The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, commonly known as the Sakharov Prize, is an honourary award for individuals or groups who have dedicated their lives to the defense of human rights and freedom of thought. Named after Russian scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, the prize was established in December 1988 by the European Parliament. 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. 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. The prize includes a monetary award of €50,000.
|Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought|
|Presented by||European Parliament|
|First awarded||December 1988|
|Currently held by||Democratic opposition in Belarus|
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. 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.
Razan Zaitouneh (2011) was kidnapped in 2013 and is still missing. Nasrin Sotoudeh (2012) was released from prison in September 2013, but is still barred from leaving Iran, along with fellow 2012 laureate Jafar Panahi. The 2017 prize was awarded to the Democratic Opposition in Venezuela, under boycott of the European United Left–Nordic Green Left.
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.
|Indicates a posthumous award|
|1988||Nelson Mandela||South Africa||Anti-apartheid activist and later President of South Africa|
|Anatoly Marchenko||Soviet Union||Soviet dissident, author and human rights activist|
|1989||Alexander Dubček||Czechoslovakia||Slovak politician, attempted to reform the communist regime during the Prague Spring|
|1990||Aung San Suu Kyi||Burma||Opposition politician and a former General Secretary of the National League for Democracy|
|Adem Demaçi||Yugoslavia||Kosovo Albanian Politician and long-term political prisoner|
|1992||Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo||Argentina||Association of Argentine mothers whose children disappeared during the Dirty War|
|1993||Oslobođenje||Bosnia and Herzegovina||Popular newspaper that defended Bosnia and Herzegovina as a multi-ethnic state|
|1994||Taslima Nasrin||Bangladesh||Ex-doctor, feminist author|
|1995||Leyla Zana||Turkey||Politician of Kurdish descent from Southeastern Turkey, who was imprisoned for 15 years for being member of PKK.|
|1996||Wei Jingsheng||China||An activist in the Chinese democracy movement|
|1997||Salima Ghezali||Algeria||Journalist and writer, an activist of women's rights, human rights and democracy in Algeria|
|1998||Ibrahim Rugova||FR Yugoslavia||Kosovo Albanian politician, the first President of Kosovo|
|1999||Xanana Gusmão||East Timor||Former militant who was the first President of East Timor|
|¡Basta Ya!||Spain||Organisation uniting individuals of various political positions against terrorism|
|2001||Nurit Peled-Elhanan||Israel||Peace activist|
|Izzat Ghazzawi||Palestine||Writer, professor|
|Dom Zacarias Kamwenho||Angola||Archbishop and peace activist|
|Oswaldo Payá||Cuba||Political activist and dissident|
|2003||Kofi Annan||Ghana||Nobel Peace Prize recipient and seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations|
|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"|
|2005||Ladies in White||Cuba||Opposition movement, relatives of jailed dissidents|
|Reporters Without Borders||N/A (International)||France-based non-governmental organisation advocating freedom of the press|
|Hauwa Ibrahim||Nigeria||Human rights lawyer|
|2006||Alaksandar Milinkievič||Belarus||Politician chosen by United Democratic Forces of Belarus as the joint candidate of the opposition in the presidential elections of 2006|
|2007||Salih Mahmoud Osman||Sudan||Human rights lawyer|
|2008||Hu Jia||China||Activist and dissident|
|2009||Memorial||Russia||International civil rights and historical society|
|2010||Guillermo Fariñas||Cuba||Doctor, journalist and political dissident|
|2011||Asmaa Mahfouz||Egypt||Five representatives of the Arab people, in recognition and support of their drive for freedom and human rights.|
|2012||Jafar Panahi||Iran||Iranian activists, Sotoudeh is a lawyer and Panahi is a film director.|
|2013||Malala Yousafzai||Pakistan||Campaigner for women's rights and education|
|2014||Denis Mukwege||Democratic Republic of the Congo||Gynecologist treating victims of gang rape|
|2015||Raif Badawi||Saudi Arabia||Saudi Arabian writer and activist and the creator of the website Free Saudi Liberals|
|2016||Nadia Murad Basee||Iraq||Yazidi human rights activists and former abductees of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant|
|Lamiya Aji Bashar|
|2017||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, Yon Goicoechea, Lorent Saleh, Alfredo Ramos 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".|
|2018||Oleg Sentsov||Ukraine||Film director, symbol of the struggle for the release of political prisoners held in Russia and around the world|
|2019||Ilham Tohti||China||Uyghur economist, scholar and human rights activist|
|2020||Democratic opposition in Belarus||Belarus||Coordination Council, initiative of brave women and political and civil society figures.|
- The laureates were advocates of the Arab Spring
- Badawi founded and ran two online formus for discussions on religion and politics in his conservative country, namely Saudi Liberals and Free Saudi Liberals
- 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
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