A prestigious ceremony with one major absentee: the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in Oslo on Sunday to imprisoned Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi, who was represented by her children.
A staunch opponent of the mandatory wearing of the hijab by women and of the death penalty in Iran, Mohammadi, was awarded the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize in October for her decades of activism despite numerous arrests by Iranian authorities and spending years behind bars.
She was absent from the award ceremony at 13:00 at Oslo City Hall. Her 17-year-old twins, Ali and Kiana, received the prize on her behalf and read a speech she managed to transmit from prison.
At a news conference in Oslo on Saturday, Kiana Rahmani read out a message from her mother, in which the imprisoned activist praised the role international media played in “conveying the voice of dissenters, protesters and human rights defenders to the world.”
“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. I sincerely thank you for your efforts, for all you’ve done for us,” Mohammadi said in her note.
Kiana Rahmani said she held little hope of seeing her mother again.
“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,” she said.
During Sunday’s ceremony, the prizewinner was observing a hunger strike in solidarity with the Baha’i community, Iran’s largest religious minority, which claims to be discriminated against in many areas of society.
In fragile health, the 51-year-old activist had already stopped eating for several days in early November to obtain the right to be transferred to the hospital without covering her head.
Mohammadi played a leading role in protests triggered by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last year while in police custody for allegedly violating the country’s strict headscarf law which forces women to cover their hair and entire bodies.
Mohammadi is the 19th woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize and the second Iranian woman after human rights activist Shirin Ebadi won the award in 2003.
It’s the fifth time in the 122-year history of the awards that the Peace Prize has been given to someone who is in prison or under house arrest.