Imprisoned pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) Co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ have been nominated for the prestigious Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought given by the European Parliament (EP), the EP press service reported on Wednesday.
The reason for the nomination of the imprisoned leaders was that “[t]hey are the symbols of the repression happening today in Turkey, a repression that has affected close to 150,000 officials including many magistrates,” according to Marie-Christine Vergiat. The French member of the European United Left-Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) group reminded that Kurds Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ fought for the rights of minorities in Turkey and that their parliamentary immunity was lifted in May 2016, months before an attempted coup in the country.
The GUE/NGL has nominated Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ for the prize to honor their work in defending human rights and fundamental freedoms in Turkey, according to a statement on the EP’s website.
Nominations for the Sakharov Prize can be made by political groups or by at least 40 MEPs. Based on the nominations, the foreign affairs and development committees vote on a shortlist of three finalists. After that the Conference of Presidents, made up of the parliament president and the leaders of the political groups, select the winner.
The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought was set up in 1988 “to honour individuals and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms.”