Human Rights Groups Condemn Six-Year Prison Sentence of Iranian Artist Atena Farghadani

Iranian artist and activist Atena Farghadani has been sentenced to six years in her home country of Iran, a ruling that has been denounced by human rights organizations.

Fragahdani was arrested by intelligence agents from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard armed forces after she attempted to hang one of her works on Tehran’s Pasteur Avenue wall, near the presidential palace. Her sentence was confirmed by her lawyer,  Mohammad Moghimi, who wrote on X on June 10: “My client was sentenced to six years in prison by Branch 26 [of the court] on the charges of insulting holy [elements] and preaching against the regime. Under the pretext of multiple crimes, this show court has delivered the harshest punishment in [relation to] the two mentioned charges.”

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Human Rights Groups Condemn Sentencing of Artist Atena Farghadani

Shortly after the sentencing, the Index on Censorship organization said in an online statement: “We are dismayed to learn that the Iranian activist, artist and cartoonist Atena Farghadani has been sentenced to a total of six years in prison… the maximum penalties are indicative of the Iranian regime’s long-standing determination to persecute and silence this courageous rights defender.”

The Index on Censorship has joined other human rights groups, including Freemuse and Cartooning for Peace, in calling for Farghadani’s immediate release. According to the Human Rights Activists News Agency, Farghadani was arrested on April 13 and taken to a residence controlled by the Revolutionary Guard, where she was beaten. On April 14, she was tried at Tehran’s Evin court on charges of “blasphemy,” “disturbing public order,” and “propaganda against the Islamic Republic.” 

Moghimi said that in May, Farghadani refused to “attend her trial at Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court, citing the court’s illegality and the lack of observance of justice and fair trial principles in the prosecution of political defendants.” He told the Art Newspaper that the human rights group Artists at Risk Connection is “concerned about her safety while in detention, given the abuse she has already suffered.”

Farghadani was previously arrested in June 2023 on charges of “disturbing public order.” She was held in Qarchak Prison, a women’s prison that has been condemned by human rights groups for its inhumane treatment of inmates. She was later released on bail.

In 2015, Farghadani was sentenced to 12 years and nine months in prison for criticism of the Iranian government and “spreading propaganda against the system.” Farghadani had created satirical drawings in which the Iranian parliament members were depicted as monkeys and goats in protest of two planned bills aimed at restricting access to contraception. She was released in May 2016 after a successful appeal.


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