Tehran, Iran (GVO) – Atena Farghadani, a 28-year-old artist incarcerated for charges stemming from a cartoon she drew about access to contraception in Iran, went to trial on Tuesday, May 19. After the court session, the judge declared that an official verdict would be made known in anywhere between a week and 20 days. In the interim, she remains detained.
The Facebook page supporting her case posted the following update:
The trial of Atena Farghadani has been held.
The trial of #Atena_Farghadani the activist, critic and painter was held in Revolutionary Court Tuesday, May 19. The case and charges were handled by Judge Salavati.
Today, the space around the court was highly tense and security was tight, even the lawyers and court personnel were not allowed to be around Judge Salavati without screening, and all the people was screened on the second floor of the court.
In court, Atena’s lawyer discussed and presented his client’s case, with his comments and defence.
At the end of the court session, Judge Salavati announced that the final verdict would be released in one week to 20 days.
Farghadani is charged with spreading propaganda against the system; insulting members of parliament through paintings; and insulting the supreme leader. The image that led to her arrest depicts Iran’s members of parliament as animals voting on law that will restrict access to contraception and criminalise voluntary sterilisation, severely curtailing women’s rights.
Her initial arrest came in August 2014, when she was held in solitary confinement for prolonged periods of time in Evin prison. She was released in December, but was detained again after publicly discussing her mistreatment by the prison guards.
According to the Human Rights Activist News Agency, Judge Abu’l-Qasim Salavati summoned Farghadani in January following her public discussions of the mistreatment she faced by prison guards during the first period of her incarceration.
In an open letter to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, Farghadani posted the following in response to Judge Salavati’s January summons:
I will be present at the 15th Branch Revolutionary court on Moallem street at 8:30 AM on Saturday, the 10th of January, before judge Salavati… I know this Saturday I will be in a court that screams injustice. I will be present before a judge who for years has skewed the balance of justice. I, therefore, must pay retribution for defending my beloved defenseless people. Inasmuch as, for many years, nowhere in my country have I ever seen any official occupy his post, and each of us has had our positions change in different ways, I, the accused, sit and proudly present my written defense to one who for 25-some-odd years has not only preserved and protected his own position, but who also sits as the head of all three branches of government…..What you call an “insult to representatives of the parliament by means of cartoons” I consider to be an artistic expression of the home of our nation (parliament), which our nation does not deserve!
Want to help? Find Amnesty International’s call to action here, and continue to support Farghadani on social media.