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Cartoonists Gagged again

July 20, 2019 in Events, General, News

Media crews filming the Gagged exhibition wall. 

Our GAGGED exhibition on the suppression and censorship of cartoonists around the world had another outing last week. It was displayed at the international conference ‘Defend Media Freedom’ in London. The conference was instigated by the UK and Canadian governments.

Media freedom is in decline worldwide. It was reported that the number of journalists jailed for their work is at the highest level since the 1990s. We’ve seen an increase of cartoonists around the world being harassed, imprisoned and censored.

Amal Clooney with Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland and UK’s Foreign Secretary (at time of going to press) Jeremy Hunt.

One of the main speakers was human rights lawyer Amal Clooney who said ‘journalists are under attack like never before’. She added that after the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Istanbul Saudi Arabian embassy last year, world leaders responded with ‘little more than a collective shrug’. She went on to single out Donald Trump and commented that ‘the country of James Madison (one of America’s founding fathers and a champion of a free press) has a leader today who vilifies the media.’ There have been a number of cases recently where cartoonists in the States (and Canada) have had their work censored and lost long-standing work.

Jeremy Hunt spoke of meeting Malaysian cartoonist Zunar who suffered years of persecution and restrictions but is now enjoying more freedom since the regime change in his home country.

A powerful and colourful mural being painted live by ArtLords a street art collective from Afghanistan. Here’s an Index on Censorship film about them.

Every plaque on the wall names a media worker killed over the past years, 99 died worldwide in 2018 alone.

PCO member Alex Hughes from Drawnalism was transcribing the talks in cartoon form (he produced more work in two days than I do in a year)

Terry Anderson (Cartoonist & Deputy Exec Director, CRNI) with Jodie Ginsberg (Chief Executive, Index on Censorship)

A gagged Marshall  

In September GAGGED is moving on to the Saint-Just Cartoon Festival in France.

Freedom of Expression Awards 2019

April 8, 2019 in Events, General, News

Congratulations to our friends at Cartoonists Rights Network International for winning the Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award for CAMPAIGNING.

The impressive awards ceremony was held in London last Thursday evening and hosted by comedian Nish Kumar.

Index on Censorship described CRNI as “a small organisation with a big impact: monitoring threats and abuses against editorial cartoonists worldwide. It is a lifeline for cartoonists in danger across the world.”

CRNI Deputy Executive Director Terry Anderson after accepting the award.

In his speech Terry Anderson said: “Like virtually no other profession the cartoonist makes it their business to remind the citizenry that the emperor is naked.”

Terry kindly mentioned the support they have had from Procartoonists. Many of our members have contributed to campaigns for the likes of Zunar, Ramón Nsé Esono Ebalé, Free Turkey Media and of course drawn fish for Eaten Fish.

Terry also praised International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) who offer refuge to writers, journalists and artists at risk of persecution. They’d been instrumental in the release of Eaten Fish.

The full speech can be seen here.

Ali Dorani (Eaten Fish) with Terry Anderson

Two cartoonists who benefited from CRNI backing had flown in specially to attend the awards. Zunar, a cartoonist who faced 43 years in prison for criticising the Malaysian government and Ali Dorani, AKA Eaten Fish, the Iranian cartoonist who spent four years interned in Australian-run Manus Island refugee internment camp.

Painting by © Zehra Doğan

All the award winners were incredible as indeed were all the nominees. I was particularly taken with the story of Kurdish artist and journalist  Zehra Doğan. She has only recently been released from a Turkish prison after being jailed for painting the destruction of a town in Turkey’s Kurdish region. When in prison she wasn’t allowed to have artists’ materials so drew on newspapers or old milk cartons using crushed fruit, herbs and even blood as paint with bird feathers to draw. Zehra won the award in the ARTS category.

One of the wonderful award cartoons by © Doaa el-Adl.

Winners were presented with cartoons especially drawn by Egyptian cartoonist Doaa el-Adl.

All the winners (L to R) Carolina Botero Cabrera, executive director of ‘Fundación Karisma’, DIGITAL ACTIVISM winner; JOURNALISM winner Mimi Mefo; Terry Anderson of CAMPAIGNING winner CRNI and ARTS winner Zehra Doğan. Photo © Elina Kansikas for Index on Censorship

Details of all the winners can be seen here.

For anyone interested in supporting Index on Censorship their CEO Jodie Ginsberg launched ‘The 1972 Club’ a membership scheme that funds their work as well as giving you great benefits.

Photo via © Rachael Jolley

Terry doing some painting and decorating on the wall at the new Index on Censorship office earlier in the day.

