Monday

21st Jun 2021

EU parliament hails Arab Spring self-immolation

  • EU election monitor on Sunday - Tunisia's peaceful revolution began with an act of violence by one man against himself (Photo: European Parliament)

MEPs in Strasbourg on Thursday (27 October) awarded the Sakharov Prize to five activists including Mohammed Bouazizi - a 27-year-old Tunisian street trader who burned himself to death in December in protest against corruption, inspiring revolutionaries at home and in the region.

The four other winners were Egyptian blogger Asmaa Mahfouz, Libyan dissident Ahmed al-Zubair Ahmed al-Sanusi, who spent 31 years in Colonel Gaddafi's dungeons, Syrian human rights lawyer Razan Zaitouneh and Syrian cartoonist Ali Farzat.

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EU parliament President Jerzy Buzek said while making the announcement: "This is an expression of our support for what's going on in our closest neighbourhood ... an expression of solidarity with the Arab world."

Liberal group leader Guy Verhoftsadt said in a written statement: "This recognition is also a pledge from Europe to be there to build upon the achievements of the people."

The award comes after Tunisia on Sunday held the first post-Arab Spring elections.

MEPs monitoring the vote said it was free and fair, making the country a model for future developments in Egypt and Libya, despite disquiet in Europe that an Islamist party won 40 percent of seats.

Self-immolation is more commonly associated with Buddhist monks.

German centre-right MEP Thomas Mann in a statement on Thursday highlighted a new parliament resolution calling on China to end its persecution of dissident clerics in the Kirti monastery in Tibet.

"Nine monks and one nun have seen no other way in their desperation but to resort to self-immolation. They wanted to make sure that we look at what is happening," Mann said.

The Chinese foreign ministry last week accused Tibetan leader-in-exile the Dalai Lama of supporting "terrorism" when he held a prayer service for the dead at his home in India.

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