[Reprint]Sakharov Prize 2008 awarded to China's Hu Jia

In this picture taken 27 June 2007, outspoken Chinese AIDS and pro-democracy activist Hu Jia wearing the July 1 protest t'shirt in front of the Tiananmen Gate in Beijing, to show his support for the Hong Kong pro-democracy activists and legislators. Photo from Getty Images by AFP/Getty Images

Sakharov Prize 2008 awarded to Hu Jia

Human rights - 23-10-2008 - 11:19

The European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought has been awarded this year to Chinese political activist Hu Jia, EP President Hans-Gert Pöttering announced in Strasbourg today. The prize ceremony will take place in Strasbourg on 17 December.

The decision of Parliament's political group leaders to award the prize to Hu Jia was communicated to the plenary by Mr Pöttering, who said: "By awarding the Sakharov Prize to Hu Jia the European Parliament firmly and resolutely acknowledges the daily struggle for freedom of all Chinese human rights defenders."

Hu Jia is a prominent human rights activist and dissident in the People's Republic of China. He has embraced a wide range of causes, including environmental issues, HIV/AIDS advocacy and a call for an official enquiry into the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. He has also acted as a coordinator of the 'barefoot lawyers movement'.

Having already been arrested several times, he spoke to MEPs in November 2007 from house arrest via conference call during a public meeting of the EP Human Rights Subcommittee on human rights in China in the run-up to the Olympic Games. As a result he was charged by the authorities with "inciting subversion of state power" and sentenced on 3 April 2008 to three-and-a-half years in jail.

Protests against his arrest have come from all over the world. The European Parliament passed a resolution in January 2008 demanding his release. On 8 August 2008 and 6 September 2008, Hu Jia's name appeared alongside other signatories on open letters calling for more attention to be paid to human rights in China.

20th anniversary of Sakharov Prize

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, named in honour of the Soviet physicist and political dissident Andrei Sakharov, has been awarded by the European Parliament every year since 1988 to individuals or organisations who have made an important contribution to the fight for human rights or democracy. To mark the 20th anniversary, a special event to which all previous winners of the prize are being invited will be held in Strasbourg on Tuesday 16 December.

This year's prize certificate will be awarded in Strasbourg the next day, Wednesday 17 December. In addition to the title, the winner receives the sum of €50,000.

Previous winners of the prize

1988 Nelson Mandela and Anatoli Marchenko (posthumously)
1989 Alexander Dubcek
1990 Aung San Suu Kyi
1991 Adem Demaçi
1992 Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo
1993 Oslobodjenje
1994 Taslima Nasreen
1995 Leyla Zana
1996 Wei Jingsheng
1997 Salima Ghezali
1998 Ibrahim Rugova
1999 Xanana Gusmão
2000 ¡Basta Ya!
2001 Izzat Ghazzawi, Nurit Peled-Elhanan and Dom Zacarias Kamwenho
2002 Oswaldo José Payá Sardiñas
2003 UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and all the UN staff
2004 Belarusian Association of Journalists
2005 Ladies in White, Hauwa Ibrahim, Reporters without Frontiers
2006 Alexander Milinkevich
2007 Salih Mahmoud Mohamed Osman

Further information

Text of the Parliament's resolution of 17 January 2008 calling for Hu Jia's release
Press release on hearing at the Human Rights Subcommittee 26 November 2007
Sakharov Prize web site
Rules of the Sakharov Prize

AP: China's Hu wins EU rights prize

外交部发言人秦刚就欧洲议会授予Hu Jia "Sakharov Prize" 答记者问


问:10月23日,欧洲议会宣布授予Hu Jia “Sakharov Prize”。中方对此有何评论?

答:Hu Jia系因犯有煽动颠覆国家政权罪被中国司法机关依法判处徒刑的犯罪分子。欧洲议会某些人打着“维护Human rights”的旗号,授予其“Sakharov Prize”,完全是颠倒是非,充分暴露了他们粗暴干涉中国内部事务和侵犯中国司法主权的政治图谋。我们对此表示强烈不满和坚决反对。事实已经证明,并将继续证明,他们的行径绝不能改变中国社会进步和发展的事实,也蒙蔽不了欧洲各国人民。