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
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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 Tuesday.

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.,dissident-eu-parliament-ceremony.html

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