Sakharov Prize winner announced

Gabi Zimmer, GUE/NGL President, and Marie-Christine Vergiat, GUE/NGL MEP responsible for our role in the Sakharov Prize comment:

We congratulate Oleg Sentsov for winning this year's Sakharov Prize. All three candidates deserved to win including Nasser Zefzafi and the 11 rescue NGOs in the Mediterranean.

The Left group in the European Parliament nominated Nasser Zefzafi for the award. Zefzafi  is currently serving a 20-year sentence for protests demanding social justice in his home country of Morocco. Leader of the Hirak movement, Zefzafi was among the thousands of young Moroccans that, in 2016, rose up in protest against socio-economic inequality in the Rif region. The protests were triggered by the death of fishmonger Mohsin Fikri who was crushed in a dumpster while the authorities seized his goods.

Moroccan authorities have since lead a violent crackdown, which saw hundreds of protesters, including children, arrested and subjected to torture and ill-treatment. Amnesty International considers Zezafi and others as prisoners of conscience.

The shortlisting of Nasser Zefzafi for the Sakharov Prize sends a strong message in defence of social justice and against the repression of pacifist movements in Morocco and everywhere else. It is also a recognition of the injustice endured by Nasser Zefzafi and many other peace activists of Hirak.

GUE/NGL will continue to stand for the activists in the Rif region, demand their release, support the social movement and condemn their repression.

The three finalists or their representatives will be invited to the December plenary session in Strasbourg when the Sakharov Prize will be awarded. On this occasion, GUE / NGL expects to host Nasser Zefzafi's parents to address the group's MEPs.