EU activist prize presented
The European Parliament has awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to two Iranian human rights activists, lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and film director Jafar Panahi,
At a ceremony in Strasbourg this morning president of the Parliament Martin Schulz and Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso also dedicated the Nobel Peace Prize to all 500 million EU citizens.
Mr Schulz said it was appropriate the EU citizens shared the prize. "To be a European means to save what we had in the past and to add what we need in the future," he added.
President Schulz also inaugurated a photo exhibition entitled "Out of the abyss: how Europeans built peace together - A Nobel Prize recognising 60 years of making peace in our continent" at in the Bronislaw Geremek Agora in Strasbourg.
The parlaiment was told the Sakharov prize winners are not allowed to leave Iran. Nasrin Sotoudeh is held in Evin Prison in Teheran and is in a serious health condition following her seven-week hunger strike, halted at the beginning of December after a travel ban on her daughter was lifted.
Jafar Panahi six-year prison sentence has not yet been implemented but he is banned from leaving the country and from making films.
The two nominated five representatives to receive the Sakharov Prize on their behalf.
The five representatives are: Dr Shirin Ebadi - Nobel Peace Laureate 2003; Mr Karim Lahidji -Founder of the Iranian Association of Jurists and of The League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran; Ms Solmaz Panahi - daughter of Jafar Panahi Mr Costa-Gavras - film producer and director, President of the Cinémathèque Française;
Mr Serge Toubiana:-film producer, Director General of the Cinémathèque Française.
The Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought has been awarded by the European Parliament every year since 1988 to individuals or organizations that have made an important contribution to the fight for human rights or democracy. It is named after Andrei Sakharov, a soviet scientist and dissident.