Imprisoned Belarusian opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova, 39, has won the prestigious Václav Havel Prize of the Council of Europe. The President of the Parliamentary Assembly, former Open Vld Minister Rick Dimes, hailed her as a symbol of courage during Monday’s awards ceremony in Strasbourg.
Kolesnikova’s imprisoned sister accepted the award and said that her sister might dedicate the award to the Belarusian people. Kolesnikova was announced earlier this month He was sentenced to eleven years in prison For her role in the protest movement against President Alexander Lukashenko.
The Václav Havel Prize has been awarded by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe since 2013 in recognition of commitment to human rights. The prize winner will receive 60,000 euros. It is named after the late human rights activist and former president of the Czech Republic Vaclav Havel. The award is usually awarded during the fall session of the Parliamentary Assembly.
In addition to Kolesnikova, the NGO Reporters Without Borders and human rights activist German Rokoki from Burundi have been nominated for this year’s Václav Havel Prize. Last year, the award went to Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain Al-Hathloul, and the previous year it went to Uyghur intellectual Ilham Tohti, who is imprisoned in China.
The Parliamentary Assembly brings together members of the 47 countries of the Council of Europe – Belarus is not among them – four times a year. The Council of Europe, based in Strasbourg, monitors human rights in its member states and is not an EU body.
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