PARIS: Iranian prison authorities have blocked 2023 Nobel Peace Prize winner Narges Mohammadi’s hospital transfer for urgently needed care over her refusal to wear the compulsory hijab, her family has said.
Veteran rights activist Mohammadi, 51, who is currently being held in Tehran’s Evin prison, was awarded the prize in October “for her fight against the oppression of women in Iran”.
Her selection came in the wake of months-long protests across Iran triggered by the September 2022 death in custody of Mahsa Amini, 22, who had been arrested for allegedly flouting the Islamic republic’s strict dress rules for women.
Mohammadi has subsequently announced she would not under any circumstances wear a hijab, the head covering which has been obligatory for women in public spaces since shortly after Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution.
Prison authorities in response have refused to transfer Mohammadi, who suffers from heart and lung conditions, to a hospital outside Evin, her family said in a statement, warning her health and life were at risk.
“Two days and nights, a group of women in Evin protested in the prison yard to send Narges Mohammadi to the heart hospital,“ they wrote on her official Instagram account late on Wednesday.
“The prison warden announced that, according to the orders of the higher authorities, sending her to the heart hospital without a headscarf was prohibited, and her transfer was cancelled,“ the family said.
On Monday, a medical team came to the women’s wing of Evin to examine Mohammadi and carry out an echocardiogram scan after “the prison even refused to transfer Narges to the infirmary” without a headscarf, the statement added.
It said the scan showed two veins with severe blockages and high lung pressure, with a coronary angiogram and lung scan urgently needed.
“She is willing to risk her life by not wearing the ‘forced hijab’, even for medical treatment,“ the family said.
In a message expressing gratitude for the prize, read by her daughter and posted on the Nobel website late Tuesday, Mohammadi described the compulsory hijab as a “means of control and repression imposed on society and on which the continuation and survival of this authoritarian religious regime depends”.
Earlier this week, Mohammadi also expressed outrage over what she described as the “murder” of 17-year-old Armita Garawand.
Activists say Garawand died after being beaten by the Tehran morality police for not wearing a headscarf, which has been vehemently denied by the authorities. -AFP