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Nobel Peace Prize: Who is Narges Mohammadi, an Iranian who won the award this year?

The Nobel Peace Prize has been announced today by the Norwegian Nobel Committee. This year's Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to Narges Mohammadi, a human rights activist who raised her voice against the oppression of women in Iran and has been fighting for women for many years.


But Narges will not be able to go to Oslo (the capital of Norway) on December 10 to receive the award. An engineer-turned-activist, Narges is currently living in a detention facility in Iran under the charges of 'spreading anti-state propaganda'. She is the second Iranian woman to be awarded in the prize's history.


Till date, the Iranian governement has arrested her 13 times, convicted her five times, sentenced her total 31 years  in prison and 154 lashes. She was first arrested in 1998 for criticisms  of the Iranian government. In 2010 she was arrested because of her association with Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC).  One year later she found guilty of "acting against the national security, membership of the DHRC and propaganda against the regime."


In a press statement released by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, the committee said, “The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2023 to Narges Mohammadi for her fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her fight to promote human rights and freedom for all."


“By awarding her this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to honor her courageous fight for human rights, freedom, and democracy in Iran”, the statement read.


The committee also referred to last year’s protests in Iran against the killing of a young woman named Mahsa Jina Amini. Mahsa died while she was in the custody of Iran’s morality police. The protests’ motto, ‘Zan – Zendegi – Azadi (Woman – Life – Freedom)’, “suitably expresses the dedication and work of Narges Mohammadi”, the committee said in the statement.


"I will never stop striving for the realization of democracy, freedom and equality,” Mohammadi said in a statement released through The New York Times.


Mohammadi’s family has also issued a statement after the announcement. “Although the years of her absence can never be compensated for, the reality is that the honor of recognizing Narges' efforts for peace is a source of solace for our indescribable suffering," a family statement said.


Who is Narges Mohammadi?


Mohammadi was born  in 1972 in Zanjan, Iran. Her family has been involved in political protests – beginning with the Iranian Revolution. The monarchy fell in 1979, leading to Iran becoming an Islamic republic.


She studied nuclear physics at the Imam Khomeini International University in the city of Qazvin. During those years, she wrote articles supporting women's rights in student magazines and newspapers. She was arrested at two meetings of the political student group Tashakkol Daaneshjuyi Roshangaran (Enlightened Student Group).


Later, Mohammadi worked as a  journalist for several reformist newspapers. She also published a book of political essays titled ‘The Reforms, the Strategy and the Tactics’. She joined the Defenders of Human Rights Center, headed by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi In 2003 later becoming the organization's vice president.


In 1999, she married Taghi Rahmani, who is also politically active. He was jailed for 14 years in Iran and currently lives in exile in France with the couple’s two children.


The award to Mohammadi has been applauded internationally, except Iran who denounced it by saying it is ‘biased and political action’.


"We note that the Nobel Peace Committee awarded the Peace Prize to a person who was convicted of repeated violations of laws and criminal acts," Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said in a statement.

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