In memory of Elena Bonner
Elena Bonner, the wife of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Andrei Sakharov, and herself a prominent human rights activist and laureate of the Thorolf Rafto Prize, passed away on 18 June.
Elena Bonner was an active dissident in the Soviet Union and one of the founders of the Moscow Helsinki Group. She maintained her commitment to human rights and democracy all her life despite her refuge in the USA, and was one of the first signatories of the campaign “Putin must go” only last year, in March 2010.
-Elena Bonner was a brave woman and a powerful defender for democratic rights, says Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. The memory of Bonner and her husband will continue to be honoured both through the work of the Helsinki Committees and though the Sakharov Freedom Award.
Since 1980, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee has regularly awarded the Sakharov Freedom Award to human rights activists who are imprisoned or persecuted because of their opinions, beliefs or conscience. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee was permitted to use the name of Andrei Sakharov by Elena Bonner personally.