Violence will never silence the truth

European Parliament has decided to award the 2020 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to the democratic opposition in Belarus, represented by the Coordination Council, initiative of brave women and political and civil society figures.

The democratic opposition in Belarus is represented by the Coordination Council, which is an initiative by several brave women, including the main opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Nobel Laureate Svetlana Alexievich, musician and political activist Maryia Kalesnikava, and political activists Volha Kavalkova and Veranika Tsapkala. Included are also prominent political and civil society figures, such as Ales Bialiatski, founder of the Belarusian human rights organisation Viasna and Mikola Statkevich, political prisoner and presidential candidate in the 2010 election.

I am deeply heartened by the appreciation the European Parliament has shown to the Guapinol environmental activists and Berta Cáceres from Honduras, by shortlisting them for this prestigious prize. The human rights community all over the world received with deep sadness and shock the news on 14 October that Arnold Joaquín Morazan had been murdered in Honduras. He was one of the Guapinol community leaders, shortlisted for the Sakharov Prize 2020 with Berta Cáceres, who was similarly murdered in 2016.

The laureate and those shortlisted are at the forefront of the fight for human rights, at a great risk to their safety and well-being. Today, it is time to thank them and to honor them. Simply, we are all safer because of them.

And as the Vice-President responsible for the Sakharov Prize, I promise you this; the European Parliament stands with you.