Democratic opposition in Belarus awarded 2020 Sakharov Prize

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The European Parliament has awarded this year's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to the democratic opposition in Belarus, which has faced a fierce crackdown by security forces loyal to longtime President Alexander Lukashenko.

"It is an honour to announce that the women and men of the democratic opposition in #Belarus are the 2020 #SakharovPrize laureates," David Sassoli, the head of the European Parliament, tweeted on Thursday.

"They have on their side something that brute force can never defeat: the truth. Do not give up on your fight. We are by your side," Sassoli added.

The European Parliament named 10 people when announcing the award, including opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and the Nobel prize winning author Svetlana Alexievich.

Belarusians have been protesting for several weeks against the disputed re-election of President Lukashenko, who claimed an overwhelming victory in an August 9 poll.

A brutal crackdown on initial protests against the result has only fuelled popular anger.

The annual Sakharov Prize honours individuals and groups of people who fight for the defence of human rights and freedom of thought.