CRNI defends the creative freedom and human rights of political cartoonists under threat throughout the world. We strengthen the interconnectedness of all political cartoonists and organize resources for their communication, local development and education.
On the front lines of free speech
In many parts of the world, editorial cartoons are the most widely read and remembered opinion pieces in the popular press. As a result, editorial cartoonists are frequently the first journalists targeted by extremists, thugs, and tyrants; especially in places where press and personal freedom are most fragile.
Working with our global network of over 600 cartoonists in 50+ countries, CRNI diligently monitors threats and abuses against editorial cartoonists ranging from censorship, fines and penalties, and physical intimidation (including of family members), to assault, imprisonment, disappearance, and execution.
We stand by those at risk, bringing international pressure on their persecutors by mounting campaigns for their just treatment, among the public at large and within the diplomatic community; as well as reaching out to heads of state and ministries, and coordinating joint actions with other organizations that promote free expression.
To date, our efforts have directly impacted the freedom and well-being of editorial cartoonists in close to 50 countries, all across the globe.
CRNI is a nonpartisan organization. We do not take a position on the political opinions of cartoonists. We advocate for the free exchange of ideas, for the rights of each individual to have and to express opinions, and for the public’s right to access the work of these courageous, committed, and gifted journalists and artists.
One face of our success
Nikahang “Nik” Kowsar’s story is typical of the brave editorial cartoonists CRNI fights on behalf of throughout the year. In February of 2000, he was arrested and interrogated for six days at Iran’s notorious Evin Prison in Tehran. His crime? Drawing a cartoon critical of a politically powerful imam. CRNI subsequently gave Mr. Kowsar our 2001 Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning, drawing international attention to his plight.
By 2003, his situation had become untenable. He was forced to flee after credible death threats, leaving behind his wife and daughter. After he was safely settled in Canada, CRNI and other human rights organizations continued to assist Mr. Kowsar during his five-year fight to bring his family to join him, which he finally won in 2008.
Since then Nik has redoubled his dedication, creatively and professionally, to the cause of freedom of expression globally, as well as in his native Iran. This fervent lifelong commitment includes serving on CRNI’s Board of Directors, where his passion has been as invaluable as his personal experience.