The EP 2023 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought has been awarded to Jina Mahsa Amini and the Woman, Life, Freedom movement in Iran, in a ceremony on 12 December. The laureates were represented by Saleh Nikbakht, academic and lawyer representing Jina Mahsa Amini’s family; and Afsoon Najafi and Mersedeh Shahinkar, Iranian women's rights defenders who left Iran in 2023.
Opening the award ceremony, President Metsola declared: "This years’ Sakharov prize for Freedom of Thought, awarded to Jina Masha Amini and the Woman, Life, Freedom movement, serves as a tribute to all the brave and defiant women, men and young people in Iran, who despite coming under increasing pressure, are continuing the fight for their rights and push for change. The European Parliament hears you and supports you. You are not alone.ʺ
Jina Mahsa Amini was a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman. She was arrested by police in Tehran on 13 September 2022 for allegedly ignoring Iran’s strict veiling laws, and died in a Tehran hospital three days later following physical abuse while in custody.
Among the finalists were also: Women fighting for a free, safe and legal abortion: Justyna Wydrzyńska - Poland, Morena Herrera - El Salvador and Colleen McNichols - United States and Vilma Núñez de Escorcia and Bishop Rolando José Álvarez Lagos, Nicaragua.
The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is awarded each year by the European Parliament. It was set up in 1988 to honour individuals and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is named in honour of Soviet physicist and political dissident Andrei Sakharov and the prize money is 50 000 euros. Last year, Parliament awarded the prize to the brave people of Ukraine, represented by their president, elected leaders, and civil society.
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