Narges Mohammadi for Her Courageous Fight for Women’s Rights and Freedom in Iran
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has announced the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2023. This prestigious award has been granted to Narges Mohammadi in recognition of her unwavering dedication to combatting the oppression of women in Iran and her relentless efforts to promote human rights and freedom for all. Mohammadi’s fearless struggle has come at great personal cost, as she has been arrested 13 times, convicted five times, and sentenced to a staggering 31 years in prison along with 154 lashes. As of now, Ms. Mohammadi remains incarcerated.
A Historic and Profound Moment for Iran's Fight for Freedom: The Distinguished 2023 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Narges Mohammadi, Iranian human rights activist, for her unwavering dedication to fighting for human rights and women's rights over the past three decades. pic.twitter.com/bMFEdRZRZl— Narges Mohamadi (@freenargesmhmd) October 6, 2023
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The catalyst for international attention to the dire situation in Iran occurred in September 2022, when a young Kurdish woman named Mahsa Jina Amini tragically lost her life while in the custody of the Iranian morality police. This tragic incident sparked the largest political demonstrations against Iran’s theocratic regime since its establishment in 1979. These protests, held under the banner of “Woman – Life – Freedom,” witnessed the participation of hundreds of thousands of Iranians who peacefully voiced their opposition to the authorities’ brutal treatment of women. However, the regime responded with brutal force, resulting in the deaths of over 500 demonstrators, numerous injuries, and the arrest of at least 20,000 people.
The powerful motto adopted by the protesters, “Woman – Life – Freedom,” perfectly encapsulates the tireless dedication and advocacy of Narges Mohammadi:
Woman: Ms. Mohammadi has been a staunch advocate for women, fighting against the systematic discrimination and oppression they face.
Life: She supports women’s struggle for the right to lead full and dignified lives, even in the face of persecution, imprisonment, torture, and death.
Narges Mohammadi is a champion of freedom of expression, independence, and the removal of restrictive rules that demand women remain hidden and veiled. The demands for freedom expressed by the demonstrators extend beyond just women and encompass the entire population.
Ms. Mohammadi’s journey as an activist began in the 1990s when she was a young physics student, already distinguishing herself as an advocate for equality and women’s rights. After completing her studies, she worked as an engineer and wrote columns for various reform-minded newspapers. In 2003, she became associated with the Defenders of Human Rights Center in Tehran, an organization founded by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi. In 2011, Ms. Mohammadi was arrested for the first time, serving many years in prison for her efforts to assist incarcerated activists and their families.
Following her release on bail two years later, Narges Mohammadi passionately campaigned against the use of the death penalty in Iran, a country known for its high rate of executions. In just January 2022, more than 860 prisoners were executed in Iran, highlighting the urgency of her advocacy.
Her resolute stance against the death penalty resulted in her re-arrest in 2015 and additional years of imprisonment. Upon returning to prison, she took up the cause of opposing the regime’s systematic use of torture and sexualized violence against political prisoners, especially women, within Iranian prisons.
During last year’s wave of protests, news of the demonstrations reached political prisoners, including those held inside the notorious Evin prison in Tehran. Ms. Mohammadi once again assumed a leadership role, expressing solidarity with the protesters and organizing actions among her fellow inmates. Despite facing stricter conditions, including restrictions on calls and visitors, she managed to smuggle out an article that was published by The New York Times on the one-year anniversary of Mahsa Jina Amini’s tragic death. The article conveyed a powerful message: “The more of us they lock up, the stronger we become.” From her captivity, Narges Mohammadi has played an instrumental role in ensuring that the protests continue to resonate.
Narges Mohammadi is not just a woman but also a fervent advocate for human rights and a champion of freedom. By awarding her this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, The Norwegian Nobel Committee aims to honor her courageous fight for human rights, freedom, and democracy in Iran. This recognition also pays tribute to the hundreds of thousands of individuals who, in the preceding year, demonstrated against the theocratic regime’s discriminatory and oppressive policies, particularly those targeting women. The Nobel Committee emphasizes that embracing equal rights for all is essential to achieving the global fraternity envisioned by Alfred Nobel. The award to Narges Mohammadi follows a longstanding tradition in which the Nobel Committee has recognized individuals working tirelessly to advance social justice, human rights, and democracy – crucial prerequisites for lasting peace.