Monday, June 17, 2024

Jailed Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi wins 2023 Nobel Peace Prize

Narges Mohammadi, a jailed Iranian women’s rights advocate, won the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday. the announcement began with the popular Iranian slogan “Zan – Zendegi – Azadi” which meant “Woman – Life – Freedom”.

She is currently serving a 10-year jail sentence in Tehran’s Evin Prison for “spreading anti-state propaganda.”

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said it “decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2023 to Narges Mohammadi for her fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her fight to promote human rights and freedom for all. Her brave struggle has come with tremendous personal costs. Altogether, the regime has arrested her 13 times, convicted her five times, and sentenced her to a total of 31 years in prison and 154 lashes.”

In September 2022 a young Kurdish woman, Mahsa Jina Amini, was killed while in the custody of the Iranian morality police. Her killing triggered the largest political demonstrations against Iran’s theocratic regime since it came to power in 1979.

Under the slogan “Woman – Life – Freedom”, hundreds of thousands of Iranians took part in peaceful protests against the authorities’ brutality and oppression of women. The regime cracked down hard on the protests: more than 500 demonstrators were killed. Thousands were injured, including many who were blinded by rubber bullets fired by the police. At least 20,000 people were arrested and held in regime custody.

In the 1990s, as a young physics student, Narges Mohammadi was already distinguishing herself as an advocate for equality and women’s rights. After concluding her studies, she worked as an engineer as well as a columnist in various reform-minded newspapers. In 2003 she became involved with the Defenders of Human Rights Center in Tehran, an organisation founded by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi. In 2011 Ms Mohammadi was arrested for the first time and sentenced to many years of imprisonment for her efforts to assist incarcerated activists and their families.

Two years later, after her release on bail, Ms Mohammadi immersed herself in a campaign against use of the death penalty. Iran has long been among the countries that execute the highest proportion of their inhabitants annually. Just since January 2022, more than 860 prisoners have been punished by death in Iran.

Her activism against the death penalty led to the re-arrest of Ms Mohammadi in 2015, and to a sentence of additional years behind walls. Upon her return to prison, she began opposing the regime’s systematic use of torture and sexualised violence against political prisoners, especially women, that is practised in Iranian prisons.

In 2022, the Centre for Civil Liberties (Ukraine), Memorial (Russia) and Ales Bialiatski (Belarus) bagged the prestigious award. The amount of cash accompanying the Peace Prize jumped 10% this year to about $1m.

This year, there were 351 candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize, 259 individuals and 92 organisations. It is the eighth straight year with more than 300 nominees.

The award is named after Alfred Nobel, a 19th-century businessman and chemist from Sweden who invented dynamite. According to Nobel, the Peace Prize will be awarded “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”.

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