CSOs meet with the European Parliament’s 2023 Sakharov Prize Laureate and Finalists.

Discussion laureates’ ‘’Jina Mahsa Amini and the Woman, Life Freedom Movement in Iran’’ representatives and MEP Abir Al-Sahlani, led by Ringaile Razauskiene

The EP Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, initiated in 1988 to commend individuals or groups championing human rights and fundamental freedoms, was awarded to the late Iranian protest figure Jina Mahsa Amini and the Woman, Life, Freedom movement.

Jina Mahsa Amini, who tragically passed away at 22 while detained by Iran’s religious police, was honoured alongside the movement she inspired. The finalists included Vilma Núñez de Escorcia and Bishop Rolando José Álvarez Lagos from Nicaragua, as well as advocates for abortion rights: Ms Justyna Wydrzyńska from Poland, Ms Morena Herrera from El Salvador, and Dr Colleen McNicholas from the US.

The prize ceremony occurred on Monday, the 11th, followed by a robust discussion session and panel at the European Parliament on Tuesday, the 12th. Representatives from 21 civil society organisations, including Broken Chalk, participated in the event alongside MEP Abir Al-Sahlani.

Civil society organisations meet with the European Parliament’s 2023 Sakharov Prize laureate and finalists

The discussion session and panel aimed to provide a platform for the Sakharov Prize finalists to highlight their challenges and explore potential collaborations with civil society organisations. It also facilitated increased cooperation within these organisations.

Among the finalists, 84-year-old human rights defender Vilma Núñez de Escorcia, co-founder of the Nicaraguan Centre for Human Rights, and Bishop Rolando José Álvarez Lagos, facing persecution for his outspoken stance on Nicaragua’s crisis, were represented in the panel. Additionally, abortion rights activist Ms Justyna Wydrzyńska, feminist Ms Morena Herrera, and obstetrician-gynaecologist Dr Colleen McNicholas shared their unwavering commitment to reproductive rights.

A panel titled “Discussion with Human Rights Activists” featured Lorent Saleh, a Venezuelan human rights activist; Louise Xin, a Paris-based fashion designer; and Pegah Moshir Pour, an advocate for human and digital rights with roots in Iran and Italy. The event shed light on these activists’ diverse and impactful work in human rights.

The 2023 Sakharov Prize finalists were :

Vilma Nuñez de Escorcia is an 84-year-old human rights defender and co-founder of the Nicaraguan Centre for Human Rights (CENIDH). A former Nicaraguan Supreme Court Magistrate, she has tirelessly fought for human rights in Nicaragua for decades. Ms Sara Henríquez represented her during the panel.

Monsignor Rolando José Álvarez Lagos, Bishop of the Diocese of Matagalpa, has since 2018, been the victim of persecution for his sermons, in which he has reflected on the country’s crisis, state repression and the victims of human rights violations. Father Uriel Vallejos represented him.

Ms Justyna Wydrzyńska is an abortion rights activist and women’s rights defender renowned for her work supporting individuals who seek to have an abortion.

Ms. Morena Herrera is a feminist and social activist dedicated to advocating for safe and legal abortion access in her country. She is the founder of the country’s first feminist organisation and serves as the president of the Citizen’s Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion.

Dr Colleen McNicholas is a distinguished obstetrician gynaecologist known for her unwavering commitment to high-quality patient care and impactful advocacy in reproductive health.


Lorent Saleh is a Venezuelan human rights activist who has defended human rights since 2007, often facing repeated detentions by Venezuelan authorities.

Louise Xin was Born in China, raised in Sweden, and based in Paris. She is a self-taught, multi-award-winning fashion designer, creative director and the founder of  Scandinavia’s first rental-only, non-sale couture brand.

Pegah Moshir Pour is a consultant and activist for human and digital rights. Born in Iran and raised in Italy, Moshir Pour was at the forefront of social media diffusion after Mahsa Jina Amini’s death.