Today, the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament announced the brave Belarusian women, led by Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Maria Kalesnikava and Veranika Tsapkala, as their nominees for the 2020 Sakharov Prize.
S&D vice-president in charge of the Sakharov Prize, Kati Piri, said:
“Impressed by the ongoing nationwide peaceful pro-democratic protests taking place in Belarus against the fraudulent 9th of August elections, we are firmly convinced that this year’s Sakharov Prize should honour the brave women of Belarus fighting for freedom and democracy in their country. We are particularly inspired by the three women who spearheaded the grassroots opposition campaign for last month’s presidential elections in an attempt to unseat autocratic dictator Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
“These women are Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, a teacher, human rights activist and the main opposition candidate in the 2020 Belarusian elections; Maria Kalesnikava, a political activist and member of the presidium of the Coordination Council; and Veranika Tsapkala, political activist and representative of her husband, Valery Tsapkala, who was barred from running in the elections.
“The S&Ds firmly stand with the people of Belarus. We condemn the regime’s violent repression of the Belarusian people’s peaceful protests in the strongest terms. Our announcement today, exactly a month after the stolen elections of the 9th of August, is a strong signal of our unequivocal support for their legitimate demands and aspirations for new free and fair elections, democratic governance, fundamental rights, and an end to authoritarian repression on the European continent and across the world.
“The S&Ds call on all other political groups in the European Parliament to unite behind the nomination of the brave Belarusian women for the 2020 Sakharov Prize.”
MEP Isabel Santos, S&D spokesperson on human rights, added:
“These three women are at the frontline of the fight for freedom in Belarus, while remaining an inspiration for their society and human rights activists around the world. They have set aside political differences and embraced a common simple aim: transform their country into a democracy. Now they are all facing repression, being forced to flee the country or being detained.
“Awarding them with the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought would be a great opportunity to recognise and emphasise the importance of their fight for democracy and human rights.”