Kurdish female cartoonists in Iran facing death threats

In Iran the Kurdish female caricaturist Atena Farghadani and painter Atena Daemi are facing death threats due to the cartoons they draw critical of the system.

Cartoonist Atena Farghadani, one of those artists who are subject to the Iranian regime's pressures, was released from prison not long ago. But now death threats are being hurled at her. Her colleague Atena Daemi, who is working as an illustrator has gone on a hunger strike while still in prison.

Both Kurdish female artists happen to bear the same name. And both are defying the system with their cartoons and drawings, fearless to face the backlashes that are to be expected.


The ‘crimes’ of the human rights activist, feminist and cartoonist Atena Farghadanî cannot be counted on one hand. Drawing cartoons, campaigning in favour of the abortion right, visiting families of political prisoners and so on... After she met with some families of political prisoners in Iran and painted a cartoon picking up this very issue, Atena's caricature became viral on social media, what consequently rendered her to a target. In that cartoon she portrayed the true relation between the regime and the prisons, depicting the leading figures of the regime in 'animal' forms.

Atena Farghadanî was jailed for two months in the Evin prison and was released on the 6th November 2016 on a very high bail. In December 2014 she published on You Tube one of her creations, that pictured and criticized the conditions and circumstances of the incarceration in Iran's Evîn prison. On this matter, she was imprisoned once again on the 10th of January 2015.

In protest at her arrest and the bad treatment, she went on a hunger strike on the 9th February 2015. After suffering "a heart attack and losing consciousness" she was transferred to the hospital for a short time on the 26th February. On 3 May 2016 the court of appeal reduced her prison sentence and Atena was finally released. With her cartoons and caricatures, Atena opposes against the system that renders the body of the woman to a tool of reproduction. Now she is facing death threats, accused of "insulting the great leader of Iran".


Political activist and painter Atena Daemi is, like her namesake, one of those women accused of "committing a heavy crime". The public got to know Atena Daemî for the first time out of nowhere through her cartoons thematising forced migration and war, and her activism for the children of Kobanê and Gaza. Atena Daemi was imprisoned for her political work the first in October 2014 and sent to the Evin prison. In March 2015 she was given a prison sentence of 14 years in a hearing that lasted 15 minutes at the Revolution Court of Tehran. In September 2016 the appeals court reduced the sentence to 7 years.

Atena went on a hunger strike on the 8th April to protest the torture and bad treatment she is subject to, and ended it on the 31st May. The family's contact with Atena has been completely cut off. Also about Atena's health problems that occurred as a result of her hunger strike, no information whatsoever has been obtained.