Narges Mohammadi, a jailed Iranian women’s rights advocate, won the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday. The former vice president of the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC) organization was chosen by a panel of experts in Norway from a list of just over 350 nominations.
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 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 uMohammadi’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’s been held at Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, whose inmates include those with Western ties and political prisoners.
Narges Mohammadi has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for fighting oppression of women in Iran. (AP PHOTO)
Reiss-Andersen said Mohammadi had been imprisoned 13 times and convicted five times. In total, she has been sentenced to 31 years in prison. She is the 19th woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize and the second Iranian woman, after her colleague human rights activist Shirin Ebadi won the award in 2003.
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 over 22,000 others were arrested.
From behind bars, Mohammadi contributed an opinion piece for The New York Times, writing: “What the government may not understand is that the more of us they lock up, the stronger we become.” pon. We hope that it is an encouragement to continue the work in whichever form this movement finds to be fitting.”
In 2019, Mohammadi and fellow prisoner Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian national, announced plans to go on hunger strike in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, to protest against the denial of medical treatment. Zaghari-Ratcliffe was released by Iran in 2022 after the U.K. government settled a decades-old debt to Tehran, but Mohammadi remains inside Evin.
Last year’s prize was won by human rights activists from Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, in what was seen as a strong rebuke to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart and ally.
The prize can be awarded to individuals or organizations. Other previous winners include Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, Mikhail Gorbachev, Aung San Suu Kyi and the United Nations.
Unlike the other Nobel prizes that are selected and announced in Stockholm, founder Alfred Nobel decreed that the peace prize be decided and awarded in Oslo by the five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee.
The independent panel is appointed by the Norwegian parliament.
This year, the committee received 351 nominations — 259 for individuals and 92 for organizations. People who can make nominations include former Nobel Peace Prize winners, members of the committee, heads of states, members of parliaments and professors of political science, history and international law.
The peace prize is the fifth of this year’s prizes to be announced. A day earlier, the Nobel committee awarded Norwegian writer Jon Fosse the prize for literature. On Wednesday, the chemistry prize went to U.S. scientists Moungi Bawendi, Louis Brus and Alexei Ekimov.
The physics prize went Tuesday to French-Swedish physicist Anne L’Huillier, French scientist Pierre Agostini and Hungarian-born Ferenc Krausz. Hungarian-American Katalin Karikó and American Drew Weissman won the Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday.
Nobels season ends on Monday with the announcement of the winner of the economics prize, formally known as the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.
The prizes are handed out at awards ceremonies in December in Oslo and Stockholm. They carry a cash award of 11 million Swedish kronor (about $1 million). Winners also receive an 18-carat gold medal and diploma when they collect their Nobel Prizes at the award ceremonies in December.