Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Empty chair to represent Cuban dissident at EU parliament ceremony

Empty chair to represent Cuban dissident at EU parliament ceremony
Posted : Tue, 14 Dec 2010 13:04:18 GMT
Europe World News | Home

Strasbourg, France - A Cuban dissident prevented from collecting a
European Parliament prize in person will be represented by an empty
chair when the ceremony takes place Wednesday, officials announced on

Guillermo Farinas was named the winner of the 2010 Sakharov Prize for
Freedom of Thought in October. But Cuban authorities prevented him from
traveling to the EU parliament's seat in Strasbourg, France, to collect
the award.

In a statement, the European Parliament said he would be "represented by
an empty chair tomorrow at the prize award ceremony as he has not
received the necessary permission to leave the country."

Farinas, a 49-year-old psychologist who has undertaken several hunger
strikes to defend human rights in Cuba, is expected to address lawmakers
through a recorded speech, the statement added.

The Parliament's move is reminiscent of the Nobel Prize committee's
decision last week to leave an empty chair during an award ceremony for
Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who was unable to attend
because he has been jailed by Chinese authorities.

But it is not the first time that Sakharov winners cannot collect the
prize in person. Past examples include Hu Jia, another jailed Chinese
human rights activist, the Cuban association Ladies in White and Burma
opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.


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