2007-12-14 Sarah Elzas
Listen to the report >>

This year's Laureate of Sakharov prize

Salih Mahmoud OsmanSalih Mahmoud Osman
Each December, on the day after the International Day of Human Rights – the European Parliament awards its Sakharov prize for freedom of thought. It’s the Parliament’s top human rights award, named after Andrei Sakharov, a Russian physicist who spoke out against nuclear proliferation and worked against human rights abuses in the former Soviet Union. Radio France International’s Sarah Elzas was in Strasbourg this week to meet the 2007 winner.

Salih Mahmoud Osman is a Sudanese lawyer, and this year’s winner of the Sakharov prize, the European Parliament’s top human rights award

“I am a native of Darfur. I have been a victim of detention and torture, because of my work.”

Osman has helped defend victims of human rights abuses in Sudan. He’s been an opposition member of parliament since 2005.

Andrei SakharovAndrei Sakharov
Darfur, where he’s from, is the region in western Sudan where Government-backed militias have been burning villages and killing civilians- in an inter-ethnic conflict that has created a massive humanitarian crisis- with over four million people forced into refugee camps throughout the region.

The European Parliament wanted to give Osman the Sakharov prize to recognize his human rights work—but they also wanted to do it to make a statement about Darfur. José Ribeiro e Castro is an MEP from Portugal, who was part of a delegation that went to the region last summer-

“During the visit what could we do more to help the situation there- and it came to our minds that it would be a good idea to find someone who would be a candidate for the Sakharov prize this year. We regard Salih Mahmud Osman as the spokesperson as the Darfur people, and we want the people to be heard both by the Sudanese government, but also the international community”

In his speech, Osman pointed out that the UN security Council has adopted several resolutions on Darfur that have come to nothing

European ParliamentEuropean Parliament
“Unfortunately none of these has been implemented effectively. The victims feel disappointed. They are waiting to hear from you: from the people of Europe”

Osman wants the EU to send troops to protect civilians- even if the UN security council, or the Sudanese government says no:

“There is the UN charter- chapter 7, makes it imperative- if there is human rights violations members of the UN can individually go and protect the people. The NATO went to Kosovo and there was no UN security council resolution. And it was acceptable- because the idea was to protect the people.”

The President of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pottering said Europe should consider sending troops

“Because what Salih Osman says is very convincing- and we should not only consider this but the leaders of the member states should decide it I’m very much in favour.”

Portuguese MEP José Ribeiro e Castro is more cautious:

“The process to send troops has to follow the proper manners- But we must listen to the words of Salih as an honest shout of despair and anger and indignation”

Osman’s shout of indignation is being amplified now that he received the Sakarov prize. President Pottering explained that it gives Osman exposure, and therefore some protection:

“This gives him moral support- this gives Salih Osman support for his security.”

It also gives him 50 000 euros, which he hopes to use to help victims in Darfur

“I will just continue first of all to struggle- voicing- out on behalf of the victims. Also making advocacy and appeals to the international community to address the situation in Darfur in a better manner”

Salih Mahmoud Osman was one of four people considered for the Sakharov prize-- including Anna Politkovskaya, the Russian journalist who was killed last year:

“I am proud to accept this honour on behalf or the other candidates… and also on behalf of so many Sudanese who believe—as I do—in human dignity and in the pursuit of justice. Thank you”

Listen to the report:

Tags

european parliament, human rights

Share

digg
del.icio.us
facebook
newsvine

Listen

Real Audio

Download

MP3

Podcast

Subscribe

Also in this issue

Protestors demonstrate outside of an EU Africa summit in Lisbon last SaturdayWill last weekend go down in the history books? The landmark summit between the European Union and Africa was supposed to bring the two continents closer together. Some 80 leaders gathered in Lisbon, Portugal to forge closer ties and find new ways to cooperate on areas like poverty, migration and climate change. But disagreements over human rights and trade, sidelined talks of new partnerships. So was it all watered down or will it go down as a watershed in Afro-European relations? Vanessa Mock was our reporter on the spot. >>>

Ilirska Bistrica - Last railway station in Slovenia before the border with CrotiaOne thing Europe is exceptionally good at is expanding. This time in the form of the Schengen border agreement. The EU’s passport-free zone is ballooning and by December 21, nine newcomers will be welcomed into the fold – many of them former communist states. But is everyone jumping for joy? Thijs Papot reports from the border region of Slovenia and Croatia where some neighbours have a greater freedom of movement than others. >>>

Spanish flagOnce you pass through a country’s borders – you might do well to go native and immerse yourself in the local culture – eat the food, cheer on the national sports teams and why not learn the national anthem? Good idea! Unless you’ve moved to Spain that is. Spain is wrapped in controversy at the moment and all because of its anthem. Spain is one of the few countries in the world that does not have lyrics for its national anthem. And now, a six month talent search is coming to an end. About seven thousand Spaniards have responded to a call by the head of the Olympic committee, Alejandro Blanco, to write a verse. Submissions are being carefully examined by a panel of judges before being tested on a children’s choir. Then on December 19th the winner will be unveiled. But as Deutsche Welle’s Danny Wood reports – the whole endeavour is not music to everyone’s ears. >>>

Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore speaks during the Nobel Peace Prize ceremonyNobel fever has been raging. On the 10th – laureates attended the Nobel Prize ceremony at Stockholm’s Concert House and received their medals from Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf – that’s what went on on stage – but what about behind the scenes? As the laureates arrived in the Swedish capital, Radio Sweden’s Jasna Carlén talked to Annika Pontikis of the Nobel Foundation about the events that awaited the year’s greatest minds and their families during Nobel Week. >>>

If you want to be treated like royalty – you might consider a trip to Krakow. A new tram service has begun running there, but it’s not a line for regular commuters. The most important question on that route is – do you take sugar with yours? It’s a café tram – a new way to see Kraków from renovated comfort complete with all the mod-cons. Tea or coffee, the choice is yours and an espresso was the choice of John Beauchamp on a trip outside Polish Radio’s studios. >>>

Latest Programme
The Programme About Us
Programme Archive RSS and Podcasting
Contact Us
PARTNER STATIONS
Deutsche Welle Deutsche Welle Polish Radio External Service Polish Radio External Service Radio Bulgaria Radio Bulgaria Radio France International Radio France International Radio Netherlands Radio Netherlands Worldwide Radio Prague Radio Prague Radio Romania International Radio Romania International Radio Slovakia International Radio Slovakia International Radio Slovenia International Radio Slovenia International Radio Sweden Radio Sweden