Freedom of Thought on Life Support: Nominees for 2016 Sakharov Prize Announced

Written by | Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

The European Parliament has announced the nominees for this year’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, which honors individuals and organizations who have made an exceptional contribution to the fight for human rights across the globe, drawing attention to human rights violations as well as supporting the laureates and their cause. The nominees for this year’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought are:

Can Dündarn the former editor-in-chief of Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, who was arrested last November after his newspaper reported on Turkey’s intelligence service smuggling arms to rebels in Syria. Later, he was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison for “revealing state secrets”, survived an assassination attempt and now lives in exile.

Mustafa Dzhemilev, former chair of Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars People (Tatar parliament), a former Soviet dissident and a Ukrainian MP, has been standing up for human and minority rights for more than half a century. He was six months old when he and his family were deported to central Asia along with all other Crimean Tatars and was only able to come back 45 years later. After Russia had annexed Crimea, Mr Dzhemilev is again not allowed to enter the peninsula.

Nadia Murad Basee and Lamiya Aji Bashar are advocates for the Yazidi community and for women surviving sexual enslavement by Islamic State. They are both from Kocho, one of the villages near Sinjar, Iraq, which was taken over by Islamic State in the summer of 2014, and are among the thousands of Yazidi girls and women abducted by Islamic State militants and forced into sex slavery. Ms Murad is also a promoter for recognition of the Yazidi genocide.

Ilham Tohti, a peaceful advocate of China’s Uyghur minority, is serving a life sentence in prison. He was convicted of charges of separatism for co-founding the website Uyghur Online, designed to promote understanding between Uyghurs and Han Chinese.

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