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Home » Iranian activist, Narges Mohammadi wins Nobel peace prize

Iranian activist, Narges Mohammadi wins Nobel peace prize

Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi, currently serving time in prison for her unwavering dedication to women’s rights, democracy, and opposition to the death penalty in Iran, has been honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize.

Despite enduring multiple arrests and several years behind bars for her activism, Mohammadi, 51, has remained steadfast in her mission.

“The Nobel Peace Prize is, first and foremost, a recognition of the crucial work carried out by an entire movement in Iran, with Nargis Mohammadi as its undisputed leader,” stated Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, during the prize announcement in Oslo. “The impact of the prize is not for the Nobel committee to decide upon. We hope that it is an encouragement to continue the work in whichever form this movement finds to be fitting.”

Mohammadi’s most recent arrest occurred in 2021 when she attended a memorial for a person killed during nationwide protests in 2019, triggered by an increase in gasoline prices. She has been incarcerated at Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison, housing Western detainees and political prisoners.

Reiss-Andersen revealed that Mohammadi has been imprisoned 13 times and convicted five times, resulting in a total sentence of 31 years in prison. She becomes the 19th woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and the second Iranian woman after human rights activist Shirin Ebadi, who won the award in 2003.

Mohammadi’s most recent imprisonment was connected to protests surrounding the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody, leading to one of the most significant challenges to Iran’s theocratic regime. More than 500 people were killed, and over 22,000 others were arrested during the ensuing security crackdown.

Even from her jail cell, Mohammadi made her voice heard through an opinion piece in The New York Times, stating, “What the government may not understand is that the more of us they lock up, the stronger we become.”

While there was no immediate reaction from Iranian state-controlled media, some semiofficial news agencies acknowledged Mohammadi’s Nobel Prize win, citing foreign press reports.

Before her incarceration, Mohammadi served as vice president of the banned Defenders of Human Rights Center in Iran and had a close association with Shirin Ebadi, the center’s founder. In 2018, Mohammadi, an engineer, received the Andrei Sakharov Prize.

PEN America, an organization advocating for freedom of speech, previously honoured Mohammadi with its PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award. Suzanne Nossel, CEO, applauded the Nobel Peace Prize decision, saying it pays tribute to the courage of Mohammadi and countless other women and girls who have demonstrated against Iran’s regime, often at great personal risk.

The Nobel Peace Prize carries a cash award of 11 million Swedish kronor (approximately $1 million), along with an 18-carat gold medal and diploma presented during the award ceremonies in December.

The Nobel Peace Prize is selected by a panel of experts in Norway from a list of over 350 nominations. In the previous year, the prize was awarded to human rights activists from Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia, seen as a rebuke to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart.

Past recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize include Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, Mikhail Gorbachev, Aung San Suu Kyi, and the United Nations.

Read also: Jon Olav Fosse wins 2023 Nobel prize for literature

In contrast to the other Nobel prizes, which are chosen and announced in Stockholm, the Nobel Peace Prize is decided and awarded in Oslo by the five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee, appointed by the Norwegian parliament.

This year’s Nobel Prize announcements began with the literature prize awarded to Norwegian writer Jon Fosse. Subsequently, the chemistry prize went to U.S. scientists Moungi Bawendi, Louis Brus, and Alexei Ekimov. The physics prize was awarded to French-Swedish physicist Anne L’Huillier, French scientist Pierre Agostini, and Hungarian-born Ferenc Krausz. Hungarian-American Katalin Karikó and American Drew Weissman received the Nobel Prize in medicine.

The final announcement next week will unveil the winner of the economics prize, formally known as the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.

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