The Sakharov Prize, recognition granted by the European Parliament since 1988, to prominent people around the world for the fight for freedoms and democracy. The award implies the affirmation of a work that goes hand in hand with a cause that develops in a context where the human rights situation is threatened or systematically violated.
The Sakharov Program of the “HRI- for Peace and Freedom” is created with the purpose of cooperating with the winners of the Sakharov Prize, accompanied by their causes and defending all those social leaders recognized by the European Parliament and who are persecuted or imprisoned because of their activism in the defense of human rights, especially in the cases of Oswaldo Payá (Cuba), Oleh Sentsov (Ukraine), Raif Badawi (Saudi Arabia), Nasrin Sotoudeh (Iran), the National Assembly and political prisoners in Venezuela, among others.
Who was Andrei Sakharov?
Andrei Sakharov (1921-1989) was a Russian Scientist who was recognized with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975. The curiosity with his case is that Sakharov was the father of the Soviet Hydrogen Bomb.
Later on, he became concerned of both, the moral and political implications of what the Nuclear Arms race would represent for the overall future of humankind and started a campaign of awareness against the testing of Nuclear Weapons. His campaign succeeded by playing an important role in the signing of the 1963 Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which consisted in the elimination of Nuclear Weapon tests due to the fallout produced.
In 1970 he became a Human Rights activist and a critique of the Soviet Regime because of their denial to fundamental rights. As well, he founded the Committee to defend Human Rights and victims of political trials. Because of his efforts to promote human rights inside a regime dedicated to violating these, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975.
His influence expanded and the Soviet Regime arrested and internally exiled him in 1980 to the city of Gorky (currently Nizhny) which was off limits to foreigners.
He began two hunger strikes in order for his wife to travel abroad to get medical treatment. In-between the hunger strikes, more specifically 1985, the European Parliament established the Sakharov Prize for freedom of Thought.
After Mikhail Gorbachev came to power, both Andrei and his wife Yelena Bonner were freed. Both were allowed to return to Moscow in 1986 and he exercised a political role inside the Congress of People´s Deputies until his death in 1989.