- The Sakharov Prize, the European Parliament and human rights worldwide
- Laureates 2012 - 2022
Jafar Panahi - 2012, Iran
Award-winning Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi exposes injustice and repression. He advocates artistic freedom and has condemned the death penalty.
My creation is the result of a personal perception of fact, of life and ontological experiences in my specific society during a lifetime.
Nasrin Sotoudeh - 2012, Iran
Iranian human rights lawyer and activist Nasrin Sotoudeh defends religious minorities, women, minors and protesters against electoral fraud, the death penalty and torture on the part of the regime.
Malala Yousafzai - 2013, Pakistan
Only 11 when she started her fight for the right of girls to education and against Taliban extremism in Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai fought on even after an attempt on her life in 2012.
These children do not want an iPhone, an Xbox, a PlayStation or chocolates: they just want a book and a pen.
Denis Mukwege - 2014, Democratic Republic of Congo
Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege has devoted his life to the rehabilitation of tens of thousands of victims of rape and brutal sexual violence and many more who live under its threat.
Justice should also be placed at the centre of the peace process, and it is necessary to step up the fight to eliminate impunity for the most serious crimes, including crimes of sexual violence.
Raif Badawi - 2015, Saudi Arabia
Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was flogged and jailed for discussing liberal political ideas and religious topics online.
Raif is not a criminal. He is a writer and a free-thinker, that is all. Raif Badawi’s crime is being a free voice in a country that does not accept anything other than a single opinion and a single thought.
Nadia Murad and Lamiya Aji Bashar – 2016, Iraq
Survivors of sexual enslavement by Islamic State (IS), Nadia Murad and Lamiya Aji Bashar became spokespersons for women whose lives have been blighted by sexual violence, and act as advocates for Iraq’s Yazidi community.
I think that I can speak on behalf of the victims. The Sakharov Prize gives me the strength to continue. That is why I have taken the decision to become a voice for the voiceless.
Lamiya Aji Bashar
The democratic opposition in Venezuela - 2017, Venezuela
In 2017, the political opponents of the Venezuelan Government, including the National Assembly and all political prisoners, were awarded the prize for their continuing bravery in the pursuit of freedom and prosperity in Venezuela.
This award gives us more energy to continue fighting for the values and principles of democracy.
Oleg Sentsov - 2018, Ukraine
A Ukrainian filmmaker imprisoned in Russia, Oleg Sentsov is a source of inspiration for those who face oppression, and is a symbol of the struggle for the release of political prisoners held in Russia and around the world.
It is a huge honour, and also a huge responsibility. I accept and take this prize not as a personal honour, but as a prize for all Ukrainian political prisoners who have ever been in Russian prisons, and a prize in honour of all Ukrainian political prisoners who are still there.
Ilham Tohti - 2019, China
Ilham Tohti is an economics professor and an advocate for China’s Uyghur minority, more than a million of whom are detained in internment camps.
Do you see a problem with the way the Chinese Government is treating Uyghur people? If you see a problem, please work towards a solution!
The democratic opposition in Belarus - 2020, Belarus
Led by brave women and other civil society and political figures, the Coordination Council has united the Belarussians fighting for democracy in Europe’s last dictatorship.
Without a free Belarus, Europe is not fully free either. [...] I have only one wish this year. I want every Belarusian who is now in jail or was forced to live in exile to return home.
Alexei Navalny - 2021, Russia
Alexei Navalny is a Russian opposition politician, anti-corruption activist and major political opponent of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
I am just one of those many who fight corruption, because I consider it not only as the cause of poverty and degradation of states, but also as the main threat to human rights. I dedicate my prize to all kinds anti-corruption fighters around the world.
The Ukrainian people - 2022, Ukraine
MEPs have awarded the brave people of Ukraine, represented by their president, elected leaders and civil society, the 2022 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
This award is for those Ukrainians fighting on the ground. For those who have been forced to flee. For those who have lost relatives and friends. For all those who stand up and fight for what they believe in. I know that the brave people of Ukraine will not give up and neither will we.
President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola