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  • Apr 26, 2016

Jailed Iranian Cartoonist Will Be Released

A portrait of the jailed 29-year-old artist ATENA FARGHADANI who is now slated to be released on May 11. Photo sourced from the ‘Free Atena’ Facebook group.

On April 25, the NGO Journalism is Not a Crime reported that the jailed Iranian artist Atena Farghadani would be freed on May 11, 2016, after an Iranian appeals court reduced her sentence from 12 years and nine months, to 18 months. Farghadani was first arrested in 2014 after after she created a cartoon depicting Iranian lawmakers as animals, in response to a measure approved by the parliament that limited women’s access to contraception. She spent three months in Tehran’s notorious Elvin prison, where she was tortured. A video posted to YouTube in which she recounts that episode led to her being beaten and arrested on January 10, 2015, by members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. She was subsequently convicted in June 2015 of “spreading propaganda against the regime.”

The news comes after several reports were released that Farghadani was subjected to a “virginity test” and a pregnancy test in August 2015, according to Amnesty International. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s March 2016 report on human rights in Iran reiterated that Farghadani was “reportedly subject to torture, sexual harassment and degrading detention conditions. Furthermore, she was reportedly forced to take virginity and pregnancy tests, and held in prolonged solitary confinement for 20 days.”

In January, Farghadani was threatened with additional charges of “indecent conduct” and “illegitimate sexual relationship short of adultery” after she shook hands with her lawyer, Mohammad Moghimi. Farghadani went on hunger strike, and the charges were ultimately dropped. Moghimi was the person who also announced her forthcoming release from Gharchak Prison, south of Tehran. Farghadani is just 29 years old. Her two-year ordeal has garnered widespread international attention, particularly as Iran and the United States tried to reach a nuclear agreement. The Guardian newspaper and cartoonist groups were collecting cartoons in solidarity with Farghadani under the hashtag #Draw4Atena.

The cartoon depicting Iranian lawmakers as animals by ATENA FARGHADANI that led to her detentions and conviction. Sourced from the ‘Free Atena’ Facebook page.

HG Masters is editor-at-large of ArtAsiaPacific.

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