Mohammadi wins Nobel Peace Prize for defending women’s rights in Iran

Jailed Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for defending women’s rights in Iran and campaigning for the abolition of the country’s death penalty.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee, in a statement, said it awarded the prize to Mohammadi “for her fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her fight to promote human rights and freedom for all.”

The 51-year-old activist has been arrested 13 times and sentenced to a total of 31 years in prison. Berit Reiss-Andersen, the committee’s chair who announced the prize in Oslo, told reporters it hopes the Iranian authorities “will make the right decision” and release Mohammadi so she can attend the awards ceremony on Dec. 10.

Mohammadi has struggled “for freedom of expression and the right of independence, and against rules requiring women to remain out of sight and to cover their bodies,” the committee said, explaining that Iranian authorities cracked down on those who joined peaceful protests triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini, a young Kurdish-Iranian woman, in September last year.

Amini was in the custody of the Iran’s morality police after she was arrested for allegedly wearing her headscarf improperly.

Mohammadi, who worked as an engineer and a columnist at reform-minded newspapers in Iran, became involved with the Defenders of Human Rights Center in Tehran, an organization founded by another Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner, Shirin Ebadi, in 2003, the committee said.

The activist has been immersed in the campaign against capital punishment in Iran, where more than 860 prisoners have been put to death since January 2022.

She has also opposed authorities’ systematic use of torture and sexual violence against political prisoners, especially women, that is practiced in Iranian prisons, according to the committee.

After the protests last year became known to political prisoners in Evin prison in Tehran including Mohammadi, she voiced support for the protesters and organized solidarity actions among her fellow inmates, the committee said.

The prize this year recognized hundreds of thousands of people who have demonstrated against the Iran’s policies that discriminate against women, it added.

By Nadeem Faisal Baiga