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Nobel Peace Prize: Know who is Narges Mohammadi, the Iranian activist jailed for 31 years

Mohammadi's recognition by the Nobel committee comes after a year of huge upheaval in Iran, sparked by Amini's death, which swelled into nationwide protests lasting months

Nobel Peace Prize: Know who is Narges Mohammadi, the Iranian activist jailed for 31 years

Narges Mohammadi (IANS)

TEHRAN: Jailed Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi, who has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2023 for her fight against the oppression of women, has become synonymous with the battle for human rights in Iran.

However, the 'brave struggle' of Mohammadi has come at tremendous personal cost, CNN reported on Friday.

Mohammadi (51), who has been a defiant voice for women's rights in Iran, has been sentenced to more than 30 years in prison and has been banned from seeing her husband and children.

"Altogether, the Iranian regime has arrested the activist 13 times, convicted her five times, and sentenced her to a total of 31 years in prison, and 154 lashes," Norwegian Nobel Committee chair Berit Reiss-Andersen said at the announcement ceremony. Although it is not certain whether Mohammadi has got to know about her award, her family's reaction to the recognition has been positive.

ALSO READ: 2023 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi

Mohammadi's friends and family told CNN that those detained in Iran's Evin Prison are not allowed to receive calls on Thursdays and Fridays.

In the statement, Mohammadi said she would stay in Iran to continue her activism "even if I spend the rest of my life in prison."

"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," CNN quoted Mohammadi as saying.

Her husband, Taghi Rahmani, has said that the prize is "for all the people of Iran." Rahmani, a fellow activist and former political prisoner who served a total of 14 years in regime jails lives in exile in France with their twin children.

"This prize is not just for Narges; it is for all the people of Iran. A movement in which Iranian women and men took to the streets, stood for months, and fought to show that they will continue to struggle for democracy and civil equality," CNN quoted Rahmani as saying.

In a separate statement to CNN, Mohammadi's family said, "Although the years of her absence can never be compensated for us, the reality is that the honour of recognizing Narges' efforts for peace is a source of solace for our indescribable suffering.

"It has been more than eight and a half years since she has seen her children, and she has not heard their voices for over a year. All of this signifies what she has endured on the path to realizing her aspirations. Therefore, for us, who know that the Nobel Peace Prize will aid her in achieving her goals, this day is a blessed day," the family statement added.

Notably, Mohammadi's recognition by the Nobel committee comes after a year of huge upheaval in Iran, sparked by Amini's death, which swelled into nationwide protests lasting months, CNN reported. Reiss-Andersen described the unrest as "the largest political demonstrations against Iran's theocratic regime since it came to power in 1979."

They were met by a brutal government crackdown. "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 custody," CNN quoted Andersen as saying.

Last month marked the one-year anniversary of Amini's death. Videos showed further demonstrations throughout multiple cities in Iran, including the capital Tehran, Mashad, Ahvaz, Lahijan, Arak and the Kurdish city of Senandaj, as per CNN.

Many of the protesters shouted "Woman, Life, Freedom," and others chanted slogans against Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, CNN reported. Mohammadi obtained a degree in physics at Imam Khomeini International University in the 1990s.

During her initial days, she worked as an engineer, while writing columns for reformist Iranian newspapers, Berit Reiss-Andersen said at Friday's news conference.

In 2003, she joined the Defenders of Human Rights Center in Iran, an organization founded by the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi.

It was in 2011 when Mohammadi was arrested for the first time and convicted in part because of her membership in the Defenders of Human Rights Center. After being released on bail two years later, Mohammadi began to campaign against the use of the death penalty, CNN reported.

"Iran has long been among the countries that execute the highest proportion of their inhabitants annually," the Nobel committee acknowledged. As per CNN, Iran has given death punishments to more than 860 prisoners, since January last year.

Mohammadi was arrested and sentenced again in 2015 for her activism against capital punishment. But her work continued from inside Evin, as she began to oppose human rights abuses committed against political prisoners.

On the other hand, since the anniversary of Amini's death, Iran has continued its crackdown on women's rights. Its parliament passed draconian new legislation in September, imposing much harsher penalties on women who breach hijab laws, CNN reported.

The so-called 'Hijab bill', which will be enacted for a three-year trial period, sets out various regulations around the wearing of clothing, which if violated can carry up to 10 years in prison. UN experts said the new law could amount to "gender apartheid."

"Authorities appear to be governing through systemic discrimination with the intention of suppressing women and girls into total submission," CNN quoted the experts as saying.

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