Young Artist Sentenced to More than Twelve Years in Prison Continues to Defend Baha’is’ Right to Higher Education


Source: Free Atena Farghadani (facebook group)

Translation by Iran Press Watch

Atena Farghadani (1) has been recently sentenced to more than 12 years in prison(2). She has written the following text in her defense:


Before 2009, I always asked myself: why can some people still not earn a decent living, no matter how hard they work?  Or: why are some young children forced to perform heavy labor?  Or: why are some people executed at the hands of some others?  I always asked myself: why am I able to study at university, but some people, such as the Baha’is, are deprived of an education due to their religion?  Or why my father always told me: “Never speak about politics or especially the Supreme Leader in taxis or at the university”?  Before 2009 most people had no answer to these questions; but in 2009 I saw and received answers to many of my “whys”.

After 2009, any time I was present at the funeral or the memorial anniversary of these dear ones, since not only were the murderers of these dear ones never found, but the regime also targeted them for insults and attacks, I always aimed for fellowship, and tried to be the cause of comfort, because I felt that we are all from the same family. If I worked against capital punishment, it was because I do not see execution as a humane or right kind of punishment ‒ be it the execution of a drug smuggler, or that of elements of the regime, or of a political activist.  I imagined my family in the shoes of the family of those executed, and felt that we are all members of the same family.

If I protest about Baha’is’ lack of a right to higher education, it is because I have placed myself in the shoes of a Baha’i, and felt that they too are just like any member of my family. Anyone of any religion, race, and beliefs should have the same citizenship rights, and there should be equality amongst the people in a society. If I made that cartoon of one of the Members of Parliament, it was because I believed that if anyone chooses the field of the arts, and is talented ‒ but does not use their art to reflect the problems of society ‒ then they have betrayed their own conscience as well as their society.

But regarding insulting the Revolutionary Guards Corps and the three branches of the government during the interrogation: the Guard agents continuously repeated the same sentence, saying: “Ms. Farghadani ‒ fear God, you have sold your family to your ideology and goals, and are not willing to compromise, and you are not willing to tell us the names of your friends.” And they kept repeating: “Your mother has ended up in the hospital because of you”, they pressured me to the point that, finally, what has been kept in many people’s hearts over so many years just poured out of me in a loud and expressive voice in the interrogation room!

Is it other than the truth that we all are multiple families in the heart of one big family called humanity?  Haven’t we always claimed that the human family is like the various organs of the same body, and was created from the same substance?  Don’t we always say that what you want for yourself, you should want for others?  Has my crime been my efforts to implement these slogans in my community?

Finally I have to say in the court of my own heart, where my conscience is the judge, I stand proud and honored.

I kiss the hands of every member of my family, one by one: my mother for teaching me pride and perseverance, my Father who taught me strength, my sister who taught me to be a free-thinker, and my brother who taught me curiosity and willfulness.


1. An earlier article on Atena Farghadani can be found here:



3 Responses

  1. Kim Bowden-Kerby

    June 8, 2015 11:39 pm

    May the Almighty protect and comfort His blessed daughter, now suffering in prison for exercising the basic human right of freedom of thought and peaceful freedom of expression. Dear Atena – please consider me your older, loving sister in a faraway land.

  2. Homan

    June 11, 2015 6:45 am

    how I feel for these precious souls who pay a heavy price for being human, raising their voice when injustice prevails. You’re in our prayers. May God protect you and give you and your family strength to persevere through these turbulent times and triumphantly raise further awareness about the unity of mankind as humanity can only truly progress once its unity is realized. We are all the fruits of one tree and our diversity makes this a beautiful world which must become the cause of celebration, moving us to see one another truly as members of our own family


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