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Freedom Prize 2017 awarded to Nijolė Sadūnaitė, freedom fighter and former political prisoner

Press release, 13 January 2018

Photos of the Office of the Seimas (author Džoja Gunda Barysaitė)


At the solemn Commemoration of the Day of the Defenders of Freedom on 13 January 2018, the Freedom Prize 2017 was awarded to Nijolė Sadūnaitė, freedom fighter and former political prisoner. Owing to her underground activities, Nijolė Sadūnaitė is considered to be one of the most famous Lithuanian dissidents of the time, human rights activist and fighter for Lithuania’s freedom.  


In her speech, Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė, Member of the Seimas and Chairperson of the Freedom Prize Commission, expressed her conviction that Nijolė Sadūnaitė’s activities had brought Lithuania closer to independence. ‘Your meetings with US President Ronald Reagan or Pope John Paul II raised the profile of our country, history, and fight for freedom. You cared not only about the cause of Lithuania but also other subjugated nations, which had been deprived of their right to religion and negated freedom. You have always been concerned about the vulnerable, the deprived, and the disadvantaged. You shared the goodness with those imprisoned in the labour camps with you. You invited people to share during the National Revival when re-establishing the charity organisation Caritas,’ said the Chairperson of the Freedom Prize Commission.      



Upon congratulating the winner of the Freedom Prize 2017, Ms Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė said that ‘the Freedom Prize is awarded to you for your fearlessness, courage, and love to Lithuania; for the Lithuania we have and are building; for your unwavering and long-standing confidence in a prosperous future of Lithuania; for your struggle in the name of it. It may be imperfect, but it is our independent Lithuania. Thank you for your unwavering and long-standing confidence in a prosperous future of Lithuania.’


The winner of the Freedom Prize thanked everybody for the consideration and significant acknowledgement. “I stood for the truth during the dismal period of the Soviet occupation. And I have been striving for the truth in the independent Lithuania. My pursuit of the truth and justice is my way of fighting for freedom. Freedom from lies, fear, persecution of dissenters, opportunism, and hypocrisy,’ said Nijolė Sadūnaitė.       




Sister Nijolė Sadūnaitė, the first female winner of the Freedom Prize and defender of Lithuania’s freedom, is probably the best world-known political prisoner of the Soviet Lithuania. Her contribution to the defence of the rights of the Catholic Church, her personal confrontation with the Soviet totalitarianism, and her speech at the unsanctioned anti-Soviet rally on 23 August 1987 made her known throughout the free world. The Soviet Lithuania regarded Sister Nijolė Sadūnaitė as the most dangerous enemy to the functioning regime. She was constantly attacked by the Soviet Lithuanian media in attempts to discredit her life and activities through ideological propaganda and stigmatisation campaigns.


The Freedom Prize was established on 15 September 2011 to acknowledge the achievements and contribution of persons and organisations to the defence of human rights, democratic development, and fostering of international cooperation for the cause of sovereignty and the right to self-determination of Eastern and Central European nations.



Rimas Rudaitis, Chief Specialist, Press Office, Information and Communication Department, 

tel. +370 5 239 6132, e-mail:

   Last updated on 01/16/2018
   Jolanta Anskaitienė

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