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Mahsa Amini Awarded EU’s Sakharov Human Rights Prize

The European Union has awarded its top human rights prize to Mahsa Amini and the Iranian “Woman, Life, Freedom” movement her death triggered.

The 22-year-old died in custody after allegedly violating the strict Iranian hijab (headscarf) rule for women.

Her death sparked protests that presented the most serious challenge to the Iranian authorities in decades.

The annual Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought recognises human rights activists and dissidents.

After announcing Ms Amini’s win, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said the day of her death would live in infamy.

“The brutal murder of 22-year-old Jina Mahsa Amini marked a turning point. It has triggered a women-led movement that is making history,” Ms Metsola said.

Iranian-Kurdish Mahsa Amini was visiting Tehran last year when she was arrested by the morality police for allegedly breaching Iran’s strict Islamic dress code for women.

Her death generated a global movement known as “Woman, Life, Freedom,” calling for an end to Iran’s imposition of a headscarf on all women and other discriminatory laws.

Ms Amini’s family and supporters said that she was killed, but Iranian authorities claim she died of a previously undisclosed medical condition.

The authorities brutally cracked down on the protests, which led to the EU imposing sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for human rights violations in Iran last year.

The Sakharov Prize goes further, sending a strong message of solidarity.

“The world has heard the chants of ‘Women, Life, Liberty’. Three words that have become a rallying cry for all those standing up for equality, for dignity and for freedom in Iran,” Roberta Metsola said, “We stand with those who, even from prison, continue to keep Women, Life and Freedom alive.”

The award comes two weeks after the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to an imprisoned Iranian rights campaigner, Narges Mohammadi, who has been fighting against the mandatory headscarf and the oppression of women in Iran.

Last year, the Sakharov Prize – given annually in memory of Soviet scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov – was awarded to the Ukrainian people for “protecting democracy, freedom and rule of law”, following Russia’s full-scale invasion of their country.

Ms Amini and the Iranian “Woman, Life, Freedom” movement join a distinguished list of previous winners, including Pakistani campaigner Malala Yousafzai and South Africa’s Nelson Mandela.

The award comes with a €50,000 (£43,500; $53,000) endowment, which will be presented in a European Parliament ceremony in December.

Last month, Iran’s parliament passed a controversial bill that would increase prison terms and fines for women and girls who break its strict dress code.

Source : BBC