This year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been conferred upon Narges Mohammadi, an activist for women’s and human rights who is currently incarcerated in Iran. Mohammadi has faced arrest by the Iranian government on 13 occasions, has been found guilty five times, and has been handed a sentence totaling 31 years in jail along with 154 lashes.
The Nobel Committee articulated that Mohammadi’s existence epitomizes the slogan “Woman – Life – Freedom,” which became the rallying cry of Iranian protests that broke out last year following the death of a young woman named Mahsa Amini. Amini passed away in custody after the morality police apprehended her for improperly wearing her headscarf.
Shortly after the public disclosure that Mohammadi had won the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize, a statement was released on her Instagram account from her family. In it, they extended congratulations to all Iranians, particularly the courageous women and girls of the country. The statement emphasized, “This extraordinary honor serves as enduring testimony to Narges Mohammadi’s relentless, civil, and peaceful endeavors to instigate change and liberty in Iran.”
Her family also expressed their sorrow that she is currently imprisoned, stating, “Regrettably, Narges is not with us to partake in this magnificent moment. Due to her unjust incarceration, we are unable to witness her joyful response to this incredible and honorable news.”
Mohammadi initiated her activism in the 1990s while she was still a young physics student. She was first taken into custody in 2011 for her involvement with jailed activists and their relatives. Her continued activism, which drew attention to the death penalty, torture, and sexual violence against political detainees in Iran, especially women, led to additional arrests.
In the previous year, Mohammadi, as a prominent figure among inmates, expressed her support for protesters who filled the streets of Iran after Amini’s death. Although prison authorities prevented her from receiving calls and visitors, she managed to covertly send out an article to The New York Times, which was published on the anniversary of Amini’s demise. In that article, she declared, “The more they imprison us, the more resilient we become.”
The Nobel prizes were established by Alfred Nobel, a 19th-century Swedish chemist most famous for his invention of dynamite. According to his will, there should be five categories of prizes: physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace. These awards are intended for “those who, in the preceding year, have bestowed the greatest good upon humanity.”