Ramón Nsé Esono Ebalé, an Equatorial Guinean cartoonist who works under the pen name Jamón y Queso was detained by government security officers on September 16th. Seized in a restaurant in the capital city, Malabo, Ebalé is being held without charge.
Human Rights Watch reports:
“The arrest of the cartoonist, Ramón Nsé Esono Ebalé, is the latest episode of government retaliation against artists who have used their work to criticize the government. EG authorities should repeal the country’s colonial-era defamation statute, which allows for the criminal prosecution of people who criticize the president and top government officials. They should abandon any plans to charge Ebalé under that law and, if he is accused of no other crime, release him immediately and without charge.”
“Prosecuting a cartoonist for unflattering satirical drawings is incompatible with free speech and only highlights the power of the pen,” said Sarah Saadoun, researcher at Human Rights Watch.
See the full report from Human Rights Watch here: https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/09/19/equatorial-guinea-political-cartoonist-arrested
Cartoonist Rights Network International urges people to contact the Equatorial Guinean government and express their concern for the welfare of Ebalé and demand his immediate release.
An easy email form for the Equatorial Embassy can be accessed here
CRNI in partnership with the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is sponsoring some incredible workshops in Africa, South Africa and Palestine. These workshops will engage future cartoonists and empower current cartoonists.
Palestine workshop leader, Mohammad Sabaaneh, hopes that in conjunction with the Freedom Theater, they will enhance undergraduate’s awareness and knowledge of the importance of cartooning as an indicator for the democracy and freedom of speech. The workshops will take place over a series of weekends in September. Mohammed has been a client of CRNI for about five years. He was imprisoned by the Israeli Defense forces and held incognito for about a year, we advocated for his release with other organizations and he was finally released. He has published a number of cartoon books of his work, and in 2015 he became one of our regional representatives representing Palestine and the Middle East. He is known as an equal opportunity critic, often being in as much trouble with the Israelis as with Hamas or with the PLO. The Freedom Theatre offers a range of cultural activities, including drama workshops, theater performances, a three-year professional theater school and training in stage management; photography, film making and creative writing.
On September 26th, Accra workshop leader, Ike Essilfie-Essel, is bringing awareness to the global violation of human rights and equipping cartoonists with the knowledge and tools to maintain their safety. Ike Essel, is an old friend with CRNI. More than a decade ago, Ike helped organize the very first meeting of all the major and minor cartoonists in Ghana. Sponsored by Cartoonists Rights Network, the workshop brought together the young, upcoming cartoonists with their cartoonist heroes. The chance for them to meet with each other for the first time was a life-changing experience for most of them. Because of the meeting they could all put faces to the cartoons that they adored and saw every day and suddenly a new network of cartoonists was pulled together, Cartoonists Ghana.
On September 9th & 10th, Cape Town workshop leader John Curtis, will host a panel discussion and workshop for South African editorial cartoonists, who face increasing threats to their freedom of expression, impacting their ability to hold powerful individuals accountable, implement social justice and uphold democratic principles. Curtis is hosting this workshop in conjunction with Cape Town’s annual Open Book Festival’s Comic Fest . Curtis is an award winning editorial cartoonist, who founded Africartoons nine years ago, on Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday. Africartoons hosts a network of professional and amateur cartoonists, the largest online archive of African editorial cartoons (25,000+) and 720,000 Facebook followers.
A huge thank you to the National Endowment for Democracy for partnering with CRNI on this endeavor as it implements our strategy to help young emerging cartooning organizations develop themselves administratively and conceptually.