10/06/2023, 19.37
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Nobel Peace Prize to Narges Mohammadi, jailed for speaking out for rights and freedoms

After announcing the prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee called on Iranian authorities to release the laureate so that she can receive in person. In a statement, the Committee notes that “the regime in Iran has arrested her 13 times, convicted her five times, and sentenced her to a total of 31 years in prison and 154 lashes.” In November 2022, she was handed down a 10-year sentence. For her family, the award is an “historic and profound moment.”

Tehran (AsiaNews) – The Nobel Peace Prize for 2023 goes to 51-year-old Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi, vice-president of the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC).

For the Norwegian Nobel Committee, the award celebrates her commitment and willingness to go to prison to uphold women's rights and personal freedoms, as well as opposition to oppression and obscurantism in Iran, which became front page news last year with the death of Mahsa Amini.

The journalist and dissident, who has also been fighting against the death penalty for years, is still locked up in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, on the outskirts of Tehran, where she is serving a new 10-year sentence.

As the Norwegian Nobel Committee explains, she was chosen from 305 candidates, 212 individuals and 93 organisations.

Jailed in May 2015, the long-time activist signed a petition to hold a referendum to end Iran’s theocracy.

At the start of COVID-19 pandemic, her already poor health took a turn for the worse after she contracted the SARS-CoV-2 virus in prison. However, despite the lack of proper medical care, as reported by the family, she recovered without serious consequences.

In October 2020, when she was released from prison and, she called for the release of “all prisoners”. This did not last; in November 2022, she was re-arrested for participating in a memorial ceremony for the victims of the violent repression of the 2019 street demonstrations.

Married to Taghi Rahmani (exiled in France and described by Reporters without Borders as “Iran’s most frequently jailed journalist”), the mother of two has fought for rights and democracy since her university days.

In her latest clash with Iran’s courts, she was convicted in a trial that lasted a few hours, and given a 10-year sentence for “acting against national security”. Previously, she had been convicted for “establishing and running the illegal splinter group" that opposed the death penalty.

In February 2020, her husband posted a message from her on Facebook ahead of parliamentary elections; in which she called for a peaceful boycott to express dissent, given that demonstrations were no longer allowed.

Her actions have been recognised internationally. In 2009, she received the Alexander Langer Award, for her courageous choices and independence of thought and strong social roots.

Narges Mohammadi suffers from pulmonary embolism and neurological problems, which have weakened her body, Reporters without Borders notes.

Three years ago, the then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet spoke out on her behalf, appealing to Iranian authorities to let her and other political prisoners out immediately after they released prison inmates because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Her family views the award as an “historic and profound moment for Iran's fight for freedom,” but they regret the fact that she cannot share this extraordinary moment.

In the note on the activist's Instagram page, which the family maintains, they address a thought to all Iranians, especially the women and girls who “have captivated the world with their bravery in fighting for freedom and equality.”

After her studies in physics, Narges Mohammadi became a professional engineer. She is the second Iranian woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize after Shirin Ebadi in 2003. She collaborated with the Defenders of Human Rights Center founded by Ebadi in 2001.

She was spokesperson and vice president of the Defenders of Human Rights Center; since 2008, she has been the president of the National Council for Peace, an Iranian anti-war and pro-human rights organisation.

Her price for the struggle has been prison, torture and separation from the family starting with her husband whom she has not seen for eight years.

The committee notes that “the regime in Iran has arrested her 13 times, convicted her five times, and sentenced her to a total of 31 years in prison and 154 lashes.” This has not stopped her from courageously fighting against the death penalty.

Today, after awarding her the prize, the Norwegian committee called on Iran to release her so that she can receive it in person. Despite her captivity, she has made her own the motto "Women, Life, Freedom” that became the rallying cry during the protests following Mahsa Amin’s death.

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