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Award of the Sakharov Prize to Guillermo Fariñas

Published on October 25, 2010
Statement by Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs

Paris, October 21, 2010

I applaud the European Parliament’s decision to award Guillermo Fariñas this year’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

This is a well deserved tribute to the action and personal courage of Guillermo Fariñas who unhesitatingly risked his life by going on hunger strike several times to secure the release of sick dissidents. His most recent hunger strike, lasting 135 days and during which France had expressed her concern, ended on 8 July 2010.

Since then, the Cuban authorities have pledged to release all the dissidents from the “group of 75”, under the agreement concluded with the Church. Through this process, launched particularly thanks to the perseverance of the Spanish Foreign Ministry and especially my friend Miguel Angel Moratinos, 39 dissidents have gone to Spain accompanied by many members of their families. The process is continuing and has recently been broadened to include other political prisoners. This is a significant development whose progress France is following closely.

In paying tribute to Guillermo Fariñas, I express the wish that the Cuban authorities maintain the positive trend of the past few months and release all the political prisoners.

I very much hope that this Sakharov Prize contributes to highlighting the work of human rights defenders and protecting them better, in Cuba and throughout the world. More than ever, France stands at their side as they carry out their essential mission./.

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