Latest Nobel Peace Laureate Goes on Hunger Strike

Latest laureate Narges Mohammadi is in Iranian prison, protesting access to health care, mandatory hijabs
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 6, 2023 12:57 PM CST
Latest Nobel Peace Laureate Goes on Hunger Strike
Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi at a meeting on women's rights in Tehran, Iran, Aug. 27, 2007. A campaign urging Iran to free the Nobel Peace Prize laureate said Monday, Nov. 6, 2023, that she started a hunger strike over the conditions of her imprisonment and Iran's mandatory hijab for women.   (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Narges Mohammadi began a hunger strike Monday over being blocked along with other inmates from getting medical care and to protest the country's mandatory headscarves for women, said a campaign advocating for the activist. The decision by Mohammadi, 51, increases pressure on Iran's theocracy over her incarceration, a month after being awarded the Nobel for her years of activism despite a decades-long campaign by the government targeting her. Meanwhile, another incarcerated activist, the lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, reportedly needs medical care she has yet to receive, reports the AP. She was arrested while attending a funeral for a teenage girl who died under disputed circumstances in Tehran's Metro while not wearing a hijab.

The Free Narges Mohammadi campaign said she sent a message from Evin Prison and "informed her family that she started a hunger strike several hours ago." It said Mohammadi and her lawyer for weeks have sought her transfer to a specialist hospital for heart and lung care. It did not elaborate on what conditions Mohammadi suffered from, though it described her as receiving an echocardiogram of her heart. "Narges went on a hunger strike today ... protesting two things: The Islamic Republic's policy of delaying and neglecting medical care for sick inmates ... (and the) policy of 'death' or 'mandatory hijab' for Iranian women," the statement read. It added that the Islamic Republic "is responsible for anything that happens to our beloved Narges."

Iranian officials and its state-controlled television network did not immediately acknowledge Mohammadi's hunger strike. While women in Iran hold jobs, academic positions, and even government appointments, their lives are tightly controlled. Women are required by law to wear a hijab, to cover their hair. Since the death last year of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody, however, more women are choosing not to wear it despite an increasing campaign by authorities targeting them. Mohammadi has kept up her activism despite numerous arrests by Iranian authorities and spending years behind bars. She has remained a leading light for nationwide, women-led protests sparked by the death of Amini that have grown into one of the most intense challenges to Iran's theocratic government.

(More Narges Mohammadi stories.)

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