Narges Mohammadi (Persian: نرگس محمدی; born 21 April 1972) is an Iranian human rights activist and the vice president of the Defenders of Human Rights Center. In May 2016, she was imprisoned in Tehran for establishing and running "a human rights movement that campaigns for the abolition of the death penalty"; she was released in 2020. While again in prison, she was awarded the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize "for her fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her fight to promote human rights and freedom for all".
- I am, in my own homeland, convicted and imprisoned for the crime of being a human rights defender, a feminist and an opponent of the death penalty. [But] not only have my imprisonment and my recent 16-year sentence not made me feel any regret, they have actually strengthened my convictions and commitment to defending human rights more than ever before.
- As quoted in "Did Facebook censor an Arab Women’s Rights Group?", Vocativ (13 November 2012)
- I am a 44-year-old woman condemned to 22 years in prison by the Islamic Republic of Iran and I know very well that this is not the end of the story, I have no doubt that those who provided the ink for penning such rulings and those who used it to write them, as well as the noble people of my country, all know I have committed no crime or sin to deserve such a harsh punishment. I have faith in the path I have chosen, the actions I have taken, as well as my beliefs. I am determined to make human rights a reality [in Iran] and have no regrets. If those who claim to be spreading justice are firm on their judgment against me, I am also firm on my faith and beliefs. I will not waiver under tyrannical punishments that will limit my freedom to the four walls of the prison cell. I will endure this incarceration, but I will never accept it as lawful, human or moral, and I will always speak out against this injustice.
- As quoted in "Prominent Rights Activist Narges Mohammadi Rejects Prison Sentence in Stinging Open Letter", Center for Human Rights in Iran (14 October 2016).
- Our intent for this gathering was to protest some of the plans by members of the Parliament which are targeting women’s bodies and psyche. Plans such as the ‘Plan on Protection of Promoters of Virtue and Preventers of Vice’ and the ‘Plan to Protect Chastity and Hijab’ have issues and vocabulary that may be abused in the Iranian society and turned into excuses for violence [against women].
- About the 2014 protest on the acid attacks on women in Isfahan. As quoted in "Protesters Deploring Acid Attacks against Women Are Beaten and Arrested", Center for Human Rights in Iran (24 October 2014).
- They are only deceitful words that make a mockery of justice when a judicial system detains, convicts and punishes people according to the biased and malicious opinions of security-military agencies and denies prisoners their legal rights.
- As quoted in "1,000 Days in Prison: Narges Mohammadi Condemns Iranian Judiciary's 'Subservience' to Security Agencies", Center for Human Rights in Iran (21 February 2018).
- Killing, imprisoning or denying the rights of a human being is not injustice against one person; it enchains and kills a whole society.
- Similar to Quran 5:32, as quoted in "1,000 Days in Prison: Narges Mohammadi Condemns Iranian Judiciary's 'Subservience' to Security Agencies", Center for Human Rights in Iran (21 February 2018).
- The execution of people like Navid Afkari and Ruhollah Zam in the past year, have been the most ambiguous executions in Iran. Issuing the death penalty for Ahmadreza Djalali is one of the most erroneous sentences and the reasons for the issuance of these death sentences need to be carefully examined. These people have been sentenced to death after being held in solitary confinement and subjected to horrific psychological and mental torture, that is why I do not consider the judicial process to be fair or just; I see keeping defendants in solitary confinement, forcing them to make untrue and false confessions that are used as the key evidence in issuing these sentences. That’s why I am particularly worried about the recent arrests in Sistan and Baluchistan and Kurdistan, and I hope that anti-death penalty organisations will pay special attention to the detainees because I fear that we will be facing another wave of executions over the coming year.
- As quoted in "Narges Mohammadi: Violence of Death Penalty is Worse Than War", Iran Human Rights. (30 March 2021)
Letter Accepting 2018 Andrei Sakharov Prize (2018)
- I was filled with joy when studying quantum physics at the university as a means to understand the universe. But at the same time, I was preoccupied with the oppressive conditions in my country and the tyranny suffered by our universities, intellectuals, and the media. Like many others in our universities, I felt compelled to join the struggle for freedom. What we experience is a decades-old tyranny, that cannot tolerate freedom of speech and thought. In the name of religion, it restricts and punishes science, intellect, and even love. It labels as a threat to national security and toxic to society whatever is not compatible with its political and economic interests. It considers punishing unwelcome ideas as a positive thing. It does not tolerate differences of opinion; it responds to logic not by logic, discussion or dialog, but by suppression. By tyranny I mean a ruling power that tries to make only one voice—the voice of a ruling minority in Iran—dominant, with no regard for pluralism in the society. By tyranny I mean a judiciary that disregards even the Islamic Republic’s own constitution, and sentences intellectuals, writers, journalists, and political and civil activists to long prison terms, without due process and trial in a court of law. ... By tyranny I mean power-holders who believe they stand above the law and who disregard justice and the urgent demands of the human conscience.
