Iranian symbols against oppression win EU’s 2023 Sakharov Prize

FILE PHOTO: People take part in a protest against the Islamic regime of Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini, in Berlin, Germany, December 10, 2022. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi/File Photo

Jina Mahsa Amini and the “Woman, Life, Freedom” movement from Iran won the 2023 Sakharov Prize, placing them in the company of notable past awardees such as Malala Yousafzai and Nelson Mandela. Roberta Metsola, the President of the European Parliament, was the one who made the announcement of the recipient of this prestigious prize.

At the age of 22, Mahsa Amini tragically died on September 16, 2022, while in the custody of Iran’s religious police. Her alleged arrest by the state authorities was a violation of Iran’s strict dress code for women. Her death garnered global attention and garnered support for the “Woman, Life, Freedom” movement. The incident sparked outrage in Iran, where anger toward the government had already been on the rise.

Across cities worldwide, the “Woman, Life, Freedom” campaign continues to gather momentum. Frequent demonstrations feature participants holding up Mahsa Amini’s photograph, symbolizing the ongoing struggle for women’s rights and freedom. The “Woman, Life, Freedom” movement received substantial backing from the three primary political groups within the European Parliament, positioning it as the leading contender for the Sakharov Prize. This support underscores the European Parliament’s dedication to advocating for global human rights and women’s rights.

The other contenders on the shortlist were Wilma Nunez de Escorcia and Bishop Rolando Jose Alvarez Lagos, who advocated for rights in Nicaragua, and three women campaigning for abortion rights: Justyna Wydrzynska from Poland, Morena Herrera from El Salvador, and Colleen McNicholas from the United States.

The Sakharov Prize is accompanied by a 50,000 euros award and holds a prominent position in recognizing individuals and movements that champion human rights and freedom. It serves as a strong reminder of the ongoing struggle for justice and equality on a global scale.

The presentation of the Sakharov Prize to Mahsa Amini and the “Woman, Life, Freedom” movement coincides with the passage of a new bill by Iran’s parliament. This bill increases the penalties and fines for women and girls who do not adhere to the country’s stringent dress code.

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