The three finalists are shown above
The European Union today awarded its 2010 Sakharov human rights prize to Cuban hunger striker Guillermo Fariñas.
Past recipients include South African Nelson Mandela and Burmese opposition leader Aung San Sun Kyi.
Fariñas was one of three finalists this year. The other two are Ethiopian politician Birtukan Mideksa and an Israeli NGO called Breaking the Silence. The award includes a monetary prize of 50,000 Euros, or $70,105 U.S.
Other past winners include Cuban human rights activist Oswaldo Paya in 2002 and the Ladies in White group in 2005.
The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, named after Soviet scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, was established in December 1988 by the European Parliament as a means to honor individuals or organizations who had dedicated their lives to the defense of human rights and freedoms.The list of winners since 1988 is here and the official web page for the award here.
The Sakharov Prize is awarded annually on or around 10 December, the day on which the United Nations General Assembly ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, also celebrated as Human Rights Day.
Frank Calzon, head of the Center for a Free Cuba, believes that the selection of a third Cuban individual or group as this year's recipient "indicates the growing concern among European leaders about the Cuban situation."
Next week the European Union is supposed to look again into the Common Position on Cuba , and it is not certain, now that Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos has been replaced, how vigorously Spain will insist on the lifting of European sanctions against the regime.
A few days ago, friends of the Center in Central European capitals told us that unless something significant happens in Havana , they do not expect the Common Position to be changed. In a sense the Europeans are saying, just as President Obama did earlier this week, that the changes announced in Havana are not significant enough to merit a change of European or American policy toward the island.
Ironically, statements made by Cuban political prisoners recently released who have travelled to Brussels and other European capitals have made it more difficult for those who would like to lift the sanctions to achieve their goal. Europeans were shocked to learn that the prisoners were released on the condition that they would go immediately into exile in Spain . Their relatives, including children had their passports stamped indicating they are expelled from Cuba “indefinitely.”