Iran: Mahsa Amini's family stopped at airport on way to collect award

The family of Mahsa Amini have been banned from flying to France to collect a top human rights prize in her honour.

Ms Amini’s parents and brother were stopped from boarding their flight and had their passports confiscated, their lawyer said.

They were travelling to Strasbourg to be presented with the EU’s Sakharov Prize – which has been awarded posthumously to Ms Amini.

Their lawyer said they were banned from leaving despite having valid visas.

Ms Amini’s death last year sparked protests unlike any the country had seen before.

She died in hospital in Tehran on 16 September 2022, three days after she was detained by morality police in the capital for allegedly violating Iran’s strict rules requiring women to cover their hair with a hijab, or headscarf.

Witnesses said the 22-year-old Kurd was beaten while in custody, but authorities denied she was mistreated and instead blamed “sudden heart failure” for her death.

In October, the European Union announced it was posthumously awarding its top rights prize to Ms Amini and the global “Woman, Life, Freedom” movement that her death triggered.

Speaking to the AFP news agency, the family’s lawyer, Chirinne Ardakani, said Ms Amini’s mother, father and brother had been “prohibited from boarding the flight that was to take them to France for the presentation of the Sakharov Prize”.

She said the Iranian authorities “have never been so mobilised to prevent the families of the victims from speaking to the international community”.

The president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, called on Iran to “retract the decision” to ban the family from travelling.

“Their place next Tuesday is at the European Parliament in Strasbourg to receive the Sakharov Prize, with the brave women of Iran,” she said on social media. “The truth cannot be silenced.”

In September, on the anniversary of his daughter’s death, Ms Amini’s father Amjad was detained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and warned against marking the anniversary of his daughter’s death, according to human rights groups.

Thousands of people around the world did mark the anniversary, taking to the streets in mass protests. Mr Amini was later released.

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