From prisoner to Nobel laureate: Narges Mohammadi's extraordinary journey

She won the Nobel Peace prize for her fight against oppression of women in Iran

Narges-mohammadi-nobel-peace-prize-winner-afp A handout photo provided by the Narges Mohammadi Foundation | AFP

Narges Mohammadi, a prominent Iranian human rights activist, made headlines worldwide when she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2023. This prestigious honour was bestowed on her in recognition of her unwavering commitment to promoting human rights, freedom, and her relentless fight against the oppression of women in Iran.

Who is Narges Mohammadi?

Born on April 21, 1972, in Zanjan, Iran, Narges Mohammadi has dedicated her life to advocating for justice and equality. She is married to Taghi Rahmani, another activist, and they have two children, Kiana and Ali. Their family's story is one of sacrifice and resilience, as Taghi Rahmani was arrested shortly after their marriage, spending a staggering 14 years in prison in Iran. Eventually, Rahmani found refuge in France, while Narges remained in Iran to continue her tireless work.

Narges Mohammadi's journey into activism began as she pursued her studies in nuclear physics in Qazvin. It was there that she met her future husband, who also shared her passion for advocating for change. Her commitment to human rights led her to join the Defenders of Human Rights Center in Iran, an organisation founded by Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi, of which she eventually became the vice-president.

However, Narges Mohammadi's path to activism was far from smooth. She has faced adversity and persecution throughout her life, having been imprisoned an astonishing 13 times and convicted five times. This cumulative sentence amounted to a shocking 31 years behind bars. Mohammadi even endured the physical punishment of 154 lashes.

Her most recent imprisonment came after she attended a memorial for Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old whose death in police custody sparked massive outrage and protests against the Iranian regime. Narges Mohammadi's dedication to fighting for the rights of women in Iran was highlighted by the Nobel Committee, which described her as a "freedom fighter" and recognised her role in the "Woman – Life – Freedom" movement.

One of Narges Mohammadi's significant contributions to human rights advocacy is her relentless campaign for the abolition of the death penalty in Iran, a country known for having one of the highest execution rates in the world. Even while in prison, she organized protests alongside fellow women inmates, defiantly challenging the government's policies.

In 2022, Mohammadi's book titled 'White Torture' was published. It provided a harrowing account of life under solitary confinement and included interviews with other Iranian women who had experienced similar punishment. This book shed light on the inhumane treatment endured by those who dared to speak out against injustice in Iran.

Narges Mohammadi's dedication to the cause of human rights and her unwavering courage in the face of persecution have earned her numerous human rights awards over the years. However, the Nobel Peace Prize is undoubtedly the most prestigious of them all, elevating her international profile and bringing further attention to the struggles of the Iranian people.


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