Nobel Prize: Writings of Narges Mohammadi

Nobel laureate Narges Mohammadi has been prolific in her writing, including essays, articles, a book and social media campaigning on issues of human rights and personal freedoms. The following is a sampling of recent comments. 


Instagram post on Oct. 6, 2023

“Women will not give up. We are fueled by a will to survive, whether we are inside prison or outside.”


Letter from prison to CNN in July 2023

“My letter may be long and disturbing in its subject matter, and some may perceive it as a ‘challenge’ and ‘feminist protest’ with a radical orientation. However, it is an attempt, in accordance with human rights, ethics, and of course, feminism, to protest against the continuation of 'violence and sexual harassment of women' by a government that, under the guise of religion, has taken away 'femininity' from us as a means to advance its illegitimate power and ambitions. My protest is based on human rights and feminist concerns, but it carries deeper and more profound implications. I cannot simply confine myself to condemning gross violations of human rights and women’s rights. I also intend to address the destructive falsehood and deceit of the government. A government that, with an ideological approach and misuse of spiritual and salvation elements among the people, attempts to control every aspect of individual and social life, under the pretext of family, security, and protection of the 'woman,' leaving no aspect of 'life' and 'feminine identity' outside its oppressive grasp… 

“I want to emphasize that this letter is not written by a free feminist in a developed democratic society, benefiting from civil protest methods and human rights, but rather by an imprisoned woman who, like millions of Iranian women, has been living under the 'authority' and 'oppression' of a military system with ideological, patriarchal, and tyrannical foundations since the age of 6, deprived of life, youth, 'femininity,' and 'motherhood'… 

“'Mandatory hijab' showcases the image of domination, subjugation, and control over women, which, when extended, makes the control over the entire society smooth and achievable… 

“This text is not intended as an elegy for Iranian women. It is a testament to the fact that the tyranny and oppression of the government have inflicted incurable wounds on our lives, spirits, and minds. Women were the first, greatest, and most oppressed victims of religious despotism, but they were also the most steadfast, indomitable, and influential social force, and in recent protest and revolutionary movements, they have been at the forefront as the most advanced and radical forces. 

“Iranian women do not derive their credibility and legitimacy of struggle from the intensity of the oppression and discrimination they have endured, but rather from their continuous and courageous resistance and struggle for democracy, life, freedom, equality, human rights, and peace. Their position will be established in the future of our country, and they will determine their rights. 

“We, women, believe that fear, terror, and storms can never shake and tremble the mountains.”  


Guest essay in The New York Times Sept. 16, 2023

“The More They Lock Us Up, the Stronger We Become“

“My fellow inmates and I were gathered in the women’s ward of Evin prison in Tehran one evening when we saw a television report of Mahsa Amini’s death. It was one year ago Saturday that she died in the custody of Iran’s morality police for allegedly failing to wear a proper hijab. Her death set off an immediate and widespread uprising — led by women — that rocked the country. 

“In the women’s ward, we were filled with grief — and rage. We used our short phone calls to collect information. At night, we held meetings to exchange the news we’d heard. We were stuck inside, but we did what we could to raise our voices against the regime. Anger reached its peak a few weeks later, when a fire swept through part of Evin on Oct. 15. We chanted 'Death to the Islamic Republic' amid the gunfire from security forces, explosions and flames. At least eight people were killed.”  

“What the government may not understand is that the more of us they lock up, the stronger we become. 

“The morale among the new prisoners is high. Some spoke with strange ease about writing their wills before heading onto the streets to call for change. All of them, no matter how they were arrested, had one demand: Overthrow the Islamic Republic regime. 

“We are fueled by a will to survive, whether we are inside prison or outside. The government’s violent and brutal repression may sometimes keep people from the streets, but our struggle will continue until the day when light takes over darkness and the sun of freedom embraces the Iranian people.”


Instagram post on Sept. 17, 2023

“I climbed atop a car and chanted ‘Death to the Islamic Republic’. The Islamic Republic is accountable for anything that happens to me.”


Instagram post on Aug. 18, 2023

“We have seen women and girls entering prison with bruised and injured faces and bodies. The injuries included fractured cheekbones, rib pain, blows to the head and bruises.”


Instagram on July 25, 2023 

“Obviously the four cold and hard walls of the prison and the remoteness and deprivation of seeing my children Kiana and Ali, as well as my sick old father, have stolen part of the beauties and pleasures of my life. Sometimes, seeing a sparrow or a butterfly circling in the prison yard, I think of Kiana’s sweetness and beauty, And the passage of a dandelion immerses me in the memory of my tender Ali. I sing for them and revive in my mind the hope of a future meeting. Families of female prisoners come to see their loved ones in prison every Sunday. And I remain, with a feeling of envy stranger than regret, observing their urgent steps. Prisoner mothers can talk on the phone with their children from Saturday to Wednesday. I hunt the words “my dear daughter.” 


Acceptance speech for the Sakharov Prize on April, 16, 2018 

“In the last 25 years, I have been active in 11 civil society organizations, either as a member or as a founding member. Now, with great regret, I see the doors of these organizations being closed and sealed by the government. Yet 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. It cannot even tolerate unions such as Association of Iranian Journalists, or human rights organizations such as the Center for Defenders of Human Rights, or charity bodies like the Association in Support of Working Children. 

“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.”

“Experiencing emptiness, lack, deprivation and estrangement is difficult. I believe that the word “difficult” is too weak and cannot account for this situation. But, for his ideals and his objectives, the human being is capable of accepting all suffering and despite it arousing, experimenting, and spreading hope and passion to give meaning and brilliance to his life.”