Iranian artist receives harsh jail sentence
Last month, in our report on the plight of Iranian artist and human rights activist Atena Faraghdani, above, who had gone on trial for posting ‘objectionable’ material on the Internet, it was pointed out that, if convicted, she could face up to two years’ imprisonment and lashes.
Well, she has been convicted – and handed a sentence of 12 years and six months!
The activist was found guilty of “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.
Faraghdani’s lawyer, Mohammad Moghimi, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that under Article 134 of Iran’s New Islamic Penal Code, the sentence should be reduced to 7.5 years imprisonment.
Following five months inside Gharchak and Evin Prisons, Faraghdani was tried at Branch 15 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court under Judge Salavati, a “notorious” judge who is consistently handpicked to preside over “national security” cases that security and intelligence organisations bring against political and civil activists, because of the harsh sentences he imposes.
Moghimi noted that one of the pieces of evidence used against his client was her sharing of a cartoon depicting members of the Iranian Parliament as animals on her Facebook page.
Other evidence included Faraghdani’s critical writings on her Facebook page, and her visits with 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.
Meanwhile, it is reported here that Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court has upheld the sentence of 1,000 lashes and ten years of imprisonment on blogger Raif Badawi, above, despite international protests over his harsh punishment.
Speaking from Canada, his wife Ensaf Haidar told the BBC she feared his punishment would start again on Friday.
Badawi was arrested in 2012 for “insulting Islam through electronic channels”.
Saudi authorities sent his case for review amidst global protests, after the first round of lashes in January.
For four years Badawi ran the Liberal Saudi Network, which encouraged online debate on religious and political issues.
In March, the kingdom expressed “surprise and dismay” at international criticism over the punishment. At the time, the foreign ministry issued a statement saying it rejected interference in its internal affairs.
News just in: Saudi Arabia has just hosted an international conference on human rights, attended by the president of the UN Human Rights Council.
The conference, according to this report, urged all member states to combat:
Intolerance and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons based on religion or belief.
In addition, participants agreed on the importance on providing human rights education and encouraging religious and cultural diversity in communities.
Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, reacted with disbelief:
It’s bad enough that the oppressive and fundamentalist Saudi monarchy was elected to sit on the UN Human Rights Council.
But for top UN human rights officials to now visit Jeddah and smile while human rights activist Raif Badawi languishes in prison for the crime of religious dissent, still under threat of further flogging, is to pour salt in the wounds. It’s astonishing.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn (Badawi and human rights reports)