In a message smuggled out of her cell in Tehran, Nobel Peace Prize winner and women's rights activist Narges Mohammadi said that transitioning away from Iran’s “religious authoritarian regime” to a more democratic, equalitarian and freer political system is an "unstoppable process."
Mohammadi’s 17-year-old daughter, Kiana Rahmani, read out the message nearly a month after the imprisoned activist was awarded the Nobel prize for her fight against the “oppression of women in Iran” and for her efforts to promote “human rights and freedom for all."
The 51-year-old activist once again criticized the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code for women, saying that "the compulsory hijab is a means of control and repression imposed on the society and on which the continuation and survival of this authoritarian religious regime depends."
She condemned "a regime that has institutionalized deprivation and poverty in society for 45 years," and said that it was "built on lies, deception, cunning and intimidation."
Mohammadi, whose family took refuge in France, has been arrested 13 times, convicted five times, and sentenced to a total of 31 years in prison and 154 lashes for her activism.
Incarcerated in Tehran’s Evin prison following her latest arrest in 2021, she has been one of the women spearheading the "Woman, Life, Freedom" uprising in Iran.
The protest movement, which has seen many Iranian women and girls take off their hijab, cut their hair and rally in the streets, was sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September last year after she was arrested for allegedly wearing a headscarf improperly.
The monthslong demonstrations waned earlier this year following a deadly state crackdown in which hundreds of people were killed and thousands were unlawfully arrested.
However, many Iranian women and girls continue to refuse to wear a mandatory headscarf, in a direct challenge to the country’s clerical rulers.
"We, the people of Iran, demand democracy, freedom, human rights, and equality, and the Islamic Republic is the main obstacle in the way of realizing these national demands," Mohammadi said in her message.
"We... are struggling to transition away from this religious authoritarian regime through solidarity and drawing on the power of a non-violent and unstoppable process in order to revive the honor and pride of Iran and human dignity and prestige for its people," she continued.
"Victory is not easy, but it is certain," the activist concluded.