Narges Mohammadi


Narges Mohammadi, an Iranian in her forties and the mother of two young children, is a longtime activist for human rights and women’s rights, who has been in and out of prison for the last fifteen years. She served as Executive Chair of the Center for Human Rights Defenders, where she was closely associated with Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner, Shirin Ebadi. The Center was closed by the Iranian government in 2008. Narges Mohammadi also founded and worked for an organization to oppose the death penalty.

In May 2016, she was sentenced to sixteen years in prison for her non-violent human rights activities. She was serving this sentence in Evin Prison until December 2019. She is critically ill, suffering from a pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in her lungs) and a neurological disorder that has resulted in seizures and temporary partial paralysis. She requires ongoing specialized medical care, which she cannot receive in prison.

Narges Mohammadi has consistently received degrading and inhumane treatment from prison officials. Authorities have used access to her ten-year-old twins as a tool to punish her, denying her telephone contact. When she undertook a hunger strike to protest the authority’s refusal to let her speak with her children, it triggered global outrage and thousands of people, including more than 100,000 Iranians, posted messages in solidarity through a Twitter campaign. After 20 days, she was able to speak with her children.

An open letter by Narges Mohammadi was published online in October 2016, in which she condemned the confirmation of her sentence. She wrote,

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.

In a crackdown against nationwide protests that took place in more than 100 cities across Iran in November 2019, security forces used unlawful force, killing at least 304 people, including children, according to credible reports. The majority of the deaths Amnesty International has recorded occurred as a result of gunshots to the head, heart, neck or other vital organs, suggesting that the security forces were shooting to kill. The authorities arrested thousands of protesters and subjected some to enforced disappearances, incommunicado detention, and torture and other ill-treatment. The authorities have also threatened and arbitrarily detained some of the relatives of protesters killed, either as punishment for speaking to the media and human rights organizations or to stop them from doing so.

On December 21, 2019, Narges Mohammadi, along with others held in the women’s ward of Evin prison, announced their intention to hold a sit-in from that day in solidarity with the commemorations being held of those killed by security forces in the November 2019 protests on the 40th day following their deaths. On December 26, 2019, Narges Mohammadi issued an open letter describing ill-treatment during her transfer to Zanjan prison.

The office of the prosecutor in Tehran has refused to process the complaint that Narges Mohammadi filed in connection with her alleged abuses by the head of Evin prison. The prosecution authorities have also refused to give her a copy of a report by the Legal Medicine Organization of Iran which, according to Narges Mohamadi, confirmed that she sustained bruises and injuries in the course of her violent transfer from Evin prison to Zanjan prison. Instead, they have told her lawyer that she must apologize in writing to the head of Evin prison for publicly accusing him of torture and other ill-treatment.

Narges Mohammadi was released on October 8, 2020 after five and a half years behind bars. However, on November 16, 2021, she was violently arrested while attending a memorial ceremony in the city of Karaj, Alborz province, to mark the second anniversary of the death of Ebrahim Ketabdar, who was killed by Iranian security forces during nationwide protests in November 2019. The day after her arrest, while held in solitary confinement, the authorities informed her that she was to begin serving a prison sentence of two years and six months following a 2021 conviction, and they also threatened to carry out her flogging sentence of 80 lashes imminently.

On January 4, 2022, while still in solitary confinement, Narges Mohammadi was taken before Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran to stand trial in a second case. This trial lasted just five minutes and she revealed afterwards being denied access to a lawyer both before and during the trial. On January 15, 2022, she was informed that the Court sentenced her to eight years and two months in prison; two years in internal “exile” in a city outside Tehran where she normally lives; a two-year ban on membership in political and social parties, groups or collectives; a two-year ban on engagement in online space, media and press; and 74 lashes. The January 2022 conviction and sentence are in addition to an earlier conviction by Branch 1177 of Criminal Court Two in Tehran, which sentenced her to two years and six months in prison, 80 lashes and two fines on charges that included “spreading propaganda against the system”. She was convicted of “offenses” stemming from her participation, during an earlier period of imprisonment, in a sit-in with other prisoners in the women’s ward of Evin prison between December 21-24, 2019 to protest unlawful killings during the November 2019 nationwide protests and making statements condemning the death penalty.

Amnesty International designated Narges Mohammadi as a Prisoner of Conscience. 15 Iranian parliamentarians have called for her release, urging the Iranian government “to apply the clemency and mercy of the Islamic Republic” and to reunite her with her children.

Write to the Iranian authorities, urging them to:

  • immediately and unconditionally release Narges Mohammadi as she is prisoner of conscience detained solely for her peaceful human rights activities,
  • quash her unjust convictions and sentences, and drop any criminal proceedings against her in relation to the peaceful exercise of her human rights,
  • provide her with adequate healthcare, including for treatment unavailable in prison, and with all the medication she requires,
  • protect her from further torture and other ill-treatment,
  • conduct a prompt, independent, effective and impartial investigation into her allegations of torture and other ill-treatment with a view of bringing those responsible to justice in fair trials.

Send letters to:

Head of judiciary, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei
c/o Embassy of Iran to the European Union
Avenue Franklin Roosevelt No. 15,
1050 Bruxelles