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Husband of imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize winner dedicates her award to Iranian women

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

In Iran, reformists and pro-democracy advocates are celebrating the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Narges Homadi (ph) - forgive me, Narges Mohammadi, the women's right activist who's serving a 10-year sentence in Iran's Evin Prison for, quote, "spreading anti-state propaganda." Those celebrating include her husband. NPR's - NPR reached him in Paris, where he lives with the couple's children. And for more on this, we're joined by NPR's Peter Kenyon in Istanbul. Peter, what did her husband have to say about his wife receiving this most notable prize?

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: Well, when NPR reached Taghi Rahmani in Paris, he clearly thought the award was well deserved. He also said he hopes it will advance the cause of women's rights and human rights in Iran. Here's a bit of what he said.

TAGHI RAHMANI: (Non-English language spoken).

KENYON: Now he's saying, quote, "This prize is the most important prize in human rights. When someone wins this prize, the focus of the international community turns to them." And the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize began with the chant women, life, freedom. So in reality, the prize doesn't belong to Narges, he said. This prize is for the movement, the efforts of Iranian women, and Narges is one of those women. Now, in announcing the prize, the chairperson of the Nobel committee mentioned the high price Narges Mohammadi has paid for her advocacy. She's been arrested 13 times, convicted five times, sentenced to a total of 31 years in prison. Her husband, Rahmani, has also served 14 years in prison, so he knows what his wife is going through.

SIMON: Does he seem to think this prize could increase pressure on the Iranian government to release his wife?

KENYON: Well, when he was asked that question, he chose to quote something his wife had said. Here's what he said.

RAHMANI: (Non-English language spoken).

KENYON: He's saying, "Narges says, I hope my children will forgive me because I will fight for the freedom of other children." He goes on to say that he wants Narges to be freed so they can live together as a family once again.

SIMON: Is there any chance the government might consider doing that?

KENYON: It seems highly unlikely this hard-line regime would take that step. After last year's protests following the death of a young Kurdish Iranian woman in police custody, we've seen a systematic crackdown on dissent. Activists, academics and others have faced jail or other sanctions. Courts have handed out heavy sentences, even the death penalty for some protesters. A U.N. independent investigators report released Friday says that as of the end of July, at least 537 people had died for protesting, including 48 women and 68 children. The rights group Amnesty International has said the international community has to find a way to address what it calls, quote, "the crisis of systematic impunity" that has allowed widespread torture, extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings by Iranian authorities.

SIMON: Meanwhile, Peter, reports of another young woman who may have been attacked for improper attire - what can you tell us?

KENYON: Well, yes, 16-year-old Armita Geravand is reportedly in a coma now after an incident aboard a subway. CCTV footage shows her entering the subway car with her headscarf down around her shoulders. It's not clear exactly what happened inside the car, but she's next seen being dragged out, possibly unconscious. Narges Mohammadi's husband addressed that case, too. Here's what he said.

RAHMANI: (Non-English language spoken).

KENYON: He says, "why should an innocent 16-year-old girl be going through this? What sin has she committed?" He says the real freedom is freedom for everyone. Of course, at the moment that freedom seems to be a long way off.

SIMON: NPR's Peter Kenyon in Istanbul, thanks so much.

KENYON: Thanks, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
Peter Kenyon is NPR's international correspondent based in Istanbul, Turkey.

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