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Marietje Schaake nominates 'Standing Man' Turkey for EU Sakharov-prize


Dutch Member of European Parliament Marietje Schaake (D66/ALDE) has nominated the 'Standing Man' in Turkey for the European Parliament's annual human rights prize. Schaake: "The peaceful protest movement in reaction to the increased restriction of civil rights and fundamental freedoms in Turkey took the form of silent and standing protests. First portrayed by choreographer Erdem Gündüz at Taksim Square and afterwards a symbol of peaceful protests against violent police action. It is important that the EU recognizes the courage of peaceful protesters in light of the violent repression they faced."

Protests Last June protests broke out in Turkey over a planned construction project in Istanbul's Gezi Park. Prime Minister Erdoğan was a driving force behind the project. "While there was widespread anger over this project the increased erosion of the rule of law, democracy and human rights in Turkey were the underlying reasons for massive protests. I also have grave concerns over restrictions on press and media freedom in Turkey; in no other country more journalists are jailed. Millions of Turks have drawn a clear line and stood for their rights and freedoms", Schaake says.

EU-membership Schaake considers that the silent protests represent the vast movement of people in Turkey yearning for a free and liberal society in which respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and minorities lie at the heart. "For supporters of Turkey's accession to the EU this means we should proactively engage with the Turkish authorities to ensure the country will eventually meet the strict Copenhagen criteria", the MEP stresses.

Prize The Sakharov Prize is awarded at the end of November as recognition for an achievement in the field of human rights and democracy. The prize is worth 50,000 euros. Last year's prize went to Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who was nominated by Schaake. Past winners include Nelson Mandela (1988), Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (1992), China's Hu Jia (2008) and the activists of the Arab Spring (2011).