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The winner of the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize was announced on Friday by the Norwegian Nobel Committee. It went to Narges Mohammadi, an Iranian rights activist and journalist who is currently serving time in prison for her political advocacy. The committee awarded Mohammadi the prize for “her fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her fight to promote human rights and freedom for all.”
Last September, mass national protests began in the country following the death of Mahsa Amini – who died in morality police custody after she was brought in for not wearing her hijab appropriately. Women were mostly the driving force behind these demonstrations. The prize also goes to those women and girls, with the committee saying that it “recognizes the hundreds of thousands of people who, in the preceding year, have demonstrated against Iran’s theocratic regime’s policies of discrimination and oppression targeting women.”
Mohammadi herself has been fighting for women’s rights and anti-death penalty campaigns in Iran for about 30 years now. She’s worked with organizations like the Defenders of Human Rights Center, which is now banned in Iran. In 2011, Mohammadi was arrested for the first time for speaking out for jailed human rights activists and their families. Released on bail in 2015, she was put back in prison for being vocally against Iran’s death penalty. The death penalty in the country has been used for lesser crimes, like those related to drugs, anti-government activism or just being LGBTQ+.
Mohammadi is still jailed now, being held in the infamous Evin Prison for “spreading anti-state propaganda.” She’s serving a 10-year sentence. While there, she’s organized prison protests, written opinion essays and led workshops for her fellow inmates about their rights. It’s unlikely that receiving the Nobel Prize will help free her in any way, but Norwegian Nobel Committee chair Berit Reiss-Andersen called on Iran to release her for the prize ceremony on December 10.
Her family released a statement Mohammadi wrote, which says: “Standing alongside the brave mothers of Iran. I will continue to fight against the relentless discrimination, tyranny and gender-based oppression by the oppressive religious government until the liberation of women.”