Narges Mohammadi, an imprisoned human rights defender who has dedicated her life to fighting against the oppression of women in Iran, has been awarded the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize.
The Nobel Committee’s Berit Reiss-Andersen said the 51-year-old activist is being recognised for her courageous work in promoting freedom for all: “Her brave struggle has come with tremendous personal costs. Altogether, the regime has arrested her 13 times, convicted her five times, and sentenced her to a total of 31 years in prison and 154 lashes.”
According to Amnesty International, Narges is currently unjustly imprisoned and is serving a lengthy jail sentence in Tehran’s Evin prison, accused by the regime of “spreading propaganda”. In a statement on social media, the organisation says her recognition by the Nobel Peace Committee “will not set her free but it sends a clear message to the Iranian authorities that their crackdown on peaceful critics and human rights defenders will not go unchallenged.”
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According to a message shared on her official Instagram page, Narges is yet to learn of her award:
“As you may know, it is impossible to make a phone call in Evin prison for political prisoners of the women’s ward on Fridays and Thursdays so we have to wait until tomorrow to hear from Narges and give her the good news.”
As with many political prisoners, Narges hasn’t been allowed to see her husband or two children, 16 year old twins Ali and Kiana, for the last 8 years. In a statement to CNN, her family said: “Although the years of her absence can never be compensated for us, the reality is that the honour of recognising Narges’ efforts for peace is a source of solace for our indescribable suffering.”
Narges is the 19th woman to win the prestigious honour in 122 years.
According to the Nobel Committee, Narges became involved with the Defenders of Human Rights Centre in Tehran in 2003, an organisation founded by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi. Since then, she has fought for incarcerated activists and their families, campaigned against the death penalty and whilst in prison, has been actively opposing the use of torture and sexualised violence against political prisoners.
More recently, she has been expressing her support for the “Women, Life, Freedom” movement from prison which has lead to authorities imposing more strict conditions on her. She also managed to send out an opinion piece from behind bars – despite having much of her communication cut off – which was published by the New York Times on the anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s death. Her message: “The more of us they lock up, the stronger we become.”
(Feature Image Credit: Mohammadi family archive photos/Handout)