Imprisoned Iranian women’s rights activist Narges Mohammadi celebrated winning this year’s Nobel Peace Prize in her Iranian prison cell with fellow detainees, her family said on October 7.
“Narges learned she had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize yesterday afternoon (October 6) from messages sent from the men’s unit, where they have easier access to telephones on Fridays,” family members told AFP. “Narges and her cellmates erupted in joy and celebrated this victory in their cell.”
The Norwegian Nobel Committee in Oslo on October 6 said it was honoring the 51-year-old for “her fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her fight to promote human rights and freedom for all.”
In a statement released through The New York Times following the announcement, Mohammadi said the honor only strengthened her resolve to fight oppression, even if it means spending the rest of her life behind bars.
“I will never stop striving for the realization of democracy, freedom, and equality,” she said. “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.”
WATCH: The husband of jailed Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Narges Mohammadi has told RFE/RL the award is actually for the protest movement that swept the country in 2022. Speaking in Paris on October 6, Taghi Rahmani said: “Narges has received the prize as a symbol and as one of the activists of this movement.”
The award was widely applauded by the international community, while Iran denounced it as a “biased and political” action.
French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on social media that Mohammadi’s “fight against the oppression of women in Iran and for human rights is essential and universal.”
Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, a rights advocate who won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, wrote that the Iranian activist is “a courageous defender of Iranian women…. I hope this award further invigorates her campaign and elevates the voices of all Iranian women protesting against a repressive regime.”
Prominent Iranian activist Masih Alinejad wrote that recognition for “brave” Mohammadi was “very bittersweet for Iranians,” noting that “every day in Iran women are being harassed and bullied by morality police.”
Mohammadi’s campaign for freedom of expression and women’s rights has prompted the Islamic regime to arrest her 13 times, convict her five times, and sentence her to a total of 31 years in prison and 154 lashes.
She is serving multiple sentences in Tehran’s Evin Prison amounting to about 12 years’ imprisonment — she has not seen her family in more than eight years — on charges that include spreading propaganda against the state.
“Although the years of her absence can never be compensated for us, the reality is that the honor of recognizing Narges’s efforts for peace is a source of solace for our indescribable suffering,” a family statement said.
“For us, who know that the Nobel Peace Prize will aid her in achieving her goals, this day is a blessed day,” it added.
Mohammadi is the 19th woman to win the 122-year-old prize and the second Iranian woman, after human rights activist Shirin Ebadi won the award in 2003.
“This prize means that the world is paying attention to the activities that are being done in Iran [against] the rights of women. The world sees how the establishment represses women,” Ebadi told RFE/RL’s Radio Farda after the announcement. “As I have repeatedly said, democracy will enter Iran through the gate of women’s rights.”
Mohammadi’s husband, Taghi Rahmani, told RFE/RL’s Radio Farda that the Nobel announcement “opens a window for the fight for democracy, for human rights, civil equality.
“I think this is important. It’s not just a prize for Narges. It brings attention to resistance that is ongoing in Iran for freedom, democracy, and civil equality,” he added.
First arrested 22 years ago, Mohammadi has spent much of the past two decades in and out of jail over her unstinting campaigning for human rights in Iran. She has most recently been incarcerated since November 2021.