- As a civil activist, I am one of the thousands of the victims of such horrible tortures. I have come to this conclusion: the aim of solitary confinement is brain-washing, so that prisoners, deprived of normal living conditions, lose their unique human characteristics, their train of thought and ideas, and their physical and psychological health.
- Tyranny does not impose itself only in the political sphere. This tyranny uses every possible leverage at the disposal of the state to institutionalize discrimination on the basis of gender, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, and ideological orientation, particularly against women. By sustaining patriarchal dominance, drafting and enforcing misogynistic laws, and even by fabricating a false culture in contradiction with the norms of the society, it deprives women of their human and civil rights and seeks to prevent them from social engagement. Therefore, when a woman like me decides to break their dictated norms, she must suffer prison and separation from her children, as an intimidating lesson for other women.
- Contemplating such questions as the dialectical relations between being and becoming has inspired and strengthened my beliefs. You are not hearing here some random ideas of a passionate student or a distressed prisoner, but reflections rooted in the experience of a woman physicist who happens to have also advocated for equal rights and human rights, and who as a result was subjected to threats, deprivation, arrests, continuous prosecutions, and finally sentenced to a total of 23 years of imprisonment, 16 years of which has to be served based on the ruling laws in Iran. The harsh treatment and excessive sentence to which I have been subjected were not due to any underground violent or terrorist activity on my part, but– as admitted by the judges of this very system–because of my insistence on the rights of civil society and of human rights. My case, then, clearly portrays the unjust, brutal and illegal practices of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
- Without universities independent of government control, the natural process of acquiring knowledge and developing thought will be thwarted, if not rendered impossible.
- I am not hopeless nor have I lost my motivation. We cannot stop trying. I still hope and deeply believe that the tireless efforts of our civil society activists will eventually bear fruit. I am awaiting the moment I can rejoin my colleagues in these activities once I am released. The path to democracy in Iran lies not through violence, war, or military action by a foreign government, but through organizing and strengthening civil society institutions. The government knows this only too well. It is fearful of non-governmental civil society organizations precisely because of its undemocratic nature.
- As a human rights defender, like millions of Iranians, I hate the death penalty; I despise discrimination and injustice against women; I protest against the imprisonment and torture of political and civil rights activists in solitary confinement; and I will not be silent in the face of human rights violations. In order to institutionalize human rights and achieve peace between the people and the state, I shall endure my deprivation of freedom and rights, even though separation from my children is nothing less than death for me. I am a woman and a mother, and with all my feminine and maternal sensibilities, I seek a world free from violence and injustice, even if I have suffered injustice and violence tens of times.
- Thoughts and dreams don’t die. Belief in freedom and justice does not perish with imprisonment, torture or even death and tyranny do not prevail over freedom, even when they rely on the power of the state. Sitting here in the prison, I am deeply humbled by the honor you have bestowed on me and I will continue my efforts until we achieve peace, tolerance for a plurality of views, and human rights.
Quotes about Mohammadi
- I am so pleased for her. It makes me cry. She did so much for all of us in Evin. Narges is an inspiration and a pillar to the women in the female ward in Evin for her fearless fight against violation of women’s rights, use of solitary confinement and execution in the judicial system in Iran. This award belongs to every single Iranian woman who, one way or another, has been and remain to be a victim of injustice in Iran.
- Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, as cited in "Jailed Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi wins 2023 Nobel peace prize", The Guardian (6 October 2023)
- Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe shared a cell with Mohammadi in Evin Prison, Tehran during her own incarceration
- The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2023 to Narges Mohammadi for her fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her fight to promote human rights and freedom for all. Her brave struggle has come with tremendous personal costs. Altogether, the regime has arrested her 13 times, convicted her five times, and sentenced her to a total of 31 years in prison and 154 lashes. … In awarding her this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to honour her courageous fight for human rights, freedom, and democracy in Iran. This year’s Peace Prize also recognises the hundreds of thousands of people who, in the preceding year, have demonstrated against the theocratic regime’s policies of discrimination and oppression targeting women. Only by embracing equal rights for all can the world achieve the fraternity between nations that Alfred Nobel sought to promote. The award to Narges Mohammadi follows a long tradition in which the Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded the Peace Prize to those working to advance social justice, human rights, and democracy. These are important preconditions for lasting peace.