The government of Malaysia has announced the banning of my cartoon book, “Sapuman: Man of Steal” under the Printing and Presses Act as per press report yesterday (3 October 2017).
Previously, my other books – Gedung Kartun, 1 Funny Malaysia, Isu Dalam Kartun (Vol 1, 2, 3), Conspiracy to Imprison Anwar, Perak Darul Kartun and Pirates of Carry-BN – were also banned. Meanwhile Ros in Kangkongland and other titles are investigated under the Sedition Act.
This is just one of the long list of harassments and intimidation by the BN governenment. Since 2009, my office in Kuala Lumpur has been raided a few times and thousands of my cartoon books have been confiscated. The printers, vendors, and bookstores around the country which carry my cartoon works were also raided. I was arrested several times and now facing nine charges under The Sedition Act. The government also bans me from traveling abroad since June 2016.
I dont make fantasy cartoons. My cartoons are results from my reaction on current issues, especially on corruption. For instance, the cover of Sapuman is about 1MDB Scandal which involves billions of Ringgit. If there was no IMDB scandal, I would not produce this particular cartoon. Do not blame the cartoonist if politicians steal billions.
The ban comes a month after Prime Minister Najib’s meeting with President Trump in Washington. Surely the Prime Minister has picked up some lesson. If Trump has Islam-O-Phobia, Najib has Cartoon-O-Phobia!
Let’s make it clear — if the government does not like my cartoons (I do not expect they will), I have no problem with it. But you cannot translate your interpretation into law by banning a book of my thoughts. This is against the Federal Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression.
I have discussed with my lawyers and will file the legal challenge soon.
I would like to reiterate that this ban will not stop me from drawing cartoons to expose corruption and injustice. You can ban my books, you can ban my cartoons, but you cannot ban my mind. When the government is faulty, drawing cartoon is a duty.
October 4, 2017
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.
Zunar, the Malaysian cartoonist accused of sedition and living under a travel ban, has announced he is suing his persecutors.
“Today I filed a suit against the Malaysian government and the police over my illegal arrest and the illegal seizure of more than 1,000 of my cartoon books during my program with fans in December last year. Next step is for the court to set a hearing date.”
We reported about the arrest and confiscation of books at the time.
Zunar’s troubles have continued through the intervening months. Just a few weeks ago he cancelled another public event after receiving threats from government supporters.
To Report a Cartoonist in Danger Email Cartoonists Rights Network International