Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Iranian Activist recieves NOBLE PEACE PRIZE from Prison

photo of noble awardee nargis mohammadi Mohammadi, a jailed Iranian women's rights advocate, won the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize. Photo taken in 2021. 

“Woman, Life, Freedom,” the slogan adopted by Iranians to protest the unjust death of Mahsa Amini in 2022, is, according to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, the most suitable way to describe the work of the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Narges Mohammadi.

Mohammadi is the second Iranian woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, exactly 20 years after Shirin Ebadi was awarded the prize for her work to promote democracy and initiate legal reform under Islamic law in 2003. Mohammadi is the fourth Nobel Peace Prize laureate to be chosen while still incarcerated, joining the ranks of Aung San Suu Kyi and Ales Bialiatski.

According to the Nobel committee, Mohammadi has been arrested no less than 13 times. She has been convicted five times, sentenced to a total of 31 years in prison and 154 lashes. While she has been released on and off over the past four years, her work on behalf of women and her outspoken advocacy against the death penalty have made her a repeated target of the Islamist regime in Iran.

To this day, she remains behind bars in Iran’s most notorious prison for political detainees, Evin, which is located in the hills of northern Tehran.

I have been studying women’s rights, human rights and gender and sexual politics in Iran for more than two decades. I have had the opportunity to meet and work with Shirin Ebadi and dozens of women’s rights activists in Iran throughout my time conducting fieldwork on Iran’s sexual revolution. I have witnessed the bravery of Iranian women as they boldly agitated for change. Women’s activism in Iran is not just a recent phenomenon – they have been at the forefront of calls for change in Iran for more than a century.

Activism after the Iranian revolution

Mohammadi began finding her activist roots as a student in the late 1980s and early 1990s at Imam Khomeini International University, where she wrote articles decrying the repression women in Iran faced. Following the revolution in 1979, the Islamist regime that took power under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued mandatory veiling decrees and imposed harsh limitations on travel, child custody, inheritance and divorce, as it ushered in an era of harsh repression for women.

Mohammadi was born in Zanjan, Iran, but grew up just outside of Tehran in the suburb of Karaj. After graduating from high school, she moved to Qazvin, northwest of Tehran to attend university, where she studied physics and engineering. Upon her arrival, she quickly became an activist, co-founding a group called Tashakkol Daaneshjooei Roshangaraan – translated as Illuminating Student Group – where she wrote articles calling for accountability from the regime.

Her writings led to her arrest twice during her time as a college student. This marked the beginning of a decades-long passion for promoting human rights in Iran that landed her in jail repeatedly. In 2002, Mohammadi, along with the Ebadi, founded the Defenders of Human Rights Center, whose mandate is to defend the rights of women, political prisoners and ethnic minorities in Iran.

When she was awarded the Sakharov Prize in 2018, for “defence of human rights and freedom of thought,” Mohammadi called for ending the death penalty and injustices against women. She protested against the imprisonment and torture of political and civil rights activists, and she said she “will not be silent in the face of human rights violations.”

In 2007, when Shirin Ebadi established the National Peace Council for peaceful resistance to the death penalty, harsh family laws and poor treatment of prisoners, Mohammadi was elected president of the 83-member body

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