Enlarge image

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohammadi: "Maybe then the world will hear more about it"

Photo: - / AFP

This year's laureate, the imprisoned Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi, is expected to go on hunger strike again on Sunday to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. The 51-year-old wanted to show "solidarity with the religious minority" of the Baha'is, her brother Hamidreza Mohammadi and her husband Taghi Rahmani told journalists in the Norwegian capital Oslo.

Rahmani quoted his wife as saying, "I will start my hunger strike on the day I am awarded the prize, maybe then the world will hear more about it." The human rights activist's action was also announced on her Instagram page, which is maintained by acquaintances abroad for Narges Mohammadi.

The Baha'i religious community is the largest religious minority in Iran. Its supporters have long been subjected to political persecution and discrimination in the country. The leadership in Tehran regards the Baha'is as heretics and accuses them of being "spies" for Israel. Of the approximately seven million Baha'is worldwide, about 300,000 live in predominantly Shiite Iran. Among other things, they advocate equal rights for men and women.

Mohammadi had already gone on a hunger strike in November. She had refused to cover her hair with a headscarf for the transfer from prison to the hospital. Two days later, according to her own statements, she was taken to the hospital without a headscarf and then broke off her hunger strike. She needed urgent treatment for heart problems. She was initially forbidden to be transported from prison to hospital because she did not want to put on her headscarf.

Mohammadi plays a central role in the fight for women's rights and freedom of expression in her country. For decades, she has campaigned against compulsory headscarves and the death penalty in Iran. As a result, she has been repeatedly detained and flogged since 1998. Since November 2021, she has been imprisoned in Tehran's notorious Evin prison for "propaganda against the state".

"I don't think I'll see her again"

Mohammadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts at the beginning of October. On Sunday in Oslo, her daughter Kiana and son Ali will represent their mother and receive the award. The twins had fled to France with parts of the family.

In a letter smuggled out of prison published this week by Swedish broadcaster SVT, Mohammadi announced that she would continue her fight for human rights – even if it led to her death. But she also said she misses her children the most.

At a press conference in the Norwegian capital, Kiana Rahman, who last saw her mother eight years ago, said she was very pessimistic about the question of a reunion. "Maybe in 30 or 40 years, but I don't think I'll see her again." However, her mother will live on in her heart and family forever, according to the 17-year-old.

Her twin brother, Ali, said he had accepted from an early age that the family would live apart. However, he remains optimistic that he will see his mother again one day: "If not, we will always be proud of her and continue her fight."