The European Parliament [official website] on Thursday named Cuban activist Guillermo Farinas [press release] as the recipient of its 2010 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought [official website]. Farinas has undergone multiple hunger strikes in support of political prisoners and to protest conditions in Cuba, and was the publisher of the now-defunct Cubanacan Press, which sought to raise awareness of the former's statuses. Earlier this year, Farinas staged a 135-day hunger strike that helped persuade Cuba to agree to the release of 52 political prisoners [JURIST report] in an arrangement negotiated with the Roman Catholic Church [church website] Five additional prisoners were approved for release [AFP report] upon the announcement of Farinas' nomination. A ceremony to award Farinas the prize is scheduled for December in France.
The Prize was established in 1988 to honor individuals or organizations for their efforts on behalf of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Named after Russian physicist Andrei Sakharov [EP profile], winner of the 1975 Nobel Peace Prize and referred to as the father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb, the award is given to "exceptional individuals or organizations fighting against oppression, intolerance and injustice." Past winners include the Russian human rights group Memorial [advocacy website, in Russian; JURIST report], Hu Jia, Alexander Milinkevich [JURIST reports], former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan [official profile], Nelson Mandela [Nobel Peace Prize profile] and Oswaldo Jose Paya Sardinas [official website, in Spanish], one of Cuba's most prominent dissidents.