Laughter as a Political Tool

January 31, 2019 in Events, General

The excellent and courageous Malaysian cartoonist Zunar (Zulkiflee Ulhaque) recently gave a talk entitled ‘Laughter as a Political Tool’ at the Institute of Advanced Studies, University College London. There was also an accompanying exhibition of his campaigning cartoon work.

Zunar speaking at the event (pictures of him in handcuffs featured heavily as he’s frequently been arrested)

Back in his home country he has faced continued harassment and censorship for standing up against government corruption. His books have been banned and the printers harangued for publishing them. His Kuala Lumpur studio has been raided and thousands of his books confiscated. He’s been arrested on numerous occasions and some of his exhibitions have even been physically attacked. He was charged under the Sedition Act and faced the prospect of 43 years in prison. He was also banned from international travel up until last year.

The discussion was focused on how humour can be used to challenge existing political structures and was part of the IAS Laughter programme of events.

Cartoon by © Zunar

Zunar told the story of how the Head of Police ordered his arrest via Twitter – since then he has playfully tucked a drawing of the police chief using a mobile into many of his drawings (see above cartoon)

Zunar with CRNI’s Terrry Anderson (and a drawing I did of him during the talk)

He also spoke passionately about the need to stand up against political injustice and corruption. He said ‘How can I be neutral? Even my pen has a stand’.

Zunar was presented with the Cartoonists Rights Network International Courage Award in 2011.

Thankfully things have eased up for him since the regime he pilloried has been removed from office (although he joked that he will really miss drawing former Prime Minister Razak and his wife Rosmah who gave him so much material)

Zunar with The Guardian political cartoonist Martin Rowson at the exhibition after the talk. Martin described Zunar as one of the bravest people he’s ever met.

Cartoon by © Zunar

More can be read about Zunar’s long fight in this Guardian article.

He is planning a book about his experiences and will hopefully be visiting the UK again later in the year to talk about it.

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.

The Round up

December 22, 2013 in Events, General, Links, News

Kasia Kowalska writes:

The Winter Solstice is behind us and the traditional festive fun is in full swing.

Christmas season is upon us © Martin Honeysett @ procartoonists.org

© Martin Honeysett @ procartoonists.org

Also high on the agenda is freedom of speech after the London School of Economics apologised to two students who had been banned from wearing T-shirts featuring cartoons of the prophet Mohammed and Jesus Christ.

Twitter was also accused of losing its sense of humour. The microblogging site ran into trouble when it removed tweeted cartoons by the Indian political cartoonist Manjul.

The truth Hits Everybody art by Daniel Clowes :: scanned from 20th Century Eightball :: Fantagraphics Books :: 2002 © procartoonists.org

The truth hits everybody. Art by Daniel Clowes from 20th Century Eightball by Fantagraphics Books 2002 @ Procartoonists.org

The Hollywood actor Shia LaBeouf is likely to be crossed off Daniel Clowes’ Christmas card list following accusations that he plagiarised the Ghost World creator’s 2007 comic Justin M. Damiano in his short film HowardCantour.com. Removal of accreditation for cartoonists in this age of digital ubiquity is a not an uncommon experience as a similar story from Rachel Duke illustrates.

Moving from theft to sharing, the CEO of Bitstrips has rebuffed claims that the social-media platform is a flash in the pan. The self-generated storytelling programme was the second most downloaded app in the world during November. Stuart Dredge found out why.

Movie interactives mashups from the Guardian © procartoonists.org

Matt Blease drawing for the Movie Mashups interactive app at The Guardian website @ Procartoonists.org

We note, see above, that other sites are also following this new fad. (Yes, we are looking at you The Guardian).

Seventeen years ago this month one of the founders of Private Eye, Willie Rushton, died. Adam Sonin remembers him as “the greatest satirist of them all” and explains the origins of the eccentric radio game Mornington Crescent.

For all the culture vultures out there, desperate to avoid last-minute Christmas shopping, there is still a chance to see The Age of Glamour at the Cartoon Museum which ends on Christmas Eve. Also, Cartoons and Caricatures at the Bank of England finishes on 31 December and The National Theatre’s Lampoon exhibition will end on 5 January.

Trippin' through the rain @procartoonists.org

Trippin’ through the rain from Toddles’s Comic Almanac 1862 @ Procartoonists.org

If you would rather stay inside than brave the current weather, you can always entertain yourself by trying out different cartoon styles. Which is exactly what Mike Holmes did when he created 100 cartoons of himself and his cat.

A Merry Christmas to us all.

Updated: 24th December with the sad news that political image maker Leon Kuhn has died.

work_pay © Leon Kuhn @ procartoonists.org

© Leon Kuhn @ procartoonists.org