European Human Rights Award to Figurehead Belarusian Opposition

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Imprisoned Belarusian activist Maria Kolesnikova has won the Vaclav Havel Prize for Human Rights.

 

Kolesnikova, “one of the three female symbols of the opposition in Belarus”, has shown “true courage” in her fight against the oppressive regime in her country, the Council of Europe says.

Kolesnikova cannot receive the prize herself. Earlier this month, she was sentenced to 11 years in prison for her role in the protest movement against President Alexander Lukashenko.

Her life is in serious danger, fears the Council of Europe, which monitors the human rights treaty that some fifty countries in and around Europe have signed. So she was willing to risk her own safety for a cause bigger than herself.

The prize is named after the Czech playwright, human rights fighter and later president Vaclav Havel (1936-2011). The winner will receive 60,000 euros.

Last year the award went to Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain Alhathloul and the year before to Uyghur intellectual Ilham Tohti, who is imprisoned in China.

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