Narges Mohammadi, 2023 Nobel Peace Prize winner in danger, deprived of medical care and on hunger strike: lawyers and journalists file a complaint with the UN against the Iranian government

The danger of imprisoned Iranian journalist and Nobel peace laureate Narges Mohammadi dying as a result of her arbitrary detention in Iran and, in particular, the denial of medical care during her current hunger strike is cited in a joint referral to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary detention by the Iran Justice lawyers collective and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).


Chirinne Ardakani, the family’s lawyer, said the referral made today (8 November) requests an “urgent action” by this committee of UN experts in the form of “a letter of allegation” to the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, to be sent via diplomatic channels. It would call on the Iranian authorities to:

       end Narges Mohammadi’s arbitrary detention without delay;

       take all appropriate measures to guarantee her physical and psychological well-being and, in particular, her access without delay to the medical care necessary for her health.

This quasi-jurisdictional UN body has also been asked to investigate the inhuman and degrading treatment – including beatings, “white torture” and denial of medical care – that is inflicted on Mohammadi by her jailers, usually on the orders of senior officials.

Mohammadi began a hunger strike on 6 November in protest against the systematic denial of medical care for women detainees, including herself, who refuse to wear the hijab. When a request for her transfer to hospital was refused for the third time in 20 days, she said: “I refuse to choose between death and the obligatory veil.”

In a show of solidarity, seven of her fellow women detainees have since then also gone on hunger strike to demand that Mohammadi be given urgent medical care.

Her husband, the Iranian dissident Taghi Rahmani, said: “There is an urgent need for the international community to take action of a massive scale because the state of health of Narges, who suffers from significant heart and lung ailments, is worsening to an alarming degree. Her life is now in danger and the Iranian government will be held responsible for anything that happens from this day forward."

Mohammadi has been arbitrarily detained in Tehran’s Evin prison since 16 November 2021. A prisoner of conscience, her detention is the result of a conviction on 22 May 2021 that ultimately led to a sentence of two and a half years in prison, 80 lashes and two fines for “disseminating propaganda against the system” and attending a ceremony commemorating a demonstrator who was killed by security forces during a wave of cost of living protests in November 2019.

The aims of this referral by Iran Justice and RSF, which is both legal and symbolic, include:

      Drawing attention to the fact that the Iranian authorities have repeatedly violated Mohammadi’s fundamental rights, including her freedom of expression and opinion, her dignity, her right to security, and her right to a normal and private family life;

      Stepping up the international pressure on the Iranian authorities and combatting impunity.

The referral also marks the start of a campaign bringing together a score of NGOs from all over the world to demand Mohammadi’s release so that she can collect her Nobel Peace Prize during the official ceremony in Oslo on 10 December.

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