Iranian artist-activist Atena Farghadani has been handed a 12 year prison sentence by Tehran’s Revolutionary Court for posting a cartoon in protest of legislation to restrict birth-control and make divorce more difficult in her country. The illustration, in which Iran’s parliamentarians were depicted with animal heads, was posted on Farghadani’s Facebook page.
After spending nine months in prison awaiting trial, during which time she reportedly suffered a heart attack while on a hunger strike, Farghadani has been found guilty of “insulting members of parliament through paintings” and “insulting the Iranian supreme leader.”
The 28-year-old painter had also been charged with “gathering and colluding with anti-revolutionary individuals and deviant sects” for contact she had with families of political prisoners and followers of the Baha’i faith during a painting exhibition. The exhibition — Parandegan-e Khak (Birds of Earth) — focused attention on protesters killed by government forces in the wake of Iran’s contested 2009 election.
In 2014, Farghadani posted a YouTube video documenting police abuse during a previous incarceration.
Amnesty International researcher Raha Bahreini told The Guardian newspaper: “Iran’s relentless crackdown on journalists, artists and activists critical of the state is not only out of line with international human rights standards, it is also utterly inconsistent with claims by Iran’s minister of foreign affairs and other authorities that Iran does not jail people for their opinion.” Amnesty International has declared Farghadani a prisoner of conscience and mounted a petition for her release.
CRNI board member Nikahang Kowsar, who was jailed in Iran in 2000 for political cartooning, said Farghadani’s cartoon highlighted “the stupidity of the system that does not respect the rights of women to have fewer children.”
“Atena is a brave artist who did not censor herself in face of fear. The infamous Judge [Abolghassem] Salavati’s fear-mongering tactics did not work on Atena and she decided to tell the world how Iranian jailers treat political prisoners.
“Many people thought that President [Hassan] Rouhani has the power and will to make drastic changes and protect citizens’ rights. He cannot even defend the freedom of speech and choice of someone like Atena, an innocent artist who does not believe in compromise and self censorship.”
From Amnesty International
Please write immediately in Persian, English, Arabic, French, Spanish or your own language:
- Calling on the Iranian authorities to release Atena Farghadani immediately and unconditionally, as she is a prisoner of conscience held solely for the peaceful exercise of her rights to freedom of expression and association;
- Urging them to ensure that her conviction and sentence are quashed;
- Reminding them that Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is state party, protects the right to freedom of expression, which includes artistic activities.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 15 JULY 2015 TO:
- Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader Islamic Republic Street – End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street
- Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: (via website) http://www.leader.ir/langs/en/index.php? p=letter
- Twitter: @khamenei_ir (English), @Khamenei_ar (Arabic), @Khamenei_es (Spanish). Salutation: Your Excellency
- Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani
c/o Public Relations Office
Number 4, 2 Azizi Street intersection Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran Salutation: Your Excellency
- And copies to:
President of the Islamic republic of Iran Hassan Rouhani
Pasteur Street, Pasteur Square Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran Twitter:@HassanRouhani (English), @Rouhani_ir (Persian)