EU's Barroso, Buzek hail Bonner's struggle for rights

19th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Europe's human rights-driven institutions, the European commission and European parliament, paid tribute Sunday to Soviet dissident Yelena Bonner, who died aged 88, for her courageous fight for freedom.

"The world has lost one of the most inspiring and dedicated human rights defenders," said former Polish premier Jerzy Buzek, who heads the parliament.

She "fought fiercely for the rights of the individual and family of every ethnic group and every state."

"Along with her husband, scientist and human rights defender Andrei Sakharov, she gave hope to people in desperate need for freedom and justice."

The parliament since 1988 each year awards the Sakharov Prize in honour of Bonner's husband, with past winners of the 50,000-euro (64,150-dollar) award including Nelson Mandela, Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi and former UN chief Kofi Annan.

At the last award, an empty chair draped in a Cuban flag symbolised Havana's refusal to allow dissident Guillermo Farinas to pick up the prize.

Jose Manuel Barrosso, who heads the EU's executive commission, said "she stood side by side with her husband in the fight for political freedom, democracy and human rights in the former Soviet Union, and all over the world."

"I want to pay tribute to the courage she showed in standing up for fundamental freedoms and human dignity that people worldwide demand," he said in a statement

© 2011 AFP

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