Another petition that deserves your attention…

Take action by signing the petition on Amnesty’s website, here.

In light of the recent controversy in school regarding a certain petition, I felt that I should shed light on another appeal. By signing this petition, you can possibly save a life, maybe even more than one. It is an appeal by Amnesty International that calls on Iran to free 29-year old Atena Farghadani who was jailed for more than 12 years in prison, after a trial that lasted just half a day– the only ‘evidence’ against her extracted under interrogation.

Atena during a YouTube video. Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif stated during a TV interview: “We do not jail people for their opinions.”

An Iranian painter and women’s rights campaigner, in June 2015, she was prosecuted by the Iranian state and found guilty of charges including:

  • Gathering and colluding against national security
  • Insulting members of parliament through paintings
  • Spreading propaganda against the system
  • Insulting the President and insulting the Supreme Leader.
Jason Rezaian, a US-Iranian dual citizen was arrested on July 22, 2014 on four charges, including espionage and “propaganda against the establishment”. His case is being presided by judge Abolghassem Salavati who is infamous for handing down heavy sentences to political activists and is also the same judge on Atena’s case. Photo: Twitter

She had also been imprisoned previously in August 2014 and held in solitary confinement for two weeks without access to her lawyer or her family.

Excerpts from a video Atena made after her first imprisonment: 

 

One of the guards opened the cell door violently … and shouted ‘take off your clothes’

 

One of the guards who swore a lot held my hands up, because I was resisting the body search … My right hand hit the wall and my wrist became swollen and bruised …

 

One of them told me ‘shut your mouth or I will hit you so hard that your mouth will be full of blood‘.

 

she was jailed again for making the video.

A cartoon by the Cagle Post criticizing Atena's imprisonment.
A cartoon by the Cagle Post criticizing Atena’s imprisonment.

Atena is now facing adultery charges for shaking hands with her lawyer.

Atena’s lawyer, Mohammad Moghimi, visited her in prison after her trial and shook her hand. The handshake led to charges of ‘illegitimate sexual relationship short of adultery’ and ‘indecent conduct’ being brought against both the artist and her lawyer, Mohammad Moghimi, who will be tried for those charges in due course.

Amnesty has called Atena ‘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. Iran has pledged to protect free speech, including through artistic activities, as a signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

You can take action by signing the petition on Amnesty’s website, hereOn Wednesday, during break, there will be bake sale in school which will give you the opportunity to help gather funds for other initiatives and also the chance sign the petition for Atena.

Goncheh Ghavami is a British-Iranian law graduate (SOAS, University of London) who was held in solitary confinement in Evin Prison for protesting for equal access to sporting events in Iran in July 22, 2014. Photo: AP
Goncheh Ghavami is a British-Iranian law graduate (SOAS, University of London) who was held in solitary confinement in Evin Prison for protesting for equal access to sporting events in Iran in July 22, 2014. Photo: AP

Atena was interrogated for nine hours every day for six weeks during her first time in jail and, since her recent arrest, she has gone on hunger strike at least once for two weeks. Atena’s health has suffered during this period; her lawyer told told Amnesty that Atena had suffered a heart attack and briefly lost consciousness in late February as a result of her hunger strike.

You can also write a letter to the Iranian authorities and ask that Atena be re-united with her family using the same link as before. This is a chance to not only save Atena, but to prevent other individuals from suffering this kind of oppression in the future.

To find out more about Atena, you can visit these links, the first of which is Atena’s open letter to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei:

iranpresswatch.org/post/11322/

cartoonistsrights.org/artistactivist-atena-farghadani-on-hunger-strike-in-iranian-prison/

www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/20/iranian-painter-and-womens-rights-activist-on-trial-for-insulting-mps


The information presented in this article does not necessarily reflect the views or beliefs of The Update. We are reporting either the facts or opinions held by third parties related to the subject of the article.