The children of imprisoned Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on her behalf on Sunday, reading out a speech she’d written behind bars in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison.
Her prize was placed on an empty chair Sunday between her 17-year-old twins, Ali and Kiana Rahmani, at the award ceremony in Oslo, Norway.
“I am an Iranian woman, a proud and honorable contributor to civilization, who is currently under the oppression of a despotic religious government,” her children said on her behalf. “I am a woman prisoner who, in enduring deep and soul-crushing suffering resulting from the lack of freedom, equality, and democracy, has recognized the necessity of her existence and has found faith.”
Mohammadi, who campaigned against the compulsory wearing of the hijab and the death penalty in Iran, also paid tribute to Shirin Ebadi, the first Iranian woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
Mohammadi’s activism has continued in prison. She’s currently on a hunger strike “in solidarity” with the Baha’i religious minority, her brother and husband told a press conference in the Norwegian capital on the eve of the Nobel award ceremony.
She also recently went on a hunger strike to be granted the right to get medical treatment without having to wear a hijab, Norwegian Nobel Committee Chair Berit Reiss-Andersen said.
“Recently she was offered much-needed medical help at a hospital on the condition that she wore a hijab when leaving the prison,” Reiss-Andersen said at the ceremony. “She refused and initiated a hunger strike. Finally, she was taken to hospital for a brief examination under tight security – but not wearing a hijab. Her resolve is unshakable.”
While behind bars in September 2022, Mohammadi also took leadership of the “Woman – Life – Freedom” movement following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Jina Amini. Amini was killed while in the custody of Iran’s morality police after she was accused of a dress code violation.
“The abolition of the mandatory hijab is equivalent to the abolition of all roots of religious tyranny and the breaking of the chains of authoritarian oppression,” Mohammadi’s children said on her behalf.
A large portrait of Mohammadi — hair uncovered — was on display during Sunday’s ceremony.
“She has asked us to use this particular photograph, which expresses how she wants to lead her life – looking happy in colorful garments, exposing her hair, and with a steady gaze towards us,” Reiss-Andersen said.
Mohammadi has been arrested 13 times, Reiss-Andersen said. In 2015, she began serving a sentence of 10 years and 153 lashes. Her children, who live in exile in France with Mohammadi’s husband, Taghi Rahmani, have not seen her in eight years.
Human rights activists from Ukraine, Belarus and Russiawon last year’s Nobel Peace Prize.