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Human Rights Prize Accepted By Cuban Opposition Group After 8 Year Wait
April 23, 2013
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Photo: AFP

If you've never heard of the Ladies in White, they have a remarkable story.

They're a group of women in Cuba, who have spent years opposing the Castro government and fighting for human rights and freedom.

In 2005, they won an award called the 'Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought' - which is handed out each year by the European Union's Parliament.

Only trouble is, the Cuban government wouldn't allow the group to go to Belgium to receive their prize.

Well now, 8 years later, the Ladies in White have finally got it.

In January, Cuba made changes to its official travel policy making it possible for the women to obtain passports and leave the country.

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Today, they officially accepted their prize at a ceremony in Brussels.

The women were recognized for their campaign to free 75 political activists who were thrown in jail in 2003, as part of a crackdown on Cuba's opposition.

As she accepted the award for the group, Lady in White Laura Labrada said they never lost hope that this day would come.

"We are mothers, wives, daughters and sisters of Cubans who find themselves in prison in Cuba for exercising the most sacred human right: to live according to one's own conscience," she said.

Labrada accepted the prize on behalf of her late mother Laura Pollan, who co-founded the Ladies in White.

"You are the symbol of resistance against the Cuban government, and thousands of Cubans support you inside and outside the country," said the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz.

Every Sunday, dressed in white, the women march quietly through Havana - despite a government ban on organized opposition and public protests.

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Many times, they are arrested but their efforts have paid off as all 75 prisoners have been released.

15 of them still live in Cuba while the rest have moved to Spain at the invitation of the Spanish government.

In spite of that, the Ladies in White are still protesting - calling for their convictions to be officially overturned.

Until that happens, they say the 75 activists could be arrested again if the government sees fit.

The women also want to make the world aware of other dissidents in Cuba who are allegedly still in jail for their political views.

Cuba says the group is sponsored by the United States and is part of an effort to bring down its socialist government.

The award is named after the late Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, who fought for civil liberties and civil reforms in the Soviet Union.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975.

via The BBC

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