Three imprisoned Iranian women journalists – whose reporting helped spark the nationwide protests surrounding the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody – are the recipients of an award that celebrates press freedom, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced on Tuesday.
The three journalists were selected following the recommendation of an international jury of media professionals.
“We are committed to honoring the brave work of Iranian female journalists whose reporting led to a historical women-led revolution,” said Zainab Salbi, the jury Chair.
“They paid a hefty price for their commitment to report on and convey the truth. And for that, we are committed to honoring them and ensuring their voices will continue to echo worldwide until they are safe and free.”
Niloofar Hamedi writes for the leading reformist daily newspaper Shargh. She broke the news of the death of Mahsa Amini, the young woman who died in detention on 16 September 2022, three days after being arrested by Iran’s morality police for allegedly failing to properly cover her hair.
She has since been held in solitary confinement in notorious Evin Prison, located in the capital, Tehran, since last September.
Elaheh Mohammadi covers social issues and gender equality for the reformist newspaper, Ham-Mihan. She reported on Ms. Amini’s funeral and has also been detained in Evin Prison since September 2022. She had previously been barred from reporting for a year in 2020 due to her work.
Ms. Hamedi and Ms. Mohammadi are joint winners of both the 2023 International Press Freedom Award by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), and the 2023 Louis M. Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism, presented by Harvard University in the United States. They were also named as two of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2023.
Narges Mohammadi has worked for many years as a journalist for a range of newspapers and is also an author and Vice-Director of the Tehran-based civil society organization Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC). She is currently serving a 16-year sentence in Evin Prison.
Ms. Mohammadi has continued to report in print from prison. She has also interviewed other women prisoners, and these interviews are included in her book White Torture. Last year she won the Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) Courage Prize.