Imprisoned Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi won the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize for her fight against the “oppression of women” in her country and for promoting “human rights and freedom for all.”
In making the announcement on October 6, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said the prize also recognizes “the hundreds of thousands of people who, in the preceding year, have demonstrated against Iran’s theocratic regime’s policies of discrimination and oppression targeting women.”
“The motto adopted by the demonstrators – 'Woman – Life – Freedom' – suitably expresses the dedication and work of Narges Mohammadi,” the committee said.
In a statement to The New York Times, Mohammadi said the “global support and recognition of my human rights advocacy makes me more resolved, more responsible, more passionate and more hopeful.”
“I also hope this recognition makes Iranians protesting for change stronger and more organized,” the 51-year-old added. “Victory is near.”
From behind bars, Mohammadi contributed an opinion piece for the US newspaper in which she wrote: “What the government may not understand is that the more of us they lock up, the stronger we become.”
Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee who announced the prize in Oslo, said that the prize "is first and foremost a recognition of the very important work of a whole movement in Iran with its undisputed leader, Nargis Mohammadi.”
Reiss-Andersen said the committee hopes the prize “is an encouragement to continue the work in whichever form this movement finds to be fitting.” She also urged Iran to release Mohammadi in time for the prize ceremony on December 10.
As the award was widely applauded by the international community, with French President Emmanuel Macron saying that Mohammadi's "fight against the oppression of women in Iran and for human rights is essential and universal," Iran's semi-official Fars news agency dismissed the activist as someone who “persisted in creating tension and unrest and falsely claimed that she was beaten in prison.”
Mohammadi, an engineer by training, has been imprisoned multiple times over the past decade for her civil rights activities. She was most recently arrested in 2022 and sentenced to 10 years 9 months in prison on fabricated charges.
Currently incarcerated in Tehran's Evin prison, the freedom fighter has published in the past months numerous letters protesting prison conditions and violence against inmates.
The outspoken activist has received many awards and accolades, including the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize and the Andrei Sakharov Prize of the American Physical Society.
She is the deputy head of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, a non-governmental organization led by Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
The monthslong anti-establishment protests in Iran were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody for an alleged head-scarf violation. The authorities responded to the women-led protest movement with a brutal crackdown that has claimed the lives of more than 500 people. Thousands of others have been unlawfully arrested and prosecuted.
Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, director of the Norway-based Iran Human Rights organization, expressed hope that Mohammadi’s Nobel prize award “will draw the international community’s attention to the Iranian people’s struggle for their fundamental human rights.”
#Iran Human Rights welcomes the #NobelPeacePrize being awarded to HRD #NargesMohammadi and hopes it will draw the international community’s attention to the Iranian people’s struggle for their fundamental human rights. Statement by Director @iranhr:#WomanLifeFreedom… pic.twitter.com/QCwAfr1eu0— Iran Human Rights (IHR NGO) (@IHRights) October 6, 2023
Reporters Without Borders reiterated its call on the authorities in Iran to release the activist, who the Paris-based media freedom watchdog said “continues to report and denounce abuses against women while in detention.”
⚡️#Iran: Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Narges Mohammadi. RSF welcomes the news and calls on the 🇮🇷 authorities to release the journalist. Winner of the RSF Courage Prize 2022, she continues to report and denounce abuses against women while in detention. pic.twitter.com/XDDfFJDZJW— RSF (@RSF_inter) October 6, 2023
In Germany, parliament member Ye-One Rhie said the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize “goes out to you and your bravery - and to everybody fighting for women's rights all over the world. Especially in Iran. Please keep fighting. We see you.”
Congratulations, #NargesMohammadi. This prize goes out to you and your bravery - and to everybody fighting for women's rights all over the world. Especially in Iran. Please keep fighting. We see you. #WomensRightsAreHumanRights #NoPeaceWithoutWomen #JinJiyanAzadi #ZanZendegiAzadi https://t.co/D0hEkpBFWn— Ye-One Rhie (@YeOne_Rhie) October 6, 2023
According to Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, "In Paris and throughout the world, we will never stop proclaiming: Woman, Life, Freedom."
Many Iranian artists and activists also welcomed Mohammadi’s Nobel Peace Prize.
Taraneh Alidoosti, an actress who opposes compulsory hijab and a supporter of the Women, Life, Freedom movement, wrote on Instagram in English that Mohammadi is a “Freedom fighter and Women’s rights heroine.”
“For us, she sacrificed everything,” she added.
“Freedom will come," Alidoosti also wrote in Persian
Mohammadi’s family released a statement on her Instagram account, thanking “all Iranians, especially the courageous women and girls of Iran who have captivated the world with their bravery in fighting for freedom and equality.”
“This prestigious recognition serves as an enduring testament to…Narges Mohammadi’s tireless civic and peaceful work in bringing change and freedom to Iran,” the statement reads.