Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Atena and the Law of the Jungle


Atena Farghadani has been convicted to 7 and a half years of imprisonment (the article says 12 years and nine months, we keep getting varying reports) on the charges of "acting against the security of the state", "spreading propaganda against the system", "insulting members of parliament through her painting skills" and "insulting the Supreme Leader and the Iranian revolutionary guards".

The usual suspects in terms of legal allegations on behalf of a despotic regime.

This time directed at a young artist in Iran for speaking up on the right of women. She is now imprisoned for the second time after speaking up on the barbarity she had experienced in prison. Her description alone of how she attempted to create a sheet of paper to work on by flattening used paper cups, only to be found out and seriously punished for it is heart-wrenching. This is an artist constantly under surveillance to deprive her of her voice, even when trying her utmost to find an outlet for it. She has been denied finishing her master's degree in painting as part of her sentence. 


Mana Neyestani, Atena and the Law of the Jungle, Jun 3, 2015.


And her crime? This drawing below, which is from late last summer on the members of parliament voting against a bill on the free right to certain types of contraception. 

To declare oneself insulted by a drawing is the very proof of having recognized oneself as having been drawn.

We for our part cannot see any personal likeness. There are no insignia, no personal characteristics besides oversized jackets and a bowl into which paper notes are being collected. 

Justice is but a screen, as Mana Neyestani has drawn to speak up for Atena. The shadow will invariably reveal the truth. Within one cartoon we have the full story from the one pencil, its artist in peril and the malady of the society in which the pencil was used. Note the bias of the sword having cut through a part of the drawing in which it does not touch any of the animals.


Photo from the Facebook-page Free Atena

Atena herself insists on coupling the "I" to the greater picture. According to the Facebook page Free Atena the statement below was her defense in which we meet a strong voice of the "I" taking personal responsibility for her actions and laying out a rationale of why she did as she has done. So let us give the word to Atena; the excerpt below is from said Facebook page Free Atena:


"Before 2009, I used to ask myself: why some people cannot afford their food even if they try so hard, or why some little kids have to do heavy jobs, why some people should be executed by other people, I always asked myself why I am able to study in university but some people like Baha’is are denied education because of their beliefs, or why my dad always advised me not to talk about politics in university or taxi, specially about the leader! I got a lot of my answers in 2009.

If after 2009 I was present by the graves of 2009's martyrs or I joined their funeral was because that their murderers were never found and government also insulted and treated them with a disrespectful attitude, I just tried to heal their families, because I felt we are all members of one family.

If I did anything against execution it is because I think that execution is an inhumane and false punishment, doesn't matter if it's a drug trafficker's execution or a political activist. I imagined my family in their families' position and I felt we are all one family.

If I objected that why our Baha’i compatriots don't have the right to study was because I imagined myself in their position and I felt they are members of my family and each person with any nations, beliefs, and thoughts should have the same and equal rights and equality should run in society.

If I drew that cartoon of assembly representatives it was because I believe that if someone choose arts as their subject, but do not criticize the issues of their society, they have betrayed themselves, their conscience and their society."


The cartoon shown is courtesy of Mana Neyestani and must not be reproduced without his permission.

As for the drawing of Athena Farghadani, please spread it as widely as possible. Let her situation be known and the imbecility of those drawn be seen.


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