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Eaten Fish Thanks

December 22, 2017 in General, News

As many will have seen, young Iranian cartoonist Ali Doarani’s (AKA Eaten Fish) ordeal in Papua New Guinea is now over.

He has been moved to a safe country aided by ICORN (The International Cities of Refuge Network) who promote freedom of expression and offer sanctuary around the world to writers and artists under threat.

Ali had been in detention on Manus Island since 2013 living in harsh conditions, which badly affected his health. His cartoon record of his time on the island was widely shared and published. In 2016 CRNI handed Ali the ‘Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award’.

PCO and CRNI protest outside the Australian Embassy in London

The PCO has been pleased to help in a small way by launching the #AddAFish digital campaign. We’d like to thank our members and cartoonists from all corners of the world who contributed to the huge digital shoal of fish we created with their drawings.

The poster for the Herne Bay exhibition

Particular thanks to Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival who allowed us to display the banner, and Herne Bay Cartoon Festival who put on an exhibition and workshop in support of the appeal.

The Eaten Fish Tanks

Thanks also to Westminster Reference Library in Central London who displayed an ‘Eaten Fish tank’ as part of the recent ‘Gagged’ Exhibition.

We were honoured to be involved with other organisations and campaigners around the world who also fought for Ali’s cause.

Very good news indeed and we wish Ali well!

However, we do not forget the refugees who remain in Papua New Guinea living in such a perilous environment as well as all the cartoonists around the world who are being persecuted for their work.

Gagged Ungagged Talk

December 18, 2017 in General

Andy Davey writes:

I was honoured to be asked by those nice people at Procartoonists to “host” an evening of interviews and talks to accompany the “Gagged” exhibition of cartoons at Westminster Reference Library on the subject of the oppression, censorship and gagging of political cartoonists around the world. My experience of hosting is limited to the point of zero, so I therefore accepted with trepidation but nevertheless with complete admiration for the cartoonists who have suffered for their art and reportage. As it turned out on the evening, my admiration was justified and afterwards I felt very humbled by the experience.

Martin Rowson shows a blank slide of a cartoon censored by The Independent

The quality of the speakers was excellent. First up was the Guardian’s own superbly scatalogical Martin Rowson, giving us a short history of poo in print and advice on how to successfully offend just about anybody in power.

Cartoon by © Zunar

The evening then turned somewhat digital via Skype interviews and screenings of films of various cartoonists who fight their political systems despite hardship. A poignant dramatic intervention occurred here – we had booked the heroic Malaysian cartoonist Zunar to speak to us via video link but we could not establish connection. It was later revealed that his no-show was due to his arrest and confiscation of his phone and computer. He faces 43 years in jail because of his criticisms of the Malaysian PM but continues to draw because he feels that it is his duty to do so. Against this, it’s impossible not to feel absolutely humbled. The world needs obstinate, moral, courageous people like Zunar.

Cartoon by © Khalid Albaih

Our second cartoonist interviewee was no less impressive. Khalid Albaih, a cartoonist from Sudan (via Romania and the US) who now resides in Denmark in order to freely publish his political cartoons in a democratic environment. His cartoons (usually wordless) were used widely in Arab Spring demonstrations but he would not be able to publish such “seditious” work in those countries. Khalid was very eloquent and passionate about his need to draw political cartoons but has chosen not to associate himself with any media outlet for fear of being censored or corrupted. Consequently, he has a day job and draws at night.

Cartoonist Andy Davey with Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of Index on Censorship. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

This was followed by a rearguard action from the estimable Jodie Ginsberg from Index on Censorship, showing the visceral power of angry political cartoons from around the world and how they have been suppressed, sometimes brutally.

Video call with Robert Russell. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Lastly we were privileged to speak to Robert Russell, the founder of Cartoonists Rights Network International – a man who has probably done more than any to help and support dozens of imprisoned, harassed and endangered cartoonists around the world.

All of this must remind us of how lucky we are in western democracies. But it is useful to remember that, even in the UK, the conditions that allow satire to flourish are not fully met. Censorship exists in practical terms because of the severe bias of the traditional media.

The future of cartoons may well be that modelled by Khalid Albaih – radical, delivered via independent social platforms…but unpaid. And the message that emerged from the evening was that cartoons most certainly have a future. Each contributor underlined the importance of political cartoons, particularly in societies with a democratic deficit.

A film of the event will be available to view online in the new year.

Cartoonists’ rights supported by worldwide organisation

February 22, 2015 in News

 

Click pic above or HERE to see the CRNI’s website

RECENT EVENTS have underlined the precarious nature of many cartoonists’ work. Living in a world where a graphic comment on a delicate situation can result in studios being invaded by machine-gunning terrorists or public discussions being ambushed by rifle-toting madmen, cartoonists along with journalists and other public commentators find themselves in the front line of defence of freedom of speech.

While the book Draw the Line Here, conceived by English Pen (the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation’s only role in this project, albeit the key one, is to provide the cartoons), is entering the final production phase under the management of Crowdshed, another organisation with similar activities is worthy of publicty.

Cartoonists’ Rights Network International “defends the creative freedom and human rights of editorial cartoonists under threat throughout the world”.

For example:

One face of our success
Nikahang “Nik” Kowsar’s story is typical of the brave editorial cartoonists CRNI fights on behalf of throughout the year. In February of 2000, he was arrested and interrogated for six days at Iran’s notorious Evin Prison in Tehran. His crime? Drawing a cartoon critical of a politically powerful imam. CRNI subsequently gave Mr. Kowsar our 2001 Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning, drawing international attention to his plight.

Cartoon by Nikahang "Nik" Kowsar: Nikahang.blogspot.com

By 2003, his situation had become untenable. He was forced to flee after credible death threats, leaving behind his wife and daughter. After he was safely settled in Canada, CRNI and other human rights organizations continued to assist Mr. Kowsar during his five-year fight to bring his family to join him, which he finally won in 2008.

Since then Nik has redoubled his dedication, creatively and professionally, to the cause of freedom of expression globally, as well as in his native Iran. This fervent lifelong commitment includes serving on CRNI’s Board of Directors, where his passion has been as invaluable as his personal experience.

Cartoon by Nikahang “Nik” Kowsar: Nikahang.blogspot.com”

NikKowsarThumbnail

The CRNI is launching an indiegogo campaign to raise $40,000 for its ongoing operations.  Click here to see the details.

Cartoonists in peril

July 15, 2009 in Comment

najialaliCartoonists in this country might be feeling the pinch at the moment, but at least they don’t work under the threat of arrest, assault or even death.

In Honduras recently, cartoonist Allan McDonald (interview) was detained for 24 hours, had his studio ransacked and cartoons and drawing materials destroyed following the publication of several cartoons supporting ousted president Manuel Zelaya.

Similarly, in Mexico cartoonist Mario Robles was recently given the Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning by the Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI) after a cartoon mocking a crackdown on public demonstrations led to death threats and an assualt.

In Iran, cartoonist Behzad Basho is being held in prison following the recent post-election uprising, and fellow Iranian Nik Kowsar is currently living in exile in Canada following arrests and death threats.

These threats and assaults are nothing new – in 1987 Palestinian cartoonist Naji al-Ali (previously in Bloghorn) was murdered outside the London offices of a Kuwaiti newspaper. A collection of his cartoons, A Child in Palestine, has recently been published in the west for the first time.