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European Parliament awards Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege Sakharov Prize

He will be invited to Strasbourg on 26 November to receive the award during the plenary session

STRASBOURG, October 21. /TASS/. Gynecologist Denis Mukwege from the Democratic Republic of Congo won this year the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, European Parliament (EP) President Martin Schulz said Tuesday.

“Mukwege will be invited to Strasbourg on 26 November to receive the award during the plenary session,” the EP reported on its website.

While announcing Mukwege as the 2014 laureate, Schulz said: “The Conference of Presidents decided unanimously to award Dr Denis Mukwege from Democratic Republic of Congo the Sakharov Prize for his fight for protection especially of women.

“The 59-year-old gynecologist founded the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu in 1998, when a war took place in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where today he still treats victims of sexual violence who have sustained serious injuries,” the EP said.

“The war in DRC might be officially over, but the armed conflict still continues in the eastern part of the country and so do attacks against civilians, including gang rapes. Despite travelling regularly abroad to advocate women’s rights and managing Panzi Hospital, Mukwege continues to see patients and perform surgery two days a week,” it said.

In October 2012, there was an attempt to kill Mukwege that left his bodyguard dead. The doctor then had to go to Europe to only return to his homeland in 2013.

According to the EP, the Sakharov Prize is awarded annually by the European Parliament. The award was established in 1988 to honor people and organizations who defend human rights and fundamental freedoms. In 2013, the 50,000-euro ($63,600) prize was awarded to Pakistani campaigner for girls' education Malala Yousafzai.

Besides Mukwege, four representatives of the Ukrainian movement Euromaidan sought to win the prize. Naming the winner, Schulz said the awarding of the prize to Mukwege does not mean that the EP forgot about the movement.

Schulz said Euromaidan representatives will be invited to join the award ceremony in November and added that the Parliament will send a delegation to Azerbaijan to support rights campaigner Leyla Yunus, who was also one of the contenders, in her fight for freedom and democracy in her country.

The word “Euromaidan” is used as a collective name for anti-government protests in Ukraine that started when then-President Viktor Yanukovich refused to sign an association agreement with the European Union in late 2013. The protests often turned violent and eventually led to a coup in Ukraine in February 2014. The country has been in deep crisis ever since.