Sakharov Prize awarded to Jina Mahsa Amini and the ‘Jin, Jiyan, Azadi’ movement in Iran

The European Parliament honours Jina Mahsa Amini and Iranian women protesters.

The EP 2023 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought has been awarded to Jina Mahsa Amini and the ‘Jin, Jiyan, Azadi’ (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, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman, was arrested by police in Tehran on 13 September 2022 for allegedly ignoring Iran’s strict veiling laws. She died in hospital three days later after physical abuse suffered while in custody. Her death sparked massive women-led protests across the country. Under the slogan “Woman, Life, Freedom”, women have been protesting since her death against the hijab rules and other discriminatory laws.

On their way to France to receive the EP 2023 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, on 8 December 2023, Jina Mahsa Amini's parents and brother were stopped at Tehran airport by the Iranian authorities, and their passports confiscated. They are now subject to a travel ban. On Saturday, Roberta Metsola, called on "the Iranian regime to reverse its decision".

The family was represented in Strasbourg by their lawyer, Saleh Nikbakht, who read a message from Jina Mahsa Amini’s mother, Mozhgan Eftekhari, during the ceremony: "Jina’s grief is eternal to me, and she is undying for people all over the world. I firmly believe that her name, beside that of Joan of Arc, will remain a symbol of freedom. From the birthplace of eternal Jina, I convey to you my and my family’s endless gratitude and I hope that you will stand firm and proud by your choice. Let us hope that no voice will fear the pronouncement of liberty."

The replay of the ceremony can be watched here.