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Narges Mohammadi, imprisoned Iranian peace activist, accepts Nobel Prize

Kiana (L) and Ali Rahmani (R) stand next to an empty chair with the peace prize diploma for their mother, Iranian human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize 2023 winner Narges Mohammadi, during the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2023 in Oslo, Norway, on Sunday. Photo by Fredrik Varfjell/EPA-EFE
Kiana (L) and Ali Rahmani (R) stand next to an empty chair with the peace prize diploma for their mother, Iranian human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize 2023 winner Narges Mohammadi, during the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2023 in Oslo, Norway, on Sunday. Photo by Fredrik Varfjell/EPA-EFE

Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Imprisoned Iranian human rights activist Narges Mohammdi accepted her Nobel Peace Prize Sunday with a speech penned from behind the walls of Tehran's Evin prison and read by her children in Oslo, Norway.

Mohammadi's 17-year old teenage twins, Kiana and Ali, who have not seen their mother since they were 8, accepted the prize on her behalf during the event at Oslo City Hall.

Mohammadi was awarded the prize in October for what the Nobel Committee said was "her fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her fight to promote human rights and freedom for all."

In her speech, Mohammadi called on Western governments not to "postpone democracy" and work to avoid "strategies focused on the continuation of the Islamic Republic's rule."

"I express my gratitude to the honorable members of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee for awarding the prestigious and honorable Nobel Peace Prize to the glorious movement of Women, Life, Freedom and to a woman, a human rights defender, and a democracy advocate, who is imprisoned," she wrote from her cell. "Your meaningful and powerful support is deeply appreciated."

Iranian women prisoners cover their faces as they sit in a room during a tour for journalists of the notorious Evin prison in Tehran, Iran in 2006. Narges Mohammadi, who received the Nobel Peace Prize Sunday, is incarcerated here. File Photo by Mohammad Kheirkhah/UPI
Iranian women prisoners cover their faces as they sit in a room during a tour for journalists of the notorious Evin prison in Tehran, Iran in 2006. Narges Mohammadi, who received the Nobel Peace Prize Sunday, is incarcerated here. File Photo by Mohammad Kheirkhah/UPI

Mohammadi has spent a total of 31 of 51 years in prison for her activism, and has described herself as one of the "millions of proud and resilient Iranian women who have risen up against oppression, repression, discrimination, and tyranny."

Iranian authorities have repeatedly increased her prison sentence, with charges varying from conspiring against national security to spreading false propaganda. She is likely to receive another sentence extension as the result of writing and sending the Nobel acceptance speech.

In it, she documents the impact of the "Woman, Life, Freedom" protests, which erupted across Iran in October 2022 following the death of a young Kurdish Iranian woman, Mahsa Amini, in the custody of morality police.

"Resistance is alive, and the struggle endures," Mohammadi said in the speech."The Iranian people will dismantle obstruction and despotism through their persistence. Have no doubt - this is certain."

The final sentences of her speech were hopeful. She expressed confidence "that the light of freedom and justice will shine brightly on the land of Iran."

The closing lines delivered by her son, Ali, received a standing ovation from the audience and chants of: "Zan Zendegi Azadi," the Farsi slogan of the recent protest movement.

While giving a rousing speech in accepting the award on their mother's behalf, Mohammadi's children are not hopeful of her release.

"I'm really not very optimistic about ever seeing [my mother] again," said Kiana. "My mom has a 10-year sentence left and every time she does something, like sending out the speech we will read out at the ceremony, that adds to her sentence.

"She will always be in my heart, and I accept that because the struggle, the movement, Woman, Life, Freedom, is worth it. Freedom and democracy are priceless. It's all worth the sacrifice," she added.

Shireen Ebadi, a 2003 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, attended the ceremony Sunday, as did Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, who, during her 6-year imprisonment, shared a prison cell with Mohammadi.

Communication with Mohammadi was already tightly restricted, which worsened in the weeks prior to the Peace Prize ceremony.