In a historic moment, Narges Mohammadi, one of Iran's most prominent women's rights advocates, has been awarded the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize for her unwavering dedication to democracy, freedom, and equality within the confines of an Iranian prison. This recognition comes as a powerful testament to her relentless pursuit of justice, women's rights, and human rights in Iran, despite facing multiple sentences totaling around 12 years' imprisonment.
"I will never stop striving for the realization of democracy, freedom, and equality," Mohammadi declared in a prewritten statement released after the announcement. "Surely, the Nobel Peace Prize will make me more resilient, determined, hopeful, and enthusiastic on this path, and it will accelerate my pace."
Narges Mohammadi has campaigned for women's rights, the abolition of the death penalty, and the improvement of prison conditions in Iran. Her activism has been a beacon of hope for countless Iranian women who have suffered injustices. She has exposed nationwide protests and violence against prisoners and detainees, even from behind bars.
She is serving multiple sentences in Tehran’s Evin prison amounting to about 12 years’ imprisonment, according to the rights organization Front Line Defenders, the latest of the many periods she has been detained. Charges against her include spreading propaganda against the state.
The Nobel Committee awarded Narges Mohammadi for her relentless fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her dedication to promoting human rights and freedom for all. This recognition serves as a tribute to the Woman, Life, Freedom movement in Iran, which challenged the clerical establishment last year but was subsequently suppressed, resulting in the detention and deaths of numerous activists. The movement was sparked by the tragic death of Mahsa Amini, a young Kurdish woman who died in police custody after being arrested for not wearing the hijab.
Narges Mohammadi is also the Deputy Head of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, a non-governmental organization led by Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Her courageous advocacy has come at great personal cost, including separation from her family, who were forced to leave Iran.
Her husband, Taghi Rahmani, who has been living in exile with their children since her imprisonment in 2015, expressed his optimism regarding the impact of the prize on her ongoing struggle and the larger movement she represents he stated “This Nobel prize will embolden Narges’s fight for human rights, but more importantly, this is in fact a prize for the Woman, Life, Freedom and movement.
Narges Mohammadi's 17-year-old son, Ali Rahmani, who has not seen his mother in eight years, expressed his pride. He stated that he was “very, very proud of my mother, very happy”, as he spoke at a Paris news conference attended by his father and twin sister. “The government is trying to break the prisoners in Iran,” he said. “This prize is an award for her struggle in Iran.”
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights highlighted the courage and determination of Iranian women in the face of repression, intimidation, violence, and detention, emphasizing the harassment they face for their choices in clothing and lifestyle.
The Iranian-born actress and human rights activist, Nazanin Boniadi, celebrated the Nobel Institute's recognition of Narges Mohammadi, stating that it provides inspiration to a new generation of Iranians who are fighting for freedom and human rights.
However, Iran's response to the award was less celebratory. The Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, Nasser Kanani, called the decision "biased and political" and accused the Nobel Committee of disregarding Mohammadi's criminal convictions. Iran's state news agency, IRNA, accused the Nobel Committee of politicizing human rights and deviating from its original purpose.
Despite the challenges she faces, Narges Mohammadi continues to be a symbol of hope and resilience for women in Iran and the global human rights community. She became the second Iranian woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, following Shirin Ebadi, and is the 19th woman to receive the award in its 122-year history. The Nobel Peace Prize, valued at 11 million Swedish crowns (£819,000), will be presented in Oslo on December 10, on the death anniversary of Alfred Nobel, the founder of the Nobel Prizes.
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