Atena Farghadani talks of her appalling treatment by the Iranian authorities
Amnesty International’s fortnightly series ‘In Their Own Words’ launched on 17th March with the story of Albert Woodfox, an American who spent 44 years in solitary confinement. Other episodes include the story of Khadjia Ismayilova, an investigative journalist from Azerbaijan who was imprisoned and framed by her own government for exposing political corruption. Then there is Steve Kelly, who became a human rights activist after his brother, Mike, was tragically killed in the Hillsborough football disaster.
The success of the first series which featured, among others, Chelsea Manning and Chen Guangcheng (voiced by Michelle Hendley and Christian Bale respectively) has resulted in a second set of broadcasts, concluding with Atena Farghadani’s story, her words voiced by UK-Iranian actress Nazanin Boniadi.
Atena’s episode is a distressing tale of a young woman being subjected to the most degrading treatment simply because she drew pictures depicting authority figures as animals.
The 30-year-old Iranian was freed one year ago after an international campaign for her release – she had been due to serve 11 more years in prison – but she isn’t free of the nightmare. Atena was given a three-year suspended sentence for ‘insulting Iran’s leader’ – which means that she could still be sent back to prison at any point until May 2019. This is a common tactic to try to deter former prisoners from speaking out.
It is a testament to her courage that she will not be silenced.