Wednesday, November 23, 2005

16 Dec 2005. European Parliament awards Sakharov Prize. Cuban leader angered

16 Dec 2005. European Parliament awards Sakharov Prize. Cuban leader angered     

STRASBOURG. 16 Dec 2005. The European Parliament presents its prestigious annual Sakharov Prize, recognizing human rights, at its plenary session. The prize will go to a group of Cuban activists, angering Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who share the prize with a Nigerian human rights lawyer and a French organisation dedicated to defending journalists.
The Cuban Damas de Blanco -- Ladies in White -- are a group of wives, mothers and sisters of the imprisoned political opponents of the communist leader. 
In an October 26 statement, the European Parliament, which awards the prize annually, said the group of Cuban women has been protesting peacefully every Sunday since 2004 against the continued detention of their husbands and sons, who are political dissidents in Cuba.  The women wear white as a symbol of peace and the innocence of those imprisoned.
The Cuban leader accused European nations of being "corrupt, immoral, exploitative hypocrites", suggesting they created colonialism and unfair trade, which they "keep in place even today", according to AFP.
It is the second time within three years that MEPs have granted the prize to Cuban activists, after the opposition leader Oswaldo Paya received the award in December 2002.

The official Sahkarov prize ceremony is scheduled for 16 December, and the Cuban women will need government approval to leave the island in order to attend.

The two other 2005 winners of the Sakharov prize are the Paris-based organization Reporters Without Borders, and Hauwa Ibrahim, a leading Nigerian human-rights lawyer.
The 18-year-old award, intended to honour individuals or institutions that have made significant contributions to the cause of human rights, comes with a 50,000 euro prize. Previous winners include: Nelson Mandela (1988) Alexander Dubcek (1989) Aung Saan Suu Kyi (1990) Adam Demaci (1991) The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo (1992) The Sarajevo newspaper Oslobodenje (1993) Taslima Nasreen (1994) Leyla Zana (1995) Wei Jingsheng (1996) Salima Ghezali (1997) Ibrahim Rugova (1998) Xanana Gusmão (1999) Basta Ya! (2000) Nurit Peled-Elhanan, Izzat Ghazzawi, Don Zacarias Kamuenho (2001) Oswaldo José Payá Sardiñas (2002) The United Nations (2003), Belarusian Association of Journalists (2004).
The award comes with $60,341 (50,000 euros) in prize money. UPDATED Nov/05

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