Iran Arrests, Tortures Political Cartoonist – #freeatena

The Iranian regime will put on trial a 28-year old cartoonist for drawing a political cartoon against a law drafted last March that would severely restrict birth control for both men and women.

The cartoon portrayed legislators as animals casting their votes on the legislation.

Atena  Farghandani was arrested last August when her home was raided by the Revolutionary Guards. She was taken to Gharchak prison for four months where she said she was beaten and interrogated for up to nine hours a day.

During a brief release in December, she posted a video in Persian detailing her inhumane treatment and was rearrested. Close to two months later, Farghandani went on a hunger strike and suffered a heart attack. She has been kept in solitary confinement since that time.

The law in question would prohibit men from having vasectomies and women from undergoing voluntary sterilization. It also severely restricts a woman’s access to birth control.

Amnesty International initiated a worldwide petition calling for Farghandeni’s release. It was presented at the Iranian embassy in London earlier this week.

Speaking to the BBC, Raha Bahreini, an Iran researcher for Amnesty, said,"We are very concerned that Atena has even been put on trial. She is a prisoner of conscience and she has been held solely because of her opinions and for exercising the right to free expression.”

Bahreini also said Farghandani’s trial may last as little as one day. If convicted, she faces up to two years in prison as well as lashes for the crimes of spreading propaganda, insulting legislators and insulting the supreme leader.

A Facebook page has been started to support Farghadani and share details of her case. Supporters on Twitter are using the hashtag #freeatena.