Nobel Peace Prize winner Narges Mohammadi, currently jailed in Iran for her activism for women’s rights, will begin a new hunger strike in prison as her prize is awarded in Norway, says her family.
At a news conference on Saturday in Oslo, Mohammadi’s husband Taghi Rahmani, their twin children, Ali and Kiana Rahmani, and her brother who are representing the veteran rights activist at the awards ceremony on Sunday, said the new strike is to show solidarity towards the Baha’i religious minority in Iran.
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“She is not here with us today, she is in prison and she will be on a hunger strike in solidarity with a religious minority but we feel her presence here,” her younger brother, Hamidreza Mohammadi, said in a brief opening statement.
Mohammadi, 51, was awarded the Nobel prize in October “for her fight against the oppression of women in Iran”. She is 19th woman to win the 11 million Swedish kronor (about $1m) prize, and the fifth person to win it while in detention.
“On International Human Rights Day, 10th of December, I will also go on a hunger strike in protest against violations of human rights in Iran and in solidarity with the hunger strike of Baha’i women prisoners in Evin Prison,” said a post on Mohammadi’s Instagram account.
Mohammadi is currently held in Evin prison in Tehran, where she went another hunger strike last month to protest limits on medical care for her and other inmates, as well as the obligation for women to wear the hijab in Iran, according to her family.
In a letter smuggled out from prison and published on Monday by Swedish public broadcaster SVT, Mohammadi said she would continue the strike even if it led to her death.
“Imprisonment, psychological torture, constant solitary confinement, sentence after sentence; that hasn’t and is not going to stop me,” she wrote, according to SVT.
“I am going to stand up for freedom and equality even if it costs me my life,” she said, and added that she missed her children the most.
In a strong statement of support for Mohammadi, the chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen, said the body was “deeply concerned” about the 2023 laureate’s health.
First arrested 22 years ago, Mohammadi has spent much of the past two decades in and out of jail over her campaigning for human rights in Iran. She has most recently been incarcerated since November 2021 and has not seen her children, now based in France, for eight years.
At the news conference in Oslo, Kiana, who last saw her mother eight years ago, said, “When it comes to seeing her again, personally I am very pessimistic.”
“Maybe I’ll see her in 30 or 40 years, but I think I won’t see her again,” she told a news conference via a translator. “But that doesn’t matter because my mother will always live on in my heart and with my family.”
Mohammadi’s Nobel Prize came in the wake of months-long protests across Iran triggered by the September 2022 death in custody of Mahsa Amini, 22, who was arrested for allegedly flouting Iran’s strict dress rules for women.
Both Ali and Kiana will receive Mohammadi’s diploma and gold medal at Oslo’s City Hall and give the Nobel Prize lecture on behalf of their mother on Sunday.