Markus Löning, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, today (21 October) issued the following statement on the European Parliament’s decision to award Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas this year’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought:
“I offer Mr Fariñas warmest congratulations on winning this year’s Sakharov Prize. With his hunger strike he risked his life to achieve the release of critically ill political prisoners in Cuba. I hope Mr Fariñas will be able to go to Strasbourg to accept the award in person.The Cuban Government remains called upon to release all those in detention for standing up for democracy and human rights and at last to hold free elections.”
Guillermo Fariñas ended his 135-day hunger strike in July 2010 following publication of the names of the first five of the 52 political prisoners in Cuba whose pending release had been announced.Since February he had refused both food and liquids in an effort to secure the release of 52 critically ill political prisoners and in protest against the death of another, Orlando Zapata Tamayo.
The Sakharov Prize, named after the Soviet physicist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, has been awarded annually since 1988 by the European Parliament to individuals or organizations that have made a significant contribution to the fight for human rights, democracy and freedom of thought.