Why jailed Iranian activist, Mohammadi, was awarded Nobel Peace Prize

Narges Mohammadi

Narges Mohammadi

By Nehru Odeh

Jailed Iranian human rights activist, Narges Mohammadi has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2023.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee made the announcement in a press release shared on Friday.

The Committee said In the statement that Mohammadi was awarded the prize for her fight against the oppressive policies of the Iranian government against women in the country.

The award-making committee said the prize honoured all those behind recent unprecedented demonstrations in Iran and called for the release of Mohammadi, 51, who has campaigned for both women’s rights and the abolition of the death penalty.

The release read in part, “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. 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.”

The Norwegian Nobel Committee added that the 2023 Peace Prize was also dedicated to “hundreds of thousands of people who, in the preceding year, have demonstrated against the theocratic regime’s policies of discrimination and oppression targeting women.”

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This prize is first and foremost recognition of the very important work of a whole movement in Iran, with its undisputed leader, Narges Mohammadi,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

“If the Iranian authorities make the right decision, they will release her so that she can be present to receive this honour (in December), which is what we primarily hope for.

A jailbird, Mohammadi had been in and out of prison before her present incarceration. She was first arrested in 1998 and was imprisoned for a year.

She was again detained in 2010 for being a member of the Defenders of Human Rights Center. She was released after a month due to medical issues. She was again arrested a year later for “acting against national security” and sentenced to 11 years in prison.

After serving the jail term, she was released in 2012. But her activism against the death penalty in Iran led to another arrest and a ten-year prison sentence in 2015.

Yet she did not relent in her activism as she criticised the government for the alleged sexual abuse and ill-treatment she and other prisoners suffered during their time in prison.

In May 2021, she was arrested again after a criminal court in Tehran found her guilty of several charges one of which was “spreading propaganda against the system.” She was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison, 80 lashes, and two separate fines.

Mohammadi has remained in prison since then, despite several calls for her release. While still serving her sentence, she is the current vice president of the DHRC, which is headed by fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Shirin Ebadi.

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