“SHE refused to be brought down.”
Those are the words of Cartoonist Rights Network International, in awarding its 2015 Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award this week to Atena Farghadani, the long-jailed Iranian artist who this summer was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison for her editorial art and community activity critical of the government.
“Atena is among the most courageous humanitarians we know of,” Robert Russell, founder of the Northern Virginia-based CRNI, tells The Post’s Comic Riffs of the group’s pick.
“When they tried to intimidate her with physical torture, she just punched right back — she refused to be brought down,” Russell says. “Her imprisonment under this regime is one of the most unjust acts in Iran’s modern history.”
Farghadani, 29, was arrested last August in her home after posting on social media a cartoon that depicted members of Parliament as mindless animals, following a vote curbing reproductive rights.
After the Iranian artist was released last November, she spoke out about the abuses she said she endured in infamous Evin Prison. She was arrested again early this year and sentenced several months later. (Note: Comic Riffs launched the #Draw4Atena campaign to urge artistic response.)
“This year, the decision about the award recipient was easy,” says Russell, in likening Farghadani to other noted heroines. “It was a unanimous decision by the CRNI board of directors.”
The staff of Charlie Hebdo was also considered for CRNI’s honor, Russell notes, but the board weighed that Farghadani has received less world attention and fewer accolades compared with the French satirical weekly since the attack at its offices in January left a dozen people dead.