#FreeAtena: Facing Prison For Drawing Cartoons In Iran
By Amnesty International UK
16 May 2015
Amnesty International UK
Atena Farghadani is a prisoner of conscience, detained and facing years in prison for her peaceful activism.
28-year-old Atena will be tried on Tuesday of charges including ‘spreading propaganda against the system’ and ‘insulting members of parliament through paintings’. Ask Iran’s leaders to release her immediately.
Last August, 12 members of the Revolutionary Guards came to Atena’s house. They confiscated her personal belongings, blindfolded her and took her to Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. She was to be punished for her peaceful acts of political defiance, including meeting the families of political prisoners and for posting on Facebook a cartoon she’d drawn that was critical of members of the Iranian parliament.
Iran is currently creating a law that will roll back women’s rights in the country by restricting access to contraception and criminalizing voluntary sterilization. Atena’s cartoon, which depicted politicians in favor of this Bill, is now being held against her – one of the charges she faces at her trial on Tuesday 19 May is ‘insulting members of parliament through paintings’.
Beaten in detention, punished for speaking out
Atena was released in November last year, but rearrested just six weeks later. In the time that she was released, she gave media interviews and posted a video on youtube describing how the prison guards had interrogated her for 9 hours every day for six weeks. She said that female prison guards had beaten her and subjected her to degrading body searches.
Just weeks after posting her youtube video, Atena was once again arrested – possibly as reprisal for speaking out.
She now faces charges including
# Spreading propaganda against the system.
# Insulting members of parliament through paintings.
# Insulting the Supreme Leader.
Atena is a prisoner of conscience – she has committed no real crime. She is being unfairly punished simply for exercising her right to free speech, association and assembly.
Please help us call on the Supreme Leader and Head of the Judiciary in Iran to release Atena as a matter of urgency.
Hunger strike in protest at prison conditions
Atena was kept in solitary confinement for over two weeks when she was detained last year in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. During that time she was denied access to her lawyer or family. After her release from detention, she said that she’d been beaten by prison guards.
Three weeks after she was rearrested in January this year, Atena went on hunger strike to protest that she was being held in extremely poor prison conditions, in a jail that does not have a section for political prisoners. Atena’s health suffered considerably as a result; her lawyer told us that the 28-year-old had suffered a heart attack and briefly lost consciousness in late February as a result of her hunger strike.
Atena has since been moved to another detention centre and stopped her hunger strike, but we remain worried about her health.
Call on Iran to release Atena and reunite her with her family immediately: she has committed no crime.
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