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Rights groups and cartoonists ask Iranian President Rouhani to help free artist Atena Farghadani

Over 40 rights groups signed the letter to President Hassan Rouhani below, asking him to build on Iran's recent freeing of prisoners of conscience by interceding with Iran's judiciary in the case of cartoonist Atena Farghadani.

An unrolled cup used by Atena to make art in prison, since confiscated.
An unrolled cup used by Atena to make art in prison, since confiscated.

ATTN:
President Hassan Rouhani
Pasteur Street, Pasteur Square
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

February 22, 2016

Your Excellency,

Our organization, along with the undersigned organizations and individuals, are happy to learn that as a result of the new chapter of relations with the international community, your government was able to approve the release of a number of prisoners of conscience, including The Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian.

Building on this very positive action, we ask your excellency to start a conversation with the Judiciary to free cartoonist Atena Faraghdani who is now in prison for publishing on the Internet a symbolic cartoon. Atena has been sentenced to 12 years 9 months in prison, awaiting final verdict for the court of appeal.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is a party to various Articles within UN International Human Rights Conventions: including Article 19 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “The right to freedom of opinion and expression,” and Articles 19, 21 and 22 of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights mandating “The right to express an opinion and freedom of expression” and “The right to freedom of association.”

Your excellency, you have pledged “support for the Freedom of Speech in Iran's newspapers, magazines and websites,” and Foreign Minister Zarif also noted during a TV interview that “We do not jail people for their opinions.” Many Human Rights organizations and the UN believe that arresting, charging and sentencing Atena Farghadani for such activities contravenes the above-mentioned rights. It is also of concern to the international community that her continued imprisonment contravenes the spirit of a new era of international co-operation with Iran.

The United Nations, and other World Human Rights organizations, consider Atena Farghadani to be a prisoner of conscience, presently held for the peaceful exercise of her rights to freedom of expression and association. Being a party to the UN's International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, we would hope you could see this too.

We hope that you are able to convince the Judiciary to reconsider her sentence on appeal, and set aside her conviction and sentence so allowing her to immediately return to her family.

The world looks on — hoping Iran will, in good faith, free Atena Farghadani in this era of international co-operation — and in so doing prove that Iran is indeed a supporter of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, along with other internationally accepted human rights, a vital condition and component within this new era of international co-operation that we are hopefully heading towards.

With best regards,

Dr. Robert Russell,
Executive Director of Cartoonists Rights Network International,

and the organizations and individuals below:

ARTICLE 19
ActiveWatch – Media Monitoring Agency
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
Association for Civil Rights
Belarusian Association of Journalists
Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Cartoonists Rights Network International
Center for Independent Journalism - Romania
Committee to Protect Journalists
Freedom Forum
Free Media Movement
Gulf Centre for Human Rights
Human Rights Network for Journalists - Uganda
International Federation of Journalists
MARCH
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
Media Foundation for West Africa
National Union of Somali Journalists
Norwegian PEN
Observatorio Latinoamericano para la Libertad de Expresión - OLA
Pakistan Press Foundation
PEN American Center
PEN Canada
PEN International
Social Media Exchange - SMEX
South East European Network for Professionalization of Media
Vigilance pour la Démocratie et l’État Civique
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

Danish PEN
Centre Québécois du PEN international
Comité de femmes du Centre québécois du PEN international
English PEN
Finnish PEN
Kurdish PEN Centre
San Miguel (Mexico) Centre of Pen International
Pen International Women Writers Committee
Pen Bangladesh
Pen Melbourne
Pen South Africa
Swedish PEN Centre

International Cartoonists

Brian Adcock, Guardian UK
Sahar Ajami, Norway
Nick Anderson, Houston Chronicle, USA
Terry Anderson, Scottish Cartoon Art Studio, Scotland
Gary Barker, UK
Xavier Bonilla/Bonil, Ecuador
Rupert Besley, UK
Steve Bright, The Sun, UK
Carlos Brito, Portugal
Steve Breen, San Diego Union Tribune, USA
Bernard Bouton, president Federation of Cartooning Organizations, France
Chris Cairns, Scotland
Daryl Cagle, USA
Patrick Chappatte, International New York Times
Kate Charlesworth, UK
Dave C. Cherry, USA
J.D. Crowe, Alabama Media Group, USA
Christian Daigle, Canada
Michael de Adder, Canada
Matt Davies, New York Newsday, USA
Andy Davey, UK
Vincent Deighan, (Frank Quitely) Scotland
Steven ‘Lectrr’ Degryse, De Standaard, Belgium
Sergii Fedko, Ukraine
Christian Fedele, Italy
Noel Ford, FRSA, UK
Foundation Press and Print cartoonists, the Netherlands
Ganzeer, Egypt
Scott Griffin, USA
Fadi Abou Hassan, Norway
Graham Harrop, Canada
David Horsey, Los Angeles Times, USA
Steve Jonesy, UK
Kal Kallaugher, The Economist, USA
Vladimir Kazanevsky, Ukraine
Nik Kowsar, Canada
Graeme MacKay, Hamilton Spectator, Canada
Lewis MacKenzie, Scotland
Bruce MacKinnon, Halifax Chronicle Herald, Canada
Ferran Martin, Catalonia, Spain
Josko Marusic, Croatia
Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle, USA
Kanika Mishra, India
Pedro Molina, Nicaragua
Greg Moodie, The National, Scotland
Terry Mosher/Aislin, Canada
Dan Murphy, Canada
Francis Odupute, Nigeria Observer, Nigeria
Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee, USA
Geoff Olson, Canada
David Parkins, USA
Stephan Pastis, Pearls Before Swine, USA
Mike Peters, Mother Goose and Grimm, USA
Joel Pett, Lexington Herald-Leader, USA
Marlene Pohle, Argentina
Michael Ramirez, Investors Business Daily, USA
Hajo de Reijger, Netherlands
Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, USA
David Rowe, Australia Financial Review
Martin Rowson, The Guardian, UK
Tjeerd Royaards, Cartoon Movement, Netherlands
Cristina Sampaio, Portugal
Miguel Villalba Sánchez “Elchicotriste”, Spain
Kevin Siers, Charlotte Observer, USA
Jen Sorensen, USA
Scott Stantis, Chicago Tribune, USA
Bill Stott, Chair, Professional Cartoonists’ Organization, UK
Manos Symeonakis, Cartoon Movement, Netherlands
Ann Telnaes, The Washington Post, USA
Adán Iglesias Toledo, Cuba
Tom Toles, The Washington Post, USA
Zach Trenholm, USA
Wes Tyrell, President of the Canadian Association of Ed Cartoonists
Shan Wells, Durango Telegraph, USA
Signe Wilkinson, Philly Daily News and Philadelphia Inquirer, USA
Karl Wimer, USA
Matt Wuerker, POLITICO, USA
Zunar, Malaysia
Adam Zyglis, Buffalo News, USA

Friends of Cartoonists

Jean Schulz, Charles M. Schulz Museum, USA
Mehdi Amini, Afghanistan
Carol Lange, USA
Drew Rougier-Chapman, USA
Chris Bliss, MyBillofRights.com, USA
Will Durst, Durstco, USA
Mark McKinney, Miami University, USA
Carl Nelson, USA
Joan Mower, Voice of America, USA
Ambassador Cynthia Schneider, USA
Zeina Zahreddine, Canada

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