Caesar - ALDE Group’s candidate for the Sakharov Prize 2018
The Liberal and Democrat Group in the European Parliament has decided to nominate Caesar for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. A former Syrian military photographer who fled Syria and is now living under a code name, he risked his own life to bring pictures of the unspeakable crimes committed in Syrian military prisons to the attention of the world.
ALDE Group leader, Guy Verhofstadt, said Caesar’s nomination is very important, as this kind of documentation in the fight against impunity is essential:
“I’m proud that the ALDE Group proposes Caeser for this year's Sakharov Prize. Seven years after it started, the Syrian war still goes on - and Assad continues to massacre his own people. Caesar's work is a vital contribution to the task of holding the Syrian Government to account for thousands of heinous crimes and his dedication to expose the truth obliges us to fight against impunity, in Syria and internationally.
When working on a settlement for Syria and supporting the future reconstruction of the country, the EU must deliver on this obligation, and insist that a case at the International Criminal Court is built and Assad and his henchmen held to account.”
ALDE MEP, Marietje Schaake (D66, The Netherlands), who advocated for Caesar to be the Group’s candidate for Sakharov Prize this year, added:
“Caesar showed remarkable courage in the face of the systematic brutalities that so many Syrians face in military prisons. The documentation of victims offers evidence of the darkest parts of the Syrian government’s repression. When the history of Syria is written, Ceasar will undoubtedly feature on some of the pages on accountability and justice. He provided the evidence, now the international community, Europe first and foremost, must push for justice and accountability.”
Note to editors:
Caesar smuggled more than 55,000 photographs documenting the gravest crimes out of Syria. After the start of the war in 2011, Caesar’s task was to take pictures of the corpses of both dead Syrian soldiers and political opponents killed in detention. In 2013, Caesar fled from Syria with the intention of making public the crimes committed. Risking his own life and his family’s security, he secretly copied photographs taken in Syria’s prisons onto usb sticks and smuggled them out of the country.
A year later, Caesars’ photographs were published on the internet. More than half of the images show people who died in Syrian prisons as a result of torture, execution, disease, malnutrition or other abuse. Human Rights Watch confirmed the authenticity of the images in an 86-page report "If the Dead Could Speak. Mass Deaths and Torture in Syria’s Detention Facilities" published in December 2015. An exhibition of the photos was organised in the European Parliament, but also in the Holocaust Museum in the United States.