Atena Farghadani returns to prison after refusing to accept bail

 
Atena Farghadani returns to prison after refusing to accept bail

Farghadani in a November 2017 photo / Instagram

Painter and cartoonist Atena Farghadani has been re-imprisoned in Iran after refusing to accept bail after being charged with"disturbing public order".

According to her lawyer, she was summoned to Evin prison court on 8 June. She refused to accept on the grounds that she had committed no crime and that her summons and charges were illegal and arbitrary, and was transferred to the Qarchak women's prison outside Tehran.

Background

On 23 August 2014, Atena was arrested, interrogated and detained. Her "crime" then, according to the Iranian judiciary, was to depict members of Parliament with the heads of different animals in this drawing she posted on Facebook.

Atena Farghadani returns to prison after refusing to accept bail 1

She was finally sentenced by the Revolutionary Court in Tehran to 12 years and 9 months in prison for, among other things, publishing the cartoons as a form of protest against the birth control law, which also made divorce even more difficult.

On 3 May 2016, Atena was released from prison, coincidentally or not, coinciding with World Press Freedom Day after spending almost a year and a half in prison.

Here is the story in more detail.

Three international organisations defending cartoonists have issued this joint statement to demand her immediate and unconditional release.

Atena Farghadani returns to prison after refusing to accept bail 2

Following widespread press coverage of the arrest and detention of Iranian artist, activist and cartoonist Atena Farghadani in Tehran on 7 June 2023, CARTOONISTS RIGHTS (USA), Cartooning For Peace (Paris) and the FREEDOM CARTOONISTS Foundation (Geneva) are calling on prosecutors in the Islamic Republic of Iran to drop the charges of"disturbing the peace" and release Ms. Farghadani immediately.

According to her lawyer, Mohammad Moghimi: "Since her release in 2016, intelligence and security agents have harassed her many times, including preventing her from working, tapping her phone and disturbing her private life. These instances have led her to protest against the agencies responsible and that has become the basis for her detention."

It was Mr. Moghimi who on 8 June and via Twitter confirmed her arrest following a summons to the Evin prison court. The following day he further stated, "Bail in the amount of $4,200 has been issued for my client Atena Farghdani, and she refused to accept the bail on the grounds that she has not committed any crime and that her summons and charges are illegal and arbitrary, so she was transferred to Qarchak women's prison outside Tehran."

From a reliable source we have learned that the charges so far relate to disturbing public order. After an absence of some three years and three months, Farghadani used his Instagram account last week and, prior to his court summons, had posted images of a new coloured pencil drawing. Despite much speculation on the internet, at this point we have no reason to believe that she was arrested because of this social media post.

A brief history of the 2014 case
Ms. Farghadani was awarded our Courage in Vignette Award in 2015, after a 2014 drawing posted on Facebook depicting parliamentarians as animals, an objection to laws restricting women's reproductive choices, led to a series of criminal charges including"spreading propaganda against the system","insulting members of parliament through paintings","gathering and plotting against national security","insulting the president" and"insulting prison officials".

After eighteen months in prison, all but one of the sentences were commuted or reduced; for the next four years, Farghadani could have returned to prison at any time under a suspended sentence for"insulting the Iranian supreme leader".

During her imprisonment, Farghadani was severely abused and subjected against her will to virginity and pregnancy tests, practices considered torture by international human rights standards. She went on hunger strike for a time and suffered a heart attack. Following a handshake between her and Mr. Moghimi she faced additional criminal charges of"unlawful sexual intercourse falling short of adultery".

In conclusion
Therefore, now that the same authorities are once again holding Ms. Farghadani in detention, there is every reason to fear escalation and further charges in the future, as well as appalling ill-treatment.

In our opinion, Atena Farghadani is a prisoner of conscience, there is no justification for her detention, and we demand her immediate and unconditional release.

Statement in French


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