Jailed Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi was awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for her fight against the oppression of women and her efforts to promote human rights and freedom.

Mohammadi, 51, has continued her struggle even after the regime in Tehran convicted her five times and sentenced her to a total of 31 years in prison, as well as 154 lashes, the Oslo-based Norwegian Nobel Committee said in a statement Friday.

She is the second Iranian woman to be awarded the prize after human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi in 2003. She’s also the fifth person to receive the accolade while under arrest.

The death in custody last year of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman, triggered weeks of nationwide protests that transcended opposition to state suppression of women for defying dress codes.

It also set in motion a movement that posed the biggest challenge to the country’s clerical leadership in decades.

“The motto adopted by the demonstrators – ‘Woman – Life – Freedom’ – suitably expresses the dedication and work of Narges Mohammadi,” the Nobel committee said.

“This year’s Peace Prize also recognizes 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,” it added.

Even in captivity, Mohammadi — who will receive an 11 million-krona ($1 million) award — has helped to ensure the protests against the regime have not ebbed out, the committee said.

“If the Iranian authorities make the right decision, they will release her so she can be present to receive this honor, which is what we primarily hope for,” Committee Chair Berit Reiss-Andersen told reporters in Oslo.

Since the protests, women have increasingly flouted the requirement to wear the hijab in public, particularly in urban areas, testing the boundaries of the strict Islamic state.

Norway-based rights organization Hengaw this week accused the so-called morality police of hospitalizing 16-year-old Armita Geravand when she boarded a Tehran subway train without a headscarf.

Geravand’s mother was subsequently apprehended by security forces, Hengaw said, without identifying the source of its information. Iranian state media said Geravand fainted and that no physical altercation took place.

Mohammadi is the 19th woman to be awarded the peace prize. The committee received 351 nominations this year, of which 259 were individuals and the rest organizations. Their names are kept secret for 50 years.

Last year, Bialiatski shared the prize with Russian human rights organization Memorial and the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties.

Previous laureates include Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, Martin Luther King and the European Union.

Annual prizes for achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, peace and literature were established in the will of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite, who died in 1896. The prize in economic sciences was added by Sweden’s central bank in 1968.

—With assistance from Kati Pohjanpalo.


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