Marie-Christine Vergiat, GUE/NGL MEP coordinator for the Sakharov Prize:

We express our regret over the European Parliament’s decision to award this year’s Sakharov Prize to the so-called ‘Venezuelan opposition’ given their participation in the country’s recent elections*. By bestowing this honour upon them, it not only undermines any chances for dialogue but also for peace to prevail in any democracy. Human rights are too serious an issue and should not be instrumentalised by Parliament.

Amongst this disparate group of opposition representatives are members of the Venezuelan far-right who have no interest in restoring democracy to the Bolivarian Republic. They also harbour ambitions of reviving some of the darkest chapters in Latin American history.

Furthermore, such a highly politicised nomination has deprived other noteworthy nominees from highlighting their courageous struggles. Swedish-Eritrean journalist, Dawit Isaak is a symbol of the fight against the most serious violations of freedom of expression, and Lolita Chavez is an iconic environmental rights activist renowned for taking her fight to many parts of the world, especially Latin America.

GUE/NGL deeply regrets that the 2017 Sakharov Prize has been weaponised in such a way. The group will be boycotting the awards ceremony in protest and once again, we call for future decisions on the awarding of this Prize to be voted in plenary by all MEPs.

* The opposition participated in regional elections on October 15th. The Government won 18 out of 23 regions, and the opposition won 5 regions. All the opposition parties that participated in this elections recognised the results.

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