Venezuelan Opposition Receives Sakharov Prize
On Thursday, the European Parliament awarded Europe’s most prestigious human rights award to the democratic opposition in Venezuela. President of the National Assembly, Julio Borges and opposition leaders Antonio Ledezma and Leopoldo Lopez, accepted the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought on behalf of the Venezuelan people.
Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro has been embroiled in various corruption scandals since assuming office in 2013. According to CNN reporters, Patrick Gillespie and Rhonny Zamora, the high crime rates, exploitation of the country’s oil industry, and “jaw-dropping” hyperinflation has Venezuela in a “humanitarian crisis”.
President Maduro’s socialist tendencies have created backlash among opposition forces and among his constituency. Earlier this year, over 120 were killed in protest-related violence during anti-government demonstrations.
President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, awarded the prize to the people of Venezuela, stating they had been deprived of their fundamental freedom. In his address, Mr. Tajani stated: “We cannot remain silent […]We must defend democracy, freedom and human rights".
He went on to justify the European Parliament’s decision and offered the South American country his support, “we have decided to award the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to the democratic opposition, recalling our total support for the National Assembly of Venezuela - a democratically-elected parliament - the only parliament democratically elected”.
Named after Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, the Sakharov Prize was created almost thirty years ago in order to honor those who defend human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Other finalists from this year include a Pakistani, Christian woman on death row for six years, a Guatemalan and a Burundian human rights activist, two pro-Kurdish prisoners in Turkey, and a Swedish-Eritrean playwright who was illegal held in Eritrea.
The Venezuelan winners will also follow last year's winners namely, two Yazidi women who narrowly escaped sexual enslavement by ISIS.