October 23, 2008

Chinese Dissident Hu Wins Sakharov Award

Chinese political activist Hu Jia won the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, the parliament announced Thursday.

"By awarding the Sakharov Prize to Hu Jia, the European Parliament firmly and resolutely acknowledges the daily struggle for freedom of all Chinese human rights defenders," European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pottering said in a news release issued from Strasbourg, France.

Hu, a prominent human rights activist and Chinese dissident, has spoken out on a number of causes, including environmental issues and HIV/AIDS advocacy, as well as called for an official inquiry into the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, Pottering said.

In April, Hu was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in jail after participating in a November 2007 conference call during a meeting of the EP Human Rights Subcommittee to discuss human rights in China. He was under house arrest at the time of the conference call. His arrests have drawn worldwide protest.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, named for Soviet physicist and political dissident Andrei Sakharov. The ceremony will be in Strasbourg, France, in December.