Nobel Peace Prize 2023 awarded to Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi

Activist won for her fight against the oppression of women in Iran

Jailed Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi wins 2023 Nobel Peace Prize

Jailed Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi wins 2023 Nobel Peace Prize
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This year's Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to jailed Iranian activist, Narges Mohammadi, for her fight against the oppression of women in Iran.

Ms Mohammadi, 51, one of the country's leading human rights activists, has been arrested 13 times, convicted five times and sentenced to a total of 31 years in prison and 154 lashes.

Authorities last arrested her in November and she is currently serving multiple sentences at Tehran's Evin Prison amounting to about 12 years.

Charges include spreading propaganda against the state.

In a statement to The New York Times following her win, she vowed to remain in Iran and continue fighting for human rights.

“I will never stop striving for the realization of democracy, freedom and equality,” she said.

“Surely, the Nobel Peace Prize will make me more resilient, determined, hopeful and enthusiastic on this path, and it will accelerate my pace.”

Last month she contributed an opinion piece for the newspaper from behind bars in which she wrote: “What the government may not understand is that the more of us they lock up, the stronger we become.”

Ms Mohammadi was jailed for taking part in nationwide protests over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died after she was detained by the country’s morality police.

Ms Amini's death sparked one of the most intense challenges to Iran’s theocracy since its 1979 Islamic Revolution. More than 500 people were killed in a heavy security crackdown while over 22,000 others were arrested.

Ms Mohammadi's husband said the prize will embolden her fight for human rights.

Speaking from his home in Paris on Friday, Taghi Rahmani said: "But more importantly, this is in fact a prize for the woman, life and freedom movement.

"This prize is for all the people of Iran, for human rights activists.

"Narges and people like her have chosen this kind of life and, if they are supported, their motivation will increase to pursue their goals."

There was no immediate reaction to Ms Mohammadi's win from Iranian state television and other government-controlled media. Some semi-official news agencies acknowledged it in online messages, citing foreign press reports.

The UN human rights office said her award “highlights the courage and determination of Iranian women”.

It urged Tehran to free Ms Mohammadi and all human rights defenders jailed in Iran, saying "the women of Iran have been an inspiration for the world".

"Their courage and determination in the face of reprisals, intimidation, violence and detention has been remarkable. They have been harassed for what they wear and what they do not wear, and face increasingly stringent legal, social and economic measures against them," said the UN human rights office.

UN spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci said respect for women's rights had always been an "extremely important point" for the organisation.

"We stand for the rights of women around the world, including in Iran," she told a briefing on Friday.

"Narges Mohammadi's case is emblematic of the huge risks that women take to advocate for the rights of all Iranians. We call for her release and the release of all human rights defenders jailed in Iran."

She is the deputy head of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre, a non-governmental organisation led by Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Ms Mohammadi is the 19th woman to win the 122-year-old prize and the first since Maria Ressa of the Philippines won the award in 2021 jointly with Russia's Dmitry Muratov.

Hailing Ms Mohammadi as a “freedom fighter”, the head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee started her speech by saying, in Farsi, the words for “woman, life, freedom” – one of the slogans of protests against the Iranian government.

“The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize to Narges Mohammadi for her fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her fight to promote human rights and freedom for all,” Berit Reiss-Andersen said.

The award also recognised the hundreds of thousands of people who have demonstrated against Iranian discrimination and oppression of women, she said.

Earlier this year Ms Mohammadi received the the Unesco/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. In 2022, she also won the Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) Courage Prize. And in 2018 she was awarded the 2018 Andrei Sakharov Prize.

Last year the prize was won by human rights activists from Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, in what was seen as a strong rebuke to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart and ally.

Past winners include the late Nelson Mandela and Mikhail Gorbachev, former US president Barack Obama, Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi and the UN.

Unlike the other Nobel categories, which are selected and announced in Stockholm, founder Alfred Nobel decreed that the peace prize be decided and awarded in Oslo by the five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee.

Previous Nobel Peace Prize winners – in pictures

This is a developing story.

Updated: October 06, 2023, 6:13 PM