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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.

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.