„The Sakharov Prize should be a wake-up call for the entire world“
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„The Sakharov Prize should be a wake-up call for the entire world“

Foreign Affairs, Development and Human Rights MEPs discussed with the 2017 Sakharov Prize winners, on Monday evening, ahead of the award ceremony scheduled on Wednesday noon.

Representing the Democratic opposition and all political prisoners in Venezuela, the 2017 Sakharov Prize laureates, Antonio Ledezma, mayor of Caracas, and Leopoldo López, father of Leopoldo López, thanked MEPs for their support and for granting them the European Parliament prize for freedom of thought. „This award should be a wake-up call for the entire world and the European Union to show how important it is to step in to save a country which is suffering“, said Leopoldo López.

Several MEPs underlined that the award should be a “clear incentive for Venezuela to come back on the democratic path”. Others said that it is the sign that the European Union stands against autoritarism.

2017 finalist Aura Lolita Chavez Ixcaquic, human rights defender from Guatemala, and Bethlehem Isaak, representing her father Dawit Isaak, Swedish-Eritrean journalist, also finalist this year, took the floor to raise awareness on their daily struggle for fundamental rights.

You can watch the whole meeting through webstreaming and some extracts here.

The Sakharov Prize award ceremony will take place on Wednesday 13 December at noon. It can be followed live both on Parliament’s website and Facebook page. The ceremony in the plenary chamber will be followed by a press conference and a Facebook live interview with representatives of Venezuela’s democratic opposition at 16.00 CET.

Background information

On 26 October, Parliament’s President Antonio Tajani announced that the 2017 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought would be awarded to Venezuela’s democratic opposition. This followed a decision by the President and Parliament’s political group leaders. The democratic opposition includes the country’s national assembly (represented by Julio Borges) and all political prisoners as listed by Foro Penal Venezolano (represented by Leopoldo López, Antonio Ledezma, Daniel Ceballos, Yon Goicoechea, Lorent Saleh, Alfredo Ramos and Andrea González).