A Revolutionary Court in Tehran has sentenced artist and civil rights activist Atena Faraghdani to a total of 12.5 years in prison for drawings and content critical of the government that the young activist posted on her Facebook page.
… the authorities particularly fear social media networks, which have become hugely popular in Iran, especially among the young, and have clamped down especially hard on any content deemed even remotely critical of state policies expressed on them.
“The court ruling was served to her and myself today [June 1, 2015]. We have 20 days to appeal, and we hope this ruling will be overturned by the Appeals Court,” said Moghimi, Faraghdani’s lawyer.
The activist’s charges are “assembly and collusion against national security,” “propaganda against the state,” and “insulting the Supreme Leader, the President, Members of the Parliament, and the IRGC [Revolutionary Guards] Ward 2-A agents” who interrogated her.
The ultimate test of any individual or nation comes when they are faced with views and ideas that they do not agree with and in the above case Iran has completely and utterly failed.
The Internet and social media has granted individuals a public platform that enables them to express views that would have in previous decades been locked away within the domain of quiet whispers that never saw the light of day. Now dissenting voices can shout loudly and be listened to. Why oh why would Iran sentence Atena Farafhdahi to twelve years and nine months in jail for the “crime” of sharing on Facebook cartoons that criticised members of the Iranian parliament? Well it is a bit more than one cartoon, because she wrote about what was going on and also dared to visit families of political prisoners and protesters who were killed at the Kharizak Police Detention Center in 2009, in the aftermath of the disputed presidential election – she was being listened to. The heavy handed Iranian response is how they operate, it is designed to send a very clear loud message to all and has been especially crafted to instil fear and silence all such voices.
Iran is supposedly a democratic state, but this action reveals that they simply create the illusion of being one. It is like this because they operate within a very narrow band of thinking, and thoughts outside that narrow band will not be tolerated. The symptom of a healthy democratic state is one where public criticism of those in power is not simply acceptable but is often a national hobby, and nobody (including those in office) consider it to be in any way unacceptable. When a sentence like this is issued, then in the eyes of the watching world it is actually a sentence against themselves, for by doing so they confirm themselves to be completely and utterly undemocratic and also grossly intolerant of basic human rights.
- Amnesty International is campaigning for her rights.
- Amnesty Press Release