A jailed Iranian political cartoonist sentenced to 12 years and nine months in prison might have her jail time extended for doing an ‘unpardonable sin’ in the restrictive Islamic republic – shaking hands with a man. A handshake with a man is “illegitimate sexual relationship short of adultery” according to Iran’s laws and, therefore, 29-year-old Atena Farghadani is due to be due to be tried over the handshake with her lawyer Mohammad Moghimi while the latter visited her in prison. Moghimi, too, is in the dock, the Independent reports
Farghadani was jailed in January 2015 and sentenced in June due to her satirical cartoons depicting Iranian government ministers as monkeys and goats.
The cartoon that landed Farghadani in prison. HuffPost
Amnesty has now launched a petition demanding her release. It claims that the Farghadani was tried for just half an hour on “evidence” extracted under interrogation. Her crime was that she protested through her cartoons the Iranian government’s plan to outlaw voluntary sterilisation and to restrict access to contraception. She was first arrested and jailed in August 2014 but was released in November.
She had in December spoken of her ordeal at the Evin prison and written to the top leaders of Iran, including Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, though she never got a reply.
Iran has a deplorable human rights record especially against women. The case of Ghoncheh Ghavami is still fresh in the memories of Iranians and the world.
The British-Iranian was jailed for trying to watch a men’s volleyball game in Tehran. The 26-year-old had to spend five months in the Evin prison before the charges were dropped probably because of pressure from a high-profile objection by the international volleyball federation
which threatened to bar Iran from hosting international games. Farghadani is said be on a hunger strike in prison, quite like Ghavami did during her ordeal. Meanwhile, the Amnesty has crossed 10,000 signatures
and she is receiving support from other cartoonists as well.