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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.

Cartooning Global Forum

December 13, 2018 in Events, General

The Surreal McCoy writes:

Monday (December 10th) was the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Earlier this year in October I was asked to attend the first Cartooning Global Forum day at UNESCO in Paris, to represent PCO (paying my own train fare). I made several useful contacts at this forum for future collaborations and will be following up with them in due course. Finally got to meet Malaysian cartoonist Zunar, (pictured below with Terry Anderson) who has finally had his travel ban lifted. (The next forum is being planned for October 2019, in between the weekends at St Juste.)

  

Photo ©The Surreal McCoy

Opening remarks from Terry Anderson, Deputy Executive Director, CRNI and PCO member:

 ÉTATS GÉNÉRAUX DE DESSIN DE PRESSE UNESCO – 03/10/18 WORKING SESSION 1 REDUCED INEQUALITIES and PEACE, JUSTICE & STRONGER INSTITUTIONS

Dear colleagues, it’s a great pleasure to open the morning’s discussion on the topics laid out by Jérôme. These are lofty goals but if we believe in the power and value of cartooning as a medium then I don’t think it is beyond us to contribute toward their realisation. And if this forum is the beginning of a truly global co-operative undertaking by all cartoonists’ organisations, something I confess by own has tried and failed to create in the past, then so much the better.

Briefly: no conversation in this context and setting on the topic of peace could begin without acknowledging the contribution of our friends at Cartooning For Peace, and especially so soon after the loss of their honorary president Kofi Annan. We send them our best wishes and commend their exemplary work in the promotion of cartooning as a means of crossing barriers of understanding and promoting human rights, tolerance and peace.

Nor can we gather in this city and fail to remember the singular atrocity that unfolded on its streets in January 2015 and how for one moment it seemed as if the planet was galvanised and united by a single sentiment, Je Suis Charlie. There are participants here today who lost loved ones and friends on that day; we grieve with them and honour their courage.

Over the intervening years we’ve heard much about cartoonists as “canaries in the coal mine” and how our problems are early indicators of a wider, insidious and worsening chilling of freedom of expression. I’ve used the metaphor myself in the past but increasingly I dislike it as it implies a degree of fragility and dispensability. We are not victims or victims in waiting. We are essential to the health of press and media and therefore crucial to democracy. I would cite last year’s Humor Amenaçat initiative in Spain and the subsequent distribution of the Illegal Times freesheet as an excellent example of cartoonists and their allies pro-actively taking an urgent message directly tothe populace without awaiting a gatekeeper’s say-so. They were ahead of the curve; the FreeMuse anticensorship organisation later declared Spain the world’s top jailer of musicians, specifically rap artists protesting their government.

 We kid ourselves if we believe the problems addressed by the UN’s SDGs are reserved wholly to the developing world.

CRNI knows the primary threat to cartoonists’ freedom comes from authoritarian governments, so I hope we’ll hear from those of you here who have first-hand experience of persecution by the state, by corrupt officials, military or police personnel. Share with us the means by which cartooning has exposed the malaise afflicting the societies in which you work. Where and when do you think cartooning has resulted in palpable change? For those who have come from larger organisations that work toward the goals of social justice and peace, have you used cartoons? If so, in what way and was if effective? If you would never use cartoons, tell us why. What lessons can we cartoonists glean from others’ willingness or resistance to the use of our work?

We are asked today to consider inequality. In very recent weeks we have seen how a cartoon proffered on one side of the world as fair comment can be interpreted on the other as an unwarranted, racist and misogynistic attack. No quarter was given in the ensuing debate; humourless snowflakes on one side, unrepentant white supremacists on the other. Very little humility or grace. Some (but hardly enough) acknowledgment of a bigger problem. Around the world editorial cartooning remains stubbornly male and, even in the multicultural west, largely white. We can do a better job of reflecting the diversity of experience and the inequalities that lie therein only if we are likewise as diverse. How may we at last achieve that? Positively discriminate and risk accusations of favouritism? Rely on merit, assuming a level playing field that simply doesn’t exist? For those who have encouraged newcomers into the profession, tell us about who wants to be a cartoonist in the digital media century and what we need to do to make our sphere a welcoming place for all. For those who have written policy with equality at its heart, guide us on best practice. And then more widely, tell us about projects you have undertaken that were designed to reach audiences not served by the typical press cartoon; the poorest or least educated in your society and minority groups of every classification.

Inevitably there will be some overlap with the work to be discussed this afternoon. It’s virtually impossible to talk about education without including inequality and vice versa. So do not be afraid to introduce an idea here that can be returned to later. But for those still seeking a way to grasp the matter at hand, for me these two broad goals can be boiled down to a single word: fairness. So consider, how do we make our profession fairer and how may our work make the world fairer?

OPENING REMARKS TERRY ANDERSON, DEPUTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CARTOONISTS RIGHTS NETWORK INTERNATIONAL

Terry Anderson speaking at the forum. This and the headline photos ©DR Studio-irresistable/E.K.

You can download a full copy of the the report from the Global Cartooning Forum here.

Zunar is giving a talk ‘Laughter As A Political Tool’ at University College London on 17th January. Here’s a link for more details and for booking tickets.

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

August 3, 2012 in General, Links, News

Drawn points us to a public reply by cartoonist and illustrator Alec Longstreth, in response to a request for spec work. It’s always worth remembering that cartoonists should be paid for their endeavours, so be sure to give it a read.

Malaysian cartoonist Zunar has won his claim against the country’s government over the seizure of 66 of his books and a collage in 2010. Read more about the case here.

British comics enthusiast Phil Shrimpton – who has more than 4,500 copies of The Beano and Dandy – has started trading his collection online. Meanwhile, Procartoonists.org member Tim Harries gets nostalgic about the Beano on his blog.

As always, please feel free to comment below – and also to point us towards any stories we might have missed.

Round up : What the Bloghorn saw

July 16, 2011 in Comment, News

Rob Murray writes:

More details are emerging about The Phoenix, a new weekly comic from the former editor of the short-lived DFC that is due to launch in January. The Phoenix blog features an animated trailer for one of its strips, The Pirates of Pangaea by Daniel Hartwell and Neill Cameron, while its latest email newsletter provides this interactive teaser for a strip by Dandy cartoonist Jamie Smart.

Saudi Arabia’s lone female newspaper cartoonist, Hana Hajjar, tells CNN about the importance of her role in a male-led society and how her cartoons speak out for women. You can read the interview here (thanks to fellow cartoonist Lou McKeever for spotting the story).

In Malaysia, cartoonist Zunar has been unsuccessful in his attempt to lift a ban on two of his cartoon collections, according to news agency Bernama. Zunar was arrested in September under the country’s Sedition Act for publishing books considered ‘detrimental to public order’. An open letter from Chuah Siew Eng of Malaysia’s Centre for Independent Journalism calls the latest decision disappointing. Zunar intends to appeal.

Timed to coincide with the release of the final Harry Potter film, cartoonist Lucy Knisley has launched a humorous comic that condenses the entire series. Time Out Chicago has the full story, and Knisley’s blog features an incredibly detailed poster to download (but beware of spoilers!).

If there is something Bloghorn really shouldn’t really have missed please add it in the comments below. Thank you.