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SAKHAROV: Congo doctor Mukwege wins EU human rights prize.

Denis Mukwege is the laureate of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought 2014, following today's decision by EP President Martin Schulz and the political group leaders. Mukwege will be invited to Strasbourg on 26 November to receive the award during the plenary session.

The e1/450,000 award was established by European Parliament in 1988 in honour of the Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov. Previous winners include Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary general. Last year the prize was awarded to Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani campaigner for girls' education and one of the recipients of this year's Nobel Peace Prize, for which Dr. Mukwege was a front-runner.

Announcing Mukwege as the 2014 laureate, President Schulz said: "The Conference of Presidents decided unanimously to award Dr Denis Mukwege from Democratic Republic of Congo the Sakharov Prize for his fight for protection especially of women." Mr Schulz said it wasn't a decision against Euromaidan and paid tribute to the other finalists, saying the representatives of Euromaidan will be invited to join the award ceremony in November and that the Parliament will immediately send a delegation with representatives from all political groups to Azerbaijan to meet and to support Leyla Yunus in her fight for democracy and freedom in her country.

In many armed conflicts around the world, rape is used as a weapon of war, but Mukwege decided to help victims in his country. The 59-year-old gynaecologist founded the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu in 1998, when a war took place in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where today he still treats victims of sexual violence who have sustained serious injuries.

The war in DRC might be officially over, but the armed conflict still continues in the eastern part of the country and so do attacks against civilians, including gang rapes. Despite travelling regularly abroad to advocate women's rights and managing Panzi Hospital, Mukwege continues to see patients and perform surgery two days a week. He was nominated by the S&D and ALDE groups and MEP Barbara Lochbihler.

The European Parliament takes all human rights violations seriously, no matter where they take place. MEPs regularly highlight abuses, help monitor elections around the world, ensure that human rights are protected in the EU's external economic and trade agreements, and award the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought every year.

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Publication:Financial Mirror (Cyprus)
Date:Oct 22, 2014
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