Jailed women’s rights campaigner Narges Mohammadi is awarded Nobel Peace Prize

Imprisoned activist Narges Mohammadi, who has campaigned for women’s rights, democracy and against the death penalty in Iran for years, won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.

Ms Mohammadi, 51, has done her work despite facing numerous arrests and spending years behind bars for her activism.

“This prize is first and foremost a recognition of the very important work of a whole movement in Iran with with its undisputed leader, Narges Mohammadi,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee who announced the prize 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.”

Nobel Peace Prize
Narges Mohammadi, centre, with previous Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, left, in Tehran (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

She added: “I also hope this recognition makes Iranians protesting for change stronger and more organized. Victory is near.”

Ms Mohammadi’s most recent incarceration began when she was detained in 2021 after she attended a memorial for a person killed in nationwide 2019 protests sparked by an increase in gasoline prices.

She has been held at Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, whose inmates include those with Western ties and political prisoners.

Nobel Peace Prize
Berit Reiss-Andersen announces the Peace Prize winner for 2023 in Oslo (Terje Pedersen/NTB Scanpix via AP)

She is the 19th woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize and the second Iranian woman, after human rights activist Shirin Ebadi won the award in 2003.

Ms Mohammadi was behind bars for the recent protests over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody.

That sparked one of the most intense challenges ever to Iran’s theocracy. More than 500 people were killed in a heavy security crackdown while more than 22,000 others were arrested.

Sweden Nobel
The prize winner receives a medal in addition to a cash prize (Angela Weiss/Pool Photo via AP)

“What the government may not understand is that the more of us they lock up, the stronger we become,” she wrote.

There was no immediate reaction from Iranian state television and other state-controlled media.

Some semi-official news agencies acknowledged Ms Mohammadi’s win in online messages, citing foreign press reports.

Before being jailed, Ms Mohammadi was vice president of the banned Defenders of Human Rights Centre in Iran. She has been close to Ms Ebadi, who founded the centre.

In 2018, Mohammadi, an engineer, was awarded the Andrei Sakharov Prize.

The Nobel Prizes carry a cash award of 11 million Swedish kronor (about £800,000). Winners also receive an 18-carat gold medal and diploma at the award ceremonies in December.

The winner of the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize is chosen by a panel of experts in Norway from a list of just more than 350 nominations.

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