S&D-backed candidate Denis Mukwege wins Sakharov Prize for 2014
The Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament awarded the 2014 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to the Congolese gynaecologist Dr Denis Mukwege. The Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament expressed their complete satisfaction with this choice, noting that since 1999 more than 40,000 women victims of rape have been treated by Dr Denis Mukwege.
Gianni Pittella, president of the Socialists and Democrats Group, said:
"Dr Denis Mukwege deserves the Sakharov Prize because of the consistency and duration of his advocacy for the rights of women, his raising of awareness of the issue of rape as a weapon of war, his transfer of knowledge through training other surgeons and the personal risks that he takes as a result of his work.
"The Parliament's decision to award Dr Mukwege the Sakharov Prize will help both the medical activities and the sustainability of the hospital as Dr Mukwege is training new doctors to care for women who have been raped.
"The award of this prize should be seen as our group's first step to giving greater support and attention to the continent of Africa. In times of crisis – economically, politically and even medically – this continent deserves our full attention.
S&D MEP Elena Valenciano Martínez-Orozco said:
"Dr Mukwege has been dealing with the worst side of humanity every day for decades. His work offers a glimmer of light in deep darkness and it deserves all our recognition and support. He has spoken out on behalf of the most vulnerable, denouncing the impunity which has protected the men who committed mass rapes in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – a brave stance which almost cost him his life.
"This well-deserved award for Dr Mukwege will bring global attention to the ongoing conflict in the DRC and to the situation in Africa generally. But we also want to raise awareness of the ever-increasing phenomenon of wartime rape in many parts of the world – affecting millions of women and children who bear the physical scars of the destruction in their countries. The international community must react urgently and take action to shatter this culture of impunity and put an end to this horrific practice that leaves deep scars in societies for generations."