BRUSSELS — The democratic opposition and political prisoners in Venezuela on Thursday won the European Union’s Sakharov Prize for human rights.

The European Parliament said that it wanted to reward the courage of students and politicians fighting for freedom in the face of a repressive government.

Guy Verhofstadt of the ALDE liberal group said that “this award supports the fight of democratic forces for a democratic Venezuela.” He urged “the international community to join us in this fight for the freedom of the people of Venezuela.”

The Venezuelan laureates follow the footsteps of last year’s winners, two Yazidi women who escaped sexual enslavement by the Islamic State group.

The award, named after Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, was created in 1988 to honor individuals or groups who defend human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Other finalists this year included a Pakistani Christian woman who has been on death row for six years, a human rights defender in Guatemala, two pro-Kurdish prisoners in Turkey, a Swedish-Eritrean playwright long held in Eritrea and a Burundian human rights activist.