2023 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Narges Mohammadi, women’s rights activist jailed in Iran

Narges Mohammadi, a jailed Iranian women’s rights advocate, won the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday. The former vice president of the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC) organization was chosen by a panel of experts in Norway from a list of just over 350 nominations.

The DHRC’s office was raided and the group barred by Iranian authorities in 2008. Mohammadi was arrested in 2015 and later sentenced to 10 years in prison for “forming and managing an illegal group”, among other charges.

In 2019, Mohammadi and fellow prisoner Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian national, announced plans to go on hunger strike in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, to protest against the denial of medical treatment. Zaghari-Ratcliffe was released by Iran in 2022 after the U.K. government settled a decades-old debt to Tehran, but Mohammadi remains inside Evin.

Iranian human rights activist and vice president of the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), Narges Mohammadi, poses in an undated handout photo.

Mohammadi family archive photos/Handout via REUTERS

Mohammadi and the DHRC had worked to help free numerous political prisoners in Iran before the group was  

Last year’s prize was won by human rights activists from Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, in what was seen as a strong rebuke to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart and ally.

The prize can be awarded to individuals or organizations. Other previous winners include Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, Mikhail Gorbachev, Aung San Suu Kyi and the United Nations.

Unlike the other Nobel prizes that are selected and announced in Stockholm, founder Alfred Nobel decreed that the peace prize be decided and awarded in Oslo by the five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee.

The independent panel is appointed by the Norwegian parliament.

This year, the committee received 351 nominations — 259 for individuals and 92 for organizations. People who can make nominations include former Nobel Peace Prize winners, members of the committee, heads of states, members of parliaments and professors of political science, history and international law.

The peace prize is the fifth of this year’s prizes to be announced. A day earlier, the Nobel committee awarded Norwegian writer Jon Fosse the prize for literature. On Wednesday, the chemistry prize went to U.S. scientists Moungi Bawendi, Louis Brus and Alexei Ekimov.

The physics prize went Tuesday to French-Swedish physicist Anne L’Huillier, French scientist Pierre Agostini and Hungarian-born Ferenc Krausz. Hungarian-American Katalin Karikó and American Drew Weissman won the Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday.

Nobels season ends on Monday with the announcement of the winner of the economics prize, formally known as the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.

The prizes are handed out at awards ceremonies in December in Oslo and Stockholm. They carry a cash award of 11 million Swedish kronor (about $1 million). Winners also receive an 18-carat gold medal and diploma when they collect their Nobel Prizes at the award ceremonies in December.

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