Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2005-12-14-Speech-3-081"

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"‘ . Mr José Borrell, President of the European Parliament, ladies and gentlemen, esteemed participants, Mr Robert Ménard, Doctor Ibrahim, European friends and Cuban brothers and sisters resident in all parts of the world, the honour of being awarded the 2005 Sakharov Prize, shared with Doctor Ibrahim and the hard-working and selfless Reporters Without Borders, has touched the hearts of the Women in White and of the seventy-five prisoners of conscience imprisoned in Cuba during the black spring of 2003 very deeply. We shall receive you in our modest homes and not just we five women, but many many more, will be able to show you personally the harsh conditions, the arbitrary treatment, the intimidation and repression suffered by our prisoners and our families. Before I finish, in view of their particular significance amongst the very many acknowledgements and congratulations that we have received, I would like to quote the words of former Czech President Vaclav Havel: ‘Dear Women in White, I would like to congratulate you most warmly on the prize that you have been awarded by the European Parliament. Your strength makes you worthy of this recognition. I am convinced that it will serve as an inspiration to your courageous husbands, just as the interest of the free world was an inspiration for me during the darkest times of my imprisonment. Vaclav Havel’. Finally, and I hope you will not take this as impertinent, rude or discourteous, I would like to inform you that the Women in White have asked me not to take part in the official lunch that you have arranged following this ceremony. This ‘empty chair’ policy is only intended to be a symbolic gesture, of protest against the Cuban dictatorship and of condemnation in the eyes of the world, at the absence of the true recipients of this prize. I hope that you can understand and forgive such a blatant absence. We would like once again to thank you for acknowledging us — wives, mothers, daughters, sisters and aunts, representatives of the Cuban people — and we would like to reiterate our conviction that no cause is impossible if it is inspired by justice, reconciliation and love. Every voice, united in diversity, for the right to freedom of thought. Signed: Laura Poyán, wife of Héctor Maceda; Miriam Leyva, wife of Óscar Espinosa Chepe; Berta Soler, wife of Ángel Moya; Loida Valdés, wife of Alfredo Felipe Fuentes; Julia Núñez, wife of Adolfo Fernández Saíz. Havana, 14 December 2005. I would like firstly to welcome a supportive delegation of friends of the Women in White in exile ― and I mean exile ― who are here with us in the visitors’ gallery. I myself am a woman of exile, because, as you are well aware, the real Women in White are not with us today, unfortunately. We never imagined that our spontaneous group, motivated by pain and injustice, which has no political allegiance or party or group organisation, would receive such a prestigious tribute. For us, this prize means an even greater commitment to our cause and to you; an inspiration to carry on defending the innocence of our loved ones with greater courage and to demand their immediate and unconditional release. Once again, the Cuban Government has demonstrated its systematic violation of the human rights of the population of our country on a daily basis, by denying five peaceful and defenceless women permission to travel and to be with you at this prizing-giving ceremony, despite having completed all of the bureaucratic procedures that it had demanded of them, the majority of which are unnecessary and incomprehensible, including the efforts of this Parliament and of certain European personalities and governments. This does not prevent the Women in White from being here in Strasbourg today, nor the seventy-five prisoners sentenced since March 2003 and hundreds of Cuban prisoners of conscience and politicians. On the contrary, the entire world will hear your voices today and the response of all of us. We will not collect that prize today, but, like Andrei Sakharov, the eminent scientist and selfless fighter for freedom of thought, the exemplary Aung San Suu Kyi, the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo and all the other winners from previous years, we shall continue our tireless efforts to ensure that social justice, democracy and reconciliation prevail. In particular, we could bring you together with our compatriot Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, the Cuban awarded in the prize in 2002. We would like you to visit us in our homeland, Cuba, for an award ceremony for the Prize for Freedom of Thought in the near future."@en1
"(The House stood and applauded the speaker)"1

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