewarding the "courage of student activists and protesters in face of repression by Nicolas Maduro's government"[33] and boycotted by the European United Left–Nordic Green Left parliamentary group.[10] [34]
2018 Sentsov in 2018 Oleg Sentsov  Ukraine Film director, symbol of the struggle for the release of political prisoners held in Russia and around the world [35]
2019 Tohti in 2011 Ilham Tohti  China Uyghur economist, scholar and human rights activist [36]
2020 Tsikhanouskaya in 2020 Democratic opposition in Belarus  Belarus Democratic opposition of Belarus represented by the Coordination Council, an initiative of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Svetlana Alexievich, Maria Kalesnikava, Volha Kavalkova and Veranika Tsapkala, and political and civil society figures - Siarhei Tsikhanouski, Ales Bialiatski, Sergei Dylevsky, Stsiapan Putsila and Mikola Statkevich. [37][c][d]
2021 Navalny in 2011 Alexei Navalny  Russia Opposition politician and anti-corruption activist [39]

Table notes[edit]

  1. ^ The laureates were advocates of the Arab Spring
  2. ^ Badawi founded and ran two online forums for discussions on religion and politics in his conservative country, namely Saudi Liberals and Free Saudi Liberals
  3. ^ One of them is Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the human rights activist and politician who participated in the 2020 Belarusian presidential election as the main opposition candidate
  4. ^ Due to infection control measures taken because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of events related to the Sakharov Community were postponed in 2020, including the Sakharov Fellowship, One World in Brussels and the European Youth Event.[38]


  1. ^ a b "1986: Sakharov comes in from the cold". BBC News. 23 December 1986. Archived from the original on 26 December 2010. Retrieved 21 October 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Sakharov Prize 2018: three finalists selected", News—European Parliament, 10 September 2018 Archived 10 May 2019 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ a b "Sakharov Prize". European Parliament. Archived from the original on 15 September 2017. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  4. ^ Cook, Annabel (22 October 2013). "Aung San Suu Kyi collects Sakharov prize 23 years on". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 28 October 2017. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  5. ^ Boshnaq, Mona; Chan, Sewell; Dremeaux, Lillie; Karasz, Palko; Kruhly, Madeleine (6 October 2017). "Nobel Peace Prize Winners Throughout History". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 13 October 2017.
  6. ^ "Razan Zaitouneh". European Parliament. Archived from the original on 28 October 2017. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  7. ^ "Nasrin Sotoudeh". European Parliament. Archived from the original on 28 October 2017. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  8. ^ "Jafar Panahi". Archived from the original on 28 October 2017. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  9. ^ Schreuer, Milan (26 October 2017). "Venezuelan Opposition Receives E.U.'s Sakharov Freedom Prize". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 26 October 2017. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  10. ^ a b "Left to boycott politicised Sakharov Prize ceremony – GUE/NGL – Another Europe is possible". Archived from the original on 1 February 2018. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g "20 years of the Sakharov Prize: Human rights and reconciliation". European Parliament. 28 October 2008. Archived from the original on 12 December 2010. Retrieved 22 October 2010.
  12. ^ "Sakharov Prize at 20: For democracy - against oppression". European Parliament. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g "Sakharov Network calls for immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi, Sakharov Prize laureate 1990". Reporters Without Borders. 15 May 2009. Archived from the original on 16 October 2012. Retrieved 23 October 2010.
  14. ^ Merlin Sugue, EU Parliament suspends Aung San Suu Kyi from Sakharov Prize Community Archived 9 July 2021 at the Wayback Machine, Politico (10 September 2020).
  15. ^ Press release, Aung San Suu Kyi suspended from the Sakharov Prize Community Archived 18 May 2021 at the Wayback Machine, European Parliament (10 September 2020).
  16. ^ Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi suspended from rights prize community Archived 9 July 2021 at the Wayback Machine, Deutsche Welle (10 September 2020).
  17. ^ "Gusmão receives EU Sakharov prize". BBC News. 15 December 1999. Retrieved 21 October 2010.
  18. ^ "Basque group wins peace prize". BBC News. 26 October 2000. Archived from the original on 1 April 2007. Retrieved 21 October 2010.
  19. ^ "Cuban dissident collects EU prize". BBC News. 17 December 2002. Archived from the original on 7 May 2004. Retrieved 21 October 2010.
  20. ^ "The Belarusian Association of Journalists – 2004, Belarus". European Parliament. 9 November 2004. Archived from the original on 18 February 2015. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  21. ^ a b c Gibbs, Stephen (14 December 2005). "Cuba 'bars women from prize trip'". BBC News. Archived from the original on 17 November 2006. Retrieved 21 October 2010.
  22. ^ "Belarussian takes EU rights award". BBC News. 26 October 2006. Retrieved 21 October 2010.
  23. ^ "China dissident wins rights prize". BBC News. 17 December 2008. Archived from the original on 30 December 2008. Retrieved 21 October 2010.
  24. ^ "Russia rights group wins EU prize". BBC News. 22 October 2009. Retrieved 21 October 2010.
  25. ^ "Cuba dissident Farinas awarded Sakharov Prize by EU". BBC News. 21 October 2010. Archived from the original on 22 October 2010. Retrieved 21 October 2010.
  26. ^ "Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought 2011". European Parliament. Archived from the original on 23 October 2011. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
  27. ^ Dehghan, Saeed Kamali (26 October 2012). "Nasrin Sotoudeh and director Jafar Panahi share top human rights prize". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 30 October 2012. Retrieved 26 October 2012.
  28. ^ "Nasrin Sotoudeh and Jafar Panahi – winners of the 2012 Sakharov Prize" (PDF). European Parliament. Archived (PDF) from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 27 October 2012.
  29. ^ Jordan, Carol (10 October 2013). "Malala wins Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought". CNN. Archived from the original on 15 October 2013. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  30. ^ "DR Congo doctor Denis Mukwege wins Sakharov prize". BBC News. 21 October 2014. Archived from the original on 22 October 2014. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  31. ^ "Raif Badawi wins Sakharov human rights prize". The Guardian. Brussels. Associated Press in. Archived from the original on 29 October 2015. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  32. ^ "Sakharov prize: Yazidi women win EU freedom prize". BBC News. 27 October 2016. Archived from the original on 27 October 2016. Retrieved 27 October 2016.
  33. ^ "Venezuela's opposition awarded Sakharov Prize for championing human rights". The Independent. 26 October 2017. Archived from the original on 28 October 2017. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  34. ^ "Parliament awards Sakharov Prize 2017 to Democratic Opposition in Venezuela". European Parliament. 26 October 2017. Archived from the original on 28 October 2017. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  35. ^ "Sakharov Prize 2018 goes to Oleg Sentsov". European Parliament. Archived from the original on 4 March 2021. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  36. ^ "Ilham Tohti awarded the 2019 Sakharov Prize". European Parliament. 24 October 2019. Archived from the original on 30 December 2019. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  37. ^ "The 2020 Sakharov Prize awarded to the democratic opposition in Belarus". 22 October 2020. Archived from the original on 5 February 2021. Retrieved 15 November 2020.
  38. ^ "Sakharov Prize Community Newsletter No. 3" (PDF). European Parliament. 2020. Archived (PDF) from the original on 12 April 2021. Retrieved 12 April 2021.
  39. ^ "Alexei Navalny awarded the European Parliament's 2021 Sakharov Prize". 20 October 2021. Archived from the original on 21 October 2021. Retrieved 20 October 2021.

External links[edit]