11/29/16 UPDATE: Zunar has written to supporters saying that the artwork from last weekend’s exhibition remains in police hands and that he must report back on December 27th for “further investigation”. In addition two organisers of the event have been questioned.
11/27/16 UPDATE: Zunar has been released.
FREE! 1 was released with police bail just now pic.twitter.com/oZmI1zNfVx
— Zunar Cartoonist (@zunarkartunis) November 27, 2016
11/27/16 UPDATE: Zunar’s Twitter feed states that he will be released from police custody today, 17:00 local time, 09:00 GMT. We await further news.
11/26/16 – Within 24 hours of reporting about the disruption of Zunar’s latest cartoon exhibition in Penang we were dismayed to hear of his arrest.
The news is carried by The Star and confirmed via Zunar’s Twitter feed as below:
admin: Zunar was arrested again under The Sedition Act because of cartoon exhibition. now in polis station in penang
— Zunar Cartoonist (@zunarkartunis) November 26, 2016
Prior to his arrest, Zunar wrote to supporters around the world as follows:
Today (25th Nov 2016) I was forced to call off my exhibition in Penang, 4 hour drive north of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia due to an attack by pro government thugs. I was verbally abused, physically attacked, and my artworks were vandalized.
More than 30 thugs stormed into my newly launched exhibition in a public area. They were aggressive, hostile and abusive. Some of them assaulted me. I was fortunate that a few members of public came to my rescue. The few policemen who turned up were unable to control the thugs and they had to call in the anti riot unit.
The thugs demanded that I take down the exhibition and some of them proceeded to destroy my artworks.
So, to summarise: within one afternoon Zunar exhibited some political cartoons in a Penang shopping centre, was counter-protested and allegedly man-handled by a group from UMNO, police broke up the scrum, the cartoons were removed (or perhaps damaged), the event was cancelled and Zunar was arrested for “breach of the peace”.
The supreme irony of the situation is that this arrest has been made under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act 1948, the very law to be challenged as unconstitutional buy Zunar and his lawyers in January.
The UMNO official whose complaint to police apparently led to the arrest gives his account of Friday’s events here, a version that is disputed by a local councillor here.
CRNI maintains as always that political cartoons constitute freedom of expression which is a fundamental human right as well as a legitimate, legal and entirely peaceful form of protest. We condemn this arrest unreservedly, the tenth time Zunar has been detained in this fashion.
The story has also been picked up by our friends at Cartooning For Peace and United Sketches.