Iranian human rights activist Narges Mohammadi has been honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize for 2023.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee cited Mohammadi’s dedication to fighting for Iranian women’s rights as the driving force behind their decision.

Committee chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen acknowledged the personal cost Narges Mohammadi has paid for her activism during a press conference to reveal the laureate. She serves a 10-year sentence in Evin prison in Tehran, Iran, for advocating for human rights and freedom.

Berit Reiss-Andersen pointed out that the Nobel Prize recognises not only Narges Mohammadi’s remarkable determination but also the courage of hundreds of thousands of Iranians who have protested against the discriminatory and oppressive policies of the regime, especially those targeting women.

The announcement of Narges Mohammadi’s Nobel Peace Prize attracted celebration from Iranians and human rights activists worldwide.

Berit Reiss-Andersen issued a plea, calling upon Iran to release Narges Mohammadi from prison so that she could attend the prize ceremony in December.

The United Nations also paid tribute to the courage and determination of Iranian women, acknowledging their inspirational role in the global fight for justice and human rights.

In 2020, Narges Mohammadi revealed her dedication to advancing women’s rights in Iran and her broader commitment to the cause of human rights. She emphasised the importance of supporting human rights efforts and actions to achieve freedom and justice in Iran and worldwide.

One of her primary goals was establishing an institution that could ensure people’s rights. She firmly believed that collective efforts within Iran, with recognition and support from outside the country, could create a body guaranteeing human rights in any society, including Iran.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who shared a prison experience with Narges Mohammadi until her release in March 2022, expressed her happiness for her friend upon hearing about the Nobel Peace Prize. Zaghari-Ratcliffe described Mohammadi as an inspirational figure and a pillar of strength for the women in the female ward of Evin prison. She highlighted Mohammadi’s fearless fight against violations of women’s rights, the use of solitary confinement, and executions in Iran’s judicial system. Zaghari-Ratcliffe believed this award symbolically represented every Iranian woman who has suffered injustice in Iran.

French President Emmanuel Macron characterised the award as a strong choice for a freedom fighter who had endured the harsh realities and cruelty of the Iranian regime.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has endured severe legal repercussions throughout her activism. Narges Mohammadi has been arrested on 13 occasions for her outspoken advocacy for human rights and women’s rights.

She has faced five convictions. She has been handed a cumulative prison sentence of 31 years. She was sentenced to 154 lashes. It is uncertain whether this punishment was implemented. 

In December, while incarcerated, Narges Mohammadi penned a letter to expose the grim realities faced by Iranian women detained during protests. Her accounts detailed the sexual and physical abuse they endured.

These abuses came to the forefront during the protests ignited by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody in September 2022. What began as a localised incident soon spread across Iran, with protesters voicing demands from greater freedoms to calls for the state’s overthrow.

Images of Iranian women courageously setting their headscarves on fire during these protests garnered global attention.

In response to the protests, the Iranian government launched a crackdown, which caused a significant reduction in their intensity. 

Narges Mohammadi currently holds the position of deputy head at the Defenders of Human Rights Centre, an organisation dedicated to promoting and protecting human rights in Iran.