Narges Mohammadi is honoured for her fight against ‘the oppression of women’ in Iran at ‘tremendous personal costs’
Narges Mohammadi, a jailed Iranian women’s rights advocate, has won the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize for her courageous struggle against the oppression of women in Iran and relentless fight for social reform.
While behind bars, she was awarded the prestigious prize on Friday for her efforts “to promote human rights and freedom for all”, according to the Norwegian Nobel Committee. “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,” Berit Reiss-Andersen, head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, said in Oslo during the announcement.
Mohammadi, 51, is one of Iran’s leading human rights activists who has campaigned for women’s rights and the abolition of the death penalty. She is currently serving multiple sentences in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison amounting to about 12 years imprisonment, according to the Front Line Defenders rights organisation, one of the many periods she has been detained behind bars. Charges include spreading propaganda against the state.
Mohammadi is the deputy head of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, a non-governmental organisation led by Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. She told The New York Times after the win she would never stop striving for democracy and equality – even if that meant staying in prison. “I will continue to fight against the relentless discrimination, tyranny and gender-based oppression by the oppressive religious government until the liberation of women,” the newspaper quoted her as saying in a statement. “I also hope this recognition makes Iranians protesting for change stronger and more organised. Victory is near.”
Tehran accused the Nobel committee of meddling and politicising the issue of human rights. Peace Committee is political move in line with the interventionist and anti-Iranian policies of some European governments,” Nasser Kanaani, a spokesperson for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, said. “The Nobel Peace committee has awarded a prize to a person convicted of repeated law violations and criminal acts, and we condemn this as biased and politically motivated,” he added in a statement carried by state media.
Mohammadi’s award comes after a wave of protests swept Iran following the death in custody a year ago of a young Iranian Kurd, Mahsa Amini, arrested for violating Iran’s strict dress rules for women. Iran is ranked 143rd out of 146 countries on the World Economic Forum’s gender equality ranking. Tehran rejects accusations of discrimination against women. Mohammadi is the 19th woman to win the 122-year-old prize. The Norwegian Nobel Committee picked this year’s winner from 351 candidates, including 259 individuals and 92 organizations.
Last year, the prize went to human rights advocate Ales Bialiatski from Belarus, the Russian human rights group Memorial and the Ukrainian human rights organisation Center for Civil Liberties.
The winners had for many years promoted the right to criticise power and protect the fundamental rights of citizens, the committee said at the time, which came during the first year of Russia’s all-out war in Ukraine.
The Peace Prize is the only one of the Nobel prizes to be awarded in Norway’s capital Oslo, rather than Sweden’s capital Stockholm.