Serious Health Fears for Artist on Prison Hunger Strike
March 2, 2015
Iranian prisoner of conscience and artist, Atena Farghadani, could be on death’s door after being hospitalized following a hunger strike lasting three weeks. Amnesty International is urging the Iranian authorities to release her immediately and unconditionally.
“Atena should never have been imprisoned in the first place. Her repeated arbitrary arrest and detention for her artistic work is a flagrant assault on freedom of expression,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards first arrested Atena Farghadani on 23 August 2014. They searched her house, confiscated her personal belongings and took her away, blindfolded.
She was then held for five days in solitary confinement in Section 2A of Evin Prison, which the Revolutionary Guards control, before being transferred to a cell shared with Ghoncheh Ghavami, a British-Iranian prisoner of conscience arrested for protesting women’s exclusion from volleyball. Atena Farghadani was held in solitary confinement for another 10 days after she started a hunger strike in protest at her detention.
According to a video message Atena Farghadani posted in late December following her release, female prison guards at Evin Prison had beaten her and subjected her to degrading body searches and other ill-treatment for trying to continue her painting in prison, using discarded paper cups and flowers from the exercise area.
“The [female prison guards] were whispering…‘why does she want the cups?’ One of them was saying ‘rewind the film back’.... One of the guards opened the cell door violently…and shouted ‘take off your clothes’. I told them that what they were doing was illegal…one of the guards who swore a lot held my hands up, because I was resisting the body search… My right hand hit the wall and my wrist became swollen and bruised…I told them that I was on ‘dry’ hunger strike and that I would file a complaint. One of them told me ‘shut your mouth or I will hit you so hard that your mouth will be full of blood’.”