Narges Mohammadi, an Iranian human rights worker who is in jail, won the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee said in a statement that Ms. Mohammadi, 51, was given the award for her work to end the abuse of women in Iran.
This fight has cost her a “tremendous personal cost,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, head of the committee.
Right now, Ms. Mohammadi is spending 10 years in prison in Tehran, Iran’s capital, at the dreaded Evin prison.
She said that Ms. Mohammadi received the prestigious award for “her fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her fight to promote human rights and freedom for all” at the ceremony in Oslo on Friday.
“Woman, life, freedom” was the theme of the recent large-scale protests in Iran, which she used to start her speech.
She went on to say that the prize was a reward for the hundreds of thousands of Iranians who have marched against the “theocratic regime’s policies of discrimination and oppression targeting women” over the past year. She said that the new Nobel Prize winner led this movement.
This award will be cheered on by millions of Iranians and people who work for human rights all over the world.
The Nobel committee’s decision also gives the Iranian government a very strong message that it doesn’t agree with them.
At the event, Ms. Reiss-Andersen also asked Iran to free Ms. Mohammadi so she could go to the December prize gathering.
“If the Iranian authorities make the right decision they will release her so she can be present to receive this honour, which is what we primarily hope for.”
However, it looks very unlikely that the activist will be able to claim her win.
The UN said the award showed “how brave and determined the women of Iran are and how they are an inspiration to the world.”
A British-Iranian woman named Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe spent time in Evin jail with Ms. Mohammadi until she was freed in March 2022. She was happy for her friend.
“It makes me sad.” She helped all of us in Evin a lot. Narges is an example and a rock for the women in the female ward in Evin because she is not afraid to fight against violence against women, the use of solitary confinement, and executions in Iran’s legal system.
“This award belongs to every single Iranian woman who, one way or another, has been and remains a victim of injustice in Iran.”
At the same time, French President Emmanuel Macron said that the Nobel committee’s choice was “a strong choice for a freedom fighter who each time faced the reality… the cruelty of this regime, including suffering several years in prison and terrible sentences.”
Besides the 31 years she is serving now, Ms. Mohammadi has been arrested 13 times, found guilty five times, and sent to prison a total of 31 times. Also, she was given 154 lashes as a punishment, but it’s not clear if they were carried out.
In December of last year, she wrote to the BBC from prison to give horrifying information about how Iranian women who were being held for protests were being raped and abused.
She said that these kinds of attacks were happening more often during the protests, which started when 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died while being held by police in September 2022.
Later, the unrest spread across the country, with people calling for everything from more freedoms to the end of the government.
The world was shocked when pictures of Iranian women proudly setting their headscarves on fire went viral.
The protests have mostly stopped because the Iranian government put down the protests with cruel force.
It is her job to help run the Defenders of Human Rights Center.
Speaking to the BBC in 2020, Ms. Mohammadi talked about why she was working so hard to improve women’s rights in Iran.
“In my opinion, supporting human rights efforts and actions aimed at achieving freedom and justice anywhere in the world, whether in Iran or any other country, is very important and very heart-warming,” she stated.
She said that her main goal was to build an organization that would protect people’s rights.
“If all our efforts in Iran, together with all the recognition and support from outside of Iran leads to the creation of a body that would guarantee human rights in any society, including Iran, we can say that we will be able to solve problems relating to human rights,” she told us.
She was named one of the BBC’s 100 Women last year. The list is a well-known collection of 100 amazing and powerful women from around the world.