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Children of jailed Iranian human rights activist accept her Nobel Peace Prize

Narges Mohammadi’s prison sentence has been decried as politically motivated by the international community

Tom Watling
Monday 11 December 2023 10:31 GMT
Iran’s Mohammadi slams ‘tyrannical’ regime in Nobel Prize speech from jail

The children of imprisoned Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi have accepted this year’s Nobel Peace Prize on her behalf, having not seen her for seven years.

Ali and Kiana Rahmani, Ms Mohammadi’s twin 17-year-old children who live in exile in Paris with their father, were given the award at Oslo City Hall, before giving the Nobel Peace Prize lecture in their mother’s name. There was an empty chair on the podium between her children, to mark her absence.

Mohammadi, 51, a renowned advocate for women’s rights and democracy in her home country of Iran, is currently being held in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran, the capital, serving an eight-year sentence for “spreading propaganda”.

Estimates vary but it is believed Ms Mohammadi has been convicted five times, arrested 13 times and sentenced to a total of 31 years in prison. In addition to the multiple prison sentences handed down to Ms Mohammadi, she has also been given 150 lashes.

At a news conference in Oslo, the Norwegian capital, Mohammadi’s daughter Kiana thanked international media for telling her mother’s story.

“Iranian society needs global support and you, journalists and media professionals, are our greatest and most important allies in the difficult struggle against the destructive tyranny of the Islamic Republic government,” she said.  “I sincerely thank you for your efforts, for all you’ve done for us.”

The two children being handed the prize (AP)

But she added that she held little hope of seeing her mother again.

Addressing her mother’s continual detention, she said: “Maybe I’ll see her in 30 or 40 years but I think I won’t see her again. But that doesn’t matter because my mother will always live on in my heart, values that are worth fighting for.”

Mohammadi has remained vocal during her time in prison. In the presence of Norway’s King Harald and Queen Sonja and other dignitaries, Berit Reiss-Andersen, chairwoman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, applauded Ms Mohammadi’s commitment to human rights despite the enormous cost of speaking out.

“No punishment has stopped her,” Ms Reiss-Andersen said, adding that Ms Mohammadi had been engaged in a “life-long struggle in support of human rights and strong civil society”.

Speaking to Radio 4's Today programme on Monday, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe - the British-Iranian national who spent six years in an Iranian jail accused of spying and who attended the ceremony in Oslo on Sunday - said Ms Mohammadi was an individual everyone relied on.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who met Mohammadi while in prison, said: "What she gave others was the support and the love and the peace of mind that you are going to be looked after the moment you enter this space."

Mohammadi’s brother and husband told reporters in Oslo that she planned to go on a hunger strike in solidarity with the Baha’i Faith religious minority in Iran.

Her husband Taghi Rahmani previously said that he has not been able to see his wife for 11 years, and their children have not seen their mother for seven.

Mohammadi played a leading role in protests triggered by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last year while in custody of the morality police in Tehran for allegedly violating Iran's strict rules requiring women to cover their hair with a hijab, or headscarf.

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