Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Conservatives nominate Malala Yousafzai for prestigious human rights prize

12th September 2013

Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head and neck by the Taliban in Pakistan, has been nominated by European Conservatives and Reformists Group MEPs for the EU Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought.

The prestigious Prize is named after Soviet scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov. It was established in December 1988 by the European Parliament as a means to honour individuals or organizations who had dedicated their lives to the defence of human rights and freedoms. Previous winners include Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan.

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani school pupil and education activist from Pakistan's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province: In 2009 she wrote a blog for the BBC about her life under Taleban rule and the lack of education for girls. This was followed by a New York Times documentary about her life as the Pakistani military attempted to intervene in the region. She was shot last October on a school bus, seeing her eventually moved to the UK for treatment. She has since become a global figure speaking out in favour of women's rights and education rights.

Conservative Human Rights spokesman Charles Tannock said:

"Malala is an inspirational and incredibly brave young lady who deserves this prize for her resolve and stoicism in the face of danger.

"Awarding the prize to Malala would send a powerful signal about women's rights and education rights in the region and around the world.

"The Taliban may try to silence people through violence but the force of Malala's argument will never be silenced. The European Parliament has an opportunity to stand behind Malala's campaign and to send out the signal that violent actions will never prevail over freedom of thought."