An inmate of the infamous Evin prison in Tehran, she is a symbol of the fight for human and women’s rights in Iran
Narges Mohammadi, winner of the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize, is one of the symbols of the fight for human and women’s rights in Iran. A battle that has cost almost everything to this activist detained in the infamous Evin prison in Tehran, where she is serving a 31-year prison sentence. It is no coincidence that the Nobel Committee, which awarded her the Peace Prize, highlighted in its motivations “the tremendous personal cost” that the 51-year-old, who has spent most of the last 20 years locked up in prison, is paying.
Mohammadi was arrested 13 times and sentenced five for being the voice of those who have never had one, for her incessant campaign against the death penalty, torture and solitary confinement in prison, the latter practice being the subject of her latest battle. Last year you published the book ‘White Torture’ in which you recount more than two months in solitary confinement in section 209 of Evin.
“The purpose of white torture is to permanently sever the connection between a person’s body and mind to force the individual to recant their ethics and actions,” he writes. Mohammadi created the book’s foreword during a short medical leave from prison last year.
He is currently serving a 10 year and 9 month sentence for acts against national security and propaganda against the state. She was also sentenced to 154 lashes, a punishment that human rights groups say has not yet been given to her.
But not even the darkest cells of Evin managed to stifle his voice as well as that of another well-known activist, Nasrin Sotoudeh. A few weeks ago, on the anniversary of the death of Mahsa Amini, the young woman arrested for violating the dress code and died in the custody of the Iranian morality police, Mohammadi organized a protest from inside the prison. She and three other women burned their veils.
In an audio recording from inside Evin, shared with CNN, Mohammadi is heard chanting “woman, life, freedom” – the slogan of the uprising sparked last year by Mahsa’s death. Then the recording is interrupted by a short automated message – “This is a phone call from Evin Prison” – as the women are heard singing the Farsi version of Bella Ciao.
The Iranian women’s battle for the veil has forcefully returned to attention in recent days due to the case of another young woman who did not respect the imposition, that of 16-year-old Armita Geravand, who ended up in a coma in circumstances yet to be clarified in the Tehran subway . According to activist groups, it was the morality police (Gasht-e Ershad) who reduced her to a hospital bed by pushing her and making her hit her head against a pole. Her family members would not be able to visit her.
An activist since his university days and having founded the ‘Enlightened Students’ group, Mohammadi, in comments received by CNN, said that the government’s behavior has once again “raised our concerns” and is “indicative of his efforts to prevent the truth about Armita Geravand from coming to light.”
In another recent letter, Mohammadi instead railed against compulsory hijab, denouncing what she believes is the hypocrisy of a religious state that uses sexual violence against female prisoners. Violence to which the activist was also repeatedly subjected.