Cuban dissident wins Sakharov freedom of thought prize

EMF – Today, Guillermo Farinas, a 48-year-old Cuban dissident, was named winner of the European Parliament’s 2010 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Farinas, ‘a doctor of psychology, independent journalist and political dissident’ who has held 23 hunger strikes over the years to protest the Castro regime.

Farinas believes the award to be ‘a prize for all the peaceful opposition on the streets, all the prisoners in jails and all the exiles who have had to leave Cuba because they cannot survive with a regime like Cuba’s,’ he told over telephone from his home in the central Cuban city of Santa Clara.

‘Farinas’ latest hunger strike ended on July 8, after 134 days, as Havana announced the release of 52 political prisoners following mediation by the Catholic Church. Farinas was chosen by the EU assembly’s political leaders, beating two other finalists: Ethiopian opposition leader Birtukan Mideksa and Breaking the Silence, an Israeli NGO that campaigns against the military occupation of the West Bank.

The outcome was in line with expectations, as the winner had been supported by the European People’s Party (EPP), the EU assembly’s largest group, as well as by the smaller European Conservatives and Reformists group (ECR) and 91 other EU lawmakers.The result was announced by the parliament’s president, Jerzy Buzek.

Farinas is due to receive 50,000 euros (70,000 dollars) at a ceremony on December 15 in Strasbourg, France. It remains to be seen, however, whether Cuban authorities will allow him to travel.The dissident said Thursday that he was considering a hunger strike in case Cuban authorities do not allow him to collect the prize.

The EU assembly’s prize, named after Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov, a nuclear physicist who turned to campaigning for democracy and nuclear non-proliferation in the Soviet Union, was instituted in 1988, a year before the scientist’s death.Previous winners include the leader of Czechoslovakia’s Spring of 1968 uprising and former president Alexander Dubcek (1989), Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi (1990), former UN secretary general Kofi Annan (2003) and Russian civil rights NGO Memorial (2009).

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Posted by on October 21, 2010. Filed under NEWS. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.