Urgent: award-winning cartoonist Zunar under threat in Malaysia needs support

May 19, 2016
On 3 May 2016 Malaysian cartoonist Zunar was one of the winners of the international Cartooning for Peace Prize [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/05/04/cartoonists-gado-kenya-and-zunar-malaysia-get-2016-cartooning-for-peace-prize/].
Back home the backlash has started and he has asked for support:
– Malaysian ministers threaten him anew;
– a government-backed NGO is going to protest at Kofi Annan’s office.
The award was presented by ex-UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, and the winners were given a chance to exhibit their artworks at Lac Léman in Geneva. Zunar’s cartoons covers issues such as corruption, freedom of expression, conspiracy against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, and the new National Security law.
In reaction Deputy-Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi hinted that the police may take action on him. Ahmad Zahid added that he hopes that Zunar will repent and find other ways to express himself. “I think in this regard, I am seeking Allah to open his (Zunar) heart so that he quickly repents and uses other approaches to express opposing opinions,” he said ( http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2016/05/14/zahid-hopes-zunar-repents-criticise-but-dont-insult/ )

Previously, Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Keruak said in a media statement that Zunar’s exhibition in Geneva is an insult to the PM and part of a collective effort to topple the Prime Minister. He also said that besides giving a negative image of Malaysia to other countries, such actions were seen as sabotaging the national economy and affecting the confidence of investors in Malaysia. ( http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2016/05/12/salleh-frowns-at-zunars-overseas-exhibitions/ )
In a related development, a Malaysian government-backed NGO wants to do a protest in front of Kofi Annan’s office in Geneva to press him to withdraw the award to Zunar. This is the transcript of the clip shown by national TV’s news: https://www.mediafire.com/?d9x92gwhd2f4q4m.  “We will go to Switzerland, we will meet this person who gave this Zunar the award, Kofi Annan. We will send a memorandum of protest, and we will hold a peaceful demonstration in front of his office if he retract, the award given to Zunar
[For years, Zunar has been subjected to all sorts of harassments and intimidation, was arrested and put behind bars twice and is now facing nine charges under the Sedition Act and facing possible 43 years jail if found guilty. Seven of his books have been banned, his office was raided several times, thousands of books and original drawings and printing plates were confiscated, his sale assistants and on-line sales manager were arrested.]
But Zunar – whose motto is: “How Can I be Neutral, Even my Pen Has a Stand” – stands firm: “I would like to reiterate that talent is not a gift, but a responsibility. It is a duty of a cartoonist to expose corruption and injustices. Freedom of expression is not a prerogative of the government, but it is my right!

2 Responses to “Urgent: award-winning cartoonist Zunar under threat in Malaysia needs support”

  1. […] Zunar, an award-winning cartoonist whose cartoons are directed towards fighting the tyranny and corruption of the government of Malaysia, was turned back at the airport on 17 October 2016. [see https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/05/04/cartoonists-gado-kenya-and-zunar-malaysia-get-2016-cartooning-for-peace-prize/ and https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/05/19/urgent-award-winning-cartoonist-zunar-threats-malaysia-supp…]. He is as talented with the written word as with drawings, so I let him speak for himself: […]

  2. […] 4, 2019 Having blogged about cartoonists as human rights defenders (se e.g.https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/05/19/urgent-award-winning-cartoonist-zunar-threats-malaysia-…), it is a pleasure to refer to a long piece in CNN  written by James Griffiths on 29th March […]

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