The advocacy group Journalism Is Not A Crime has commissioned murals in London and New York pushing for the release of Iranian artist/activist Atena Farghadani. The four-story New York mural — which depicts Ms. Farghadani with her mouth missing — is in place to greet the arrival of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani for a United Nations summit meeting beginning on September 25th. The murals compliment the ongoing cartoon protest, #Draw4Atena, launched by journalist/cartoonist Michael Cavna. Amnesty International has declared Ms. Farghadani a prisoner of conscience and is petitioning for her release. Cartoonists Rights Network has issued an open letter to President Rouhani and Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, demanding the same.
Atena Farghadani was handed a 12 year, nine month, prison sentence for posting a cartoon critical of legislation that would curtail the reproductive rights of Iranian women, and for going public about her mistreatment by prison guards. Ms. Farghadani was presented, in absentia, with CRNI’s 2015 Courage in Editorial Cartooning award, to the enthusiatic applause of an audience of international cartoonists, in Columbus, Ohio, on September 10th.
The non-profit group International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reports that Ms. Farghadani went on a hunger strike on September 10th to protest defamation and verbal abuse from guards. Following a prison visit, Atena’s mother, Eshrat Ardestani, is quoted saying: “Atena was looking really bad when we visited her on September 13, 2015. She could barely walk and could not stand on her feet … On the fourth day [of her hunger strike] her blood pressure had dropped so low that they had to take her to the clinic on [a makeshift stretcher made of] a sheet.” [Story]
Damascus News Service Reports Cartoonist Akram Raslan Is Dead
Syrian cartoonist Akram Raslan, who was taken into custody by agents of the government of Bashir al-Assad at the Al-Fida newspaper offices in the city of Hama in October, 2012, has been reported dead by the Damascus-based news service Souriatna.
Based on testimony attributed to fellow prisoner F.Y., Akram Raslan died in a jail hospital sometime in the spring of 2013, his frail condition possibly a result of torture.
Palestinian cartoonist Fadi Abou Hassan, who knew and worked with Akram Raslan in Syria, told Cartoon Movement that his friend was one of the bravest cartoonists in the country. “His works were known for being very direct in opposing the Syrian regime and its head. He was publishing from Syria through Arabic journals and websites, he stood by the Syrian revolution since the very first day, Raslan drew more than 300 cartoons that accompanied the early developments of the Syrian revolution.”
Akram Raslan was given, in absentia, CRNI’s Courage in Editorial Cartooning award in 2013. At that time, cartoonist Joel Pett said: “CRNI gives Akram Raslan our annual Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning in recognition of his extraordinary courage in confronting the forces of violence with cartoons that told only the truth.”
Akram Raslan was born in Souran, in northern Syria, in 1978. [More]