Solidarity-with-Zunar protest in Washington

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Zunar reports on a protest in support of cartoonists’ rights outside the Malaysian Embassy in Washington DC yesterday.

I took part in a “Free Cartoonist” protest at the Malaysian Embassy in Washington DC yesterday (12 Sept).

The solidarity-with-Zunar protest was jointly organised by the Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI) and Amnesty International.

The objective of the protest was to urge the Malaysian government to stop using draconian laws such as the Sedition Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act to harass me as a cartoonist.

The government has been using this law to stop me from criticising and exposing corrupt practices.

Seven of my books are banned by the Malaysian government, I was detained under the Sedition Act, my office was raided twice by enforcers, the printing factories that printed my books are constantly raided and vendors throughout the country are often warned not to sell my books.

Present were the Executive Director of CRNI Dr Robert Russell and his deputy Andrew Rougier Chapman, coordinator of Amnesty International Becky Farrar and her team.

Besides me, cartoonists who also took part were 2012 Pulitzer Prize winner for Editorial Cartoons Matt Wuerker, exiled Iranian cartoonist and winner of the Courage in Editorial Cartooning award Nik Kowsar and renown American cartoonist Jeff Parker.

The protest lasted about 45 minutes.

We chanted criticisms of the Malaysian Government, among others: “Who has the right to draw? Zunar! Who is afraid of cartoons? Malaysian government!”

Towards the end I took the loud hailer and called the embassy officer to come out and meet us. Two officers came out but declined to identify themselves or their rank. I then introduced our members and told them the purpose of the protest. They declined comment.

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I will be in Washington DC and in New York until 18 September to take part in the American Cartoonists Editorial Conference as a guest and to meet Malaysian activists.

Zunar is a Malaysian political cartoonist and recipient of the Courage in Editorial Cartoons 2011 award conferred by Cartoonist Rights Network International
(12 Sept 2012)

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