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Two days in Strasbourg for the award of the Sakharov Prize

Iurii, Elodie and Ekin, our three Facebook fans who came to Strasbourg in December, here with President Buzek.

Iurii, Elodie and Ekin, our three Facebook fans who came to Strasbourg. Above, with President Buzek.

End of last year, three fans of the European Parliament on Facebook came to Strasbourg to attend the award of the Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought. They were chosen by draw among almost 2.000 people who registered to an event on Facebook. Iurii, 22-years old, Ukrainian, and Elodie,  24, French, tell us about their 2-days experience in the European Parliament.

Iurii:

If someone asked me a month ago “What is the Sakharov prize?” I would answer “This has something to do with the freedom of thought, right?” Currently I would say that this is an annual ceremony held in the European Parliament in Strasbourg to honor those people who have made a major contribution to the fight for the freedom of thought in their country. The prize is named after Andrei Sakharov, Soviet nuclear physicist, dissident and human rights activist. Who could have thought that I would know all this because of a social network called Facebook? I sure didn’t. But because of devoted work of European Parliament’s Facebook division and Web department such people like me are getting to know more and more about human rights and freedom of thought.

On December 15th I had the honor to be present at this ceremony together with 2 more young people from Turkey and France. This incredible opportunity became possible because of tremendous efforts of the EP workers, especially those of the Web Department, Events Unit and numerous other people who contributed to it. The program for the day included not only the ceremony itself, but also a seminar on human rights for journalists, a tour around the building, a possibility to be present at the debate on the annual report on human rights, lunch at the EP restaurant, the opening of the Silhouettes of the Sakharov Prize laureates and even more. The day was filled with various events to say the least. I would like to point out that the events were not obligatory i.e. we were not forced to attend them. But who would want to miss at least one of them really? In the evening we had a lot of free time, which we spent wondering around the city centre, admiring the Christmas decorations on each and every building. I think that Strasbourg is called “the capital of Christmas” for a good reason. I would like to thank all the EP staff, especially the Facebook division of the Web department for all the patience, support and positive attitude.

Thank you everyone out there for using Facebook!

If you still don’t – join us!

Iurii Medentsii from Ukraine

Elodie:

Winning the trip offered by the European Parliament for the award of the Sakharov Prize only by being friends with the European Parliament on Facebook and joining the event was just unbelievable for me. I couldn’t think it was real, until I arrived in Strasbourg.

Has anyone already win something through Facebook? Europe makes it possible, and especially the Facebook team of the European Parlement ;)

It was just awesome to be in Strasbourg to participate to  the Shakaraov Ceremony together with the other two winners Ekin and Iurii. Living in Brussels and going to Strasbourg for the ceremony made the trip just completely 200% European :)

The very well organized trip was for us an awesome experience: we had the pleasure to see how the Parliament works on a busy plenary day, to attend the award of the Sakharov Price and to meet the President Mr Buzek.

Unfortunately, Guillermo Fariñas couldn’t be there so we had a ceremony with an empty chair. Despite this, the entire day was dedicated to him: in the Parliament precincts, during the ceremony of the Sakharov Prize, during the debate about the Annual Report on Human Rights with Mrs Catherine Ashton, and also during the opening of both exhibitions: the one about Andrej Sakharov in the Parliament and the one on Human Rights in the city of Strasbourg.

I would like to end with a great thanks to all the team who organized our trip to Strasbourg ;)

Thank you all for everything, because the Strasbourg European Parliament trip was simply amazing.

Elodie Begou

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