Over 12 years in prison for art and activism!
Iran, action created 9.9.2015, petition is active
Iranian prisoner of conscience and painter Atena Farghadani was sentenced and imprisoned for over twelve years for her artistic work and peaceful activities. She is now critically ill as a result of her hunger strike as protest against her detention.
Farghadani is a 29-year-old artist and activist. On June 1st 2015, she was sentenced to 12 years and 9 months in prison. The allegations against her were "gathering and colluding against national security," "insulting members of parliament," "spreading propaganda against the system", "insulting the president," and "insulting Iran's supreme leader." These accusations were based on Farghadani's peaceful activities, including meeting with the families of political prisoners, and anti-government posts on Facebook. The authorities also brought charges against Farghadani's exhibition that commemorated those who were killed in the aftermath of the disputed presidential election in 2009, and against her cartoon criticizing parliament members for considering a bill that sought to criminalize voluntary sterilization as part of a larger plan to restrict access to contraception and family planning services.
After Farghadani's arrest followed an unfair trial that lasted less than half a day. The evidence was based on lengthy interrogations that were conducted at a time when Farghadani was held in solitary confinement in Evin prison with no access to her family or a lawyer. If the appeal fails, she will be facing a 7.5 year imprisonment for the most serious accusation - "assembly and collusion against national security".
Farghadani was denied the right to freedom of expression, a fair tria,l and the right not to be tortured or subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment. Amnesty International therefore considers her a prisoner of conscience and calls for her immediate and unconditional release.
Farghadani was first arrested on August 23th 2014 at her home in Tehran when she was returning from the hospital after a visit for a hand injury. She was kept in Evin prison, under the control of the Revolutionary Guards, for almost two months. She spent 15 days in solitary confinement without access to family and lawyers. On November 6th, she was released on bail. Speaking to the media, Farghadani said she was interrogated nine hours a day for a month and a half after her arrest.
Farghadani was arrested again on January 10th 2015 when she was summoned before a Revolutionary Court, most likely in retaliation for the video that she published shortly after her release. In the video she explained how the women prison guards beat and attempted to subject her to degrading body searches. She also said in her video message that during her detention, in order to be able to paint, she flattened and used the paper cups in which she was given milk. However, the prison guards confiscated her paintings and stopped giving her paper cups after they discovered that she had been using them for painting. Farghadani's parents, in media interviews, said that Farghadani had been subjected to beatings in the courtroom even before her transfer to Gharchak Prison, which does not have a department for political prisoners and where conditions for prisoners are terribly poor. Farghadani began a "wet" hunger strike on February 9th (accepting fluids, but not food) to protest her continued detention. On February 25th, Farghadani's lawyer said that she had a heart attack as a result of the hunger strike and had lost consciousness. Farghadani claimed that she will not end her hunger strike unless the authorities meet her request to transfer her to Tehran’s Evin Prison. On February 26th, Farghadani Farghadani was taken to a hospital outside prison.
Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Iran has signed, states that no person shall be subject to arbitrary arrest or imprisonment. Incarceration is considered arbitrary if a person is deprived of liberty because he or she has exercised the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the ICCPR. Incarceration is also considered arbitrary if it violates the detainee's right to a fair trial, which includes the rights to have access to a lawyer, to present before the judge, to challenge the lawfulness of detention, and to have adequate time and instruments to prepare a defence. There is also a presumption of release pending trial and detainees are entitled to compensation if they are held unlawfully.