Jailed Iranian Activist Wins Nobel Peace Prize

    06 October 2023

    Imprisoned Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday. Mohammadi was recognized for women's rights and democracy, and against the death penalty.

    Fifty-one-year-old Mohammadi has kept up her activism although she has been arrested many times by Iranian officials and has been sentenced to years in prison. She has remained a leader of nationwide, women-led protests. Major protests followed the death last year of a 22-year-old woman in police custody.

    Berit Reiss-Andersen is the chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. She said the prize is "a recognition of the very important work of a whole movement in Iran with its undisputed leader, Narges Mohammadi."

    FILE - A handout photo provided by the Narges Mohammadi Foundation on October 2, 2023, shows an undated, unlocated photo of Iranian rights activist Narges Mohammadi.
    FILE - A handout photo provided by the Narges Mohammadi Foundation on October 2, 2023, shows an undated, unlocated photo of Iranian rights activist Narges Mohammadi.

    Reiss-Andersen started the announcement with the words "Woman, Life, Freedom" in Farsi — the slogan of the protest movement in Iran. She said the committee hopes to send a message to women around the world with the award. She also urged Iran to release Mohammadi in time for the prize ceremony on December 10.

    Reiss-Andersen said Mohammadi has been imprisoned 13 times. She was imprisoned for the recent protests over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by Iran's morality police for wearing a loose headscarf. More than 500 people were killed and over 22,000 arrested in a security campaign against the protests.

    Last month, Mohammadi wrote from Tehran's Evin Prison to The New York Times. She wrote, "What the government may not understand is that the more of us they lock up, the stronger we become."

    Her husband Taghi Rahmani lives in Paris with their two children. Rahmani, who has not seen his wife for at least 11 years, could not reach her after the announcement. He told the Associated Press that his wife always says: "Every single award will make me more intrepid, more resilient and more brave for realizing human rights, freedom, civil equality and democracy."

    Their son, Ali Rahmani, noted that the prize was not just for his mother. He said, "Iranian men and women have been fighting for over a year. This prize is for the entire population, for the whole struggle from the beginning since the Islamic government came to power."

    There was no official reaction from the Iranian government. But the unofficial news agency Fars said Mohammadi had "received her prize from the Westerners" for her actions "against the national security."

    Mohammadi is the 19th woman to win the 122-year-old prize. It also marks the fifth time that the Peace Prize has been given to someone who is in prison or under house arrest. Past winners include Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela.

    The five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee chooses the Nobel Peace Prize winner, and the award is presented in Oslo, unlike all the other Nobel Prizes.

    I'm Jill Robbins.

    Hai Do wrote this report for VOA Learning English from Associated Press and Reuters sources.


    Words in This Story

    custody –n. the state of being detained by law enforcement

    slogan –n. a word or phrase that is repeated that is used by a business or activist group to sell something or call people to action

    headscarf –n. a head covering for women, especially one used in Muslim countries

    lock up –v. (phrasal) to put someone in jail

    intrepid –adj. not fearful, brave

    resilient –adj. able to become healthy again after being sick or hurt