CRNI’s 2015 Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning is being given to Iranian artist-activist Atena Farghadani. Ms. Farghadani was jailed in Tehran in August of 2014 after publishing a cartoon in protest of proposed legislation that would restrict birth control and women’s rights in Iran. Following her release four months later, Farghadani posted a YouTube video recounting her beatings and mistreatment while in prison. In anticipation of her trial on charges that included “spreading propaganda against the system,” Farghadani wrote a defiant open letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in which she said: “I know … I will be in a court that screams injustice. I will be present before a judge who for years has skewed the balance of justice … What you call an ‘insult to representatives of the parliament by means of cartoons’ I consider to be an artistic expression of the … parliament which our nation does not deserve!”
As a result of that letter and her YouTube posting, Farghadani was returned to prison in January, 2015. In May, she was tried and found guilty of “insulting members of parliament through paintings” and “insulting the Iranian supreme leader.” Atena Farghadani was sentenced to 12 years, nine months in prison.
The Courage in Cartooning award will be presented to Atena Farghadani in absentia by CRNI founder and Executive Director Dr. Robert Russell in Columbus, Ohio, on September 5, at an evening event during the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists 2015 convention.