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The European Parliament is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Winners gathered in Strasbourg, France for special meetings and discussions about human rights around the world.
Twenty-five years ago, the European Parliament established the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Since then, they’ve granted this prize to a number of dissidents from countries with repressive regimes. Some of these dissidents came to Strasbourg, France this week to talk about the state of human rights in their countries and around the world.
[Elmar Brok, Chairman, European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs]: “You have to help us. You have to give us signs where we could do better, where we should be more concrete, where perhaps our instruments are not good enough.”
For majority of the prize laureates, their human rights efforts continue.
Wei Jingsheng is a human rights and democracy advocate from China. He says the European Parliament should pay close attention to the situation in China, and consider passing a resolution against organ harvesting there by state-run hospitals.
[Wei Jingsheng, Sakharov Prize Winner from China]: “If a resolution is passed, it will urge Chinese Communist Party to seriously stop harvesting organs from prisoners, it will make it do so seriously. I think it would be very useful. Without this kind of resolution, you can’t guarantee that Party will take it seriously. But with this resolution, there’s a much better chance that the Party will feel pressure to take action.”
Chinese activist Hu Jia is also a Sakharov Prize winner. He is currently under surveillance in Beijing and wasn’t able to come to France, but we recently spoke to him over the phone.
[Hu Jia, Sakharov Prize Winner from China]: “As a winner of Sakharov Prize, I hope my friends in the EU Parliament will pay more attention to the violations happening in China—especially to the brutal one-child-policy and organ harvesting. As Chinese citizens, we sincerely hope to get your attention and support.”
Russian Sakharov Prize winners called for urgent actions to stop organ harvesting in China. In a letter to the European Parliament, they wrote:
“We cannot leave without attention the possibility that in China, organs of political prisoners are used for transplantation operations—primarily, the organs of practitioners of Falun Gong, a peaceful movement, which incidentally has no political goals.”
The Sakharov Prize is named after Andrei Sakharov. He was a nuclear physicist from the Soviet Union who fought for freedoms and reform. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975.