CRNI’s 2002 Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning was given to Paul-Louis Nyemb Ntoogueé, aka Popoli (“the people”), from Cameroon. The award was given in recognition of his many years personal sacrifice in the face of repeated attempts to silence him, and as part of our campaign to spotlight his case, and bring additional pressure on those in power to relent.
Popoli’s troubles with the government of President Paul Biya began in late 1991, when he was arrested and tortured for marching in a public demonstration for freedom of the press. Popoli was subsequently threatened with arrest in 1992, for a series of cartoons about government corruption, hiding in a swamp for 20 days until matters cooled down. He was arrested and interrogated again in 1996, before all charges were dropped.
From that point onward, Popoli became the target of escalating threats of violence. In August 1998 two strangers assaulted the cartoonist at his office. A few days later Popoli fled the country after being tipped off that he would be attacked again, this time along with his younger sister. The day he fled the country, officers invaded his house and left behind the written threat that they would kill him by a thousand machete cuts if he continued to draw “disrepectful” cartoons of President Biya and the First Lady.
After briefly seeking asylum in South Africa, and then through the Canadian Embassy in Pretoria, Popoli decided to return to Cameroon. As he explained to CRNI, “I’d rather be buried by friends in my village than continue to live in fear among strangers.”
Threats and pressure continued, escalating into violence again in late 2001, when Popoli was dragged from his car and severely beaten by Security Officers. Shortly afterwards he was arrested, ostensibly for a cartoon which referenced the First Lady’s long-rumored past as a prostitute.
CRNI’S CAMPAIGN: CRNI stayed actively engaged in Popoli’s case and protection from when he first contacted us from South Africa in 1998. We established a fund to help him pay for his daily needs during exile, and assisted in his efforts to seek asylum. We also connected him with a local human rights group, which provided him an office and computer to stay connected with his family and his publisher.
CRNI then sent letters detailing and protesting Popoli’s mistreatment to the United States Embassy, Cameroon’s Ministers of State and Public Security, and directly to President Biya.
We sent similar letters after the subsequent violations of Popoli’s human rights in 2001 and 2002, strongly urging the United States Ambassador in Yaoundé to personally bring Popoli’s case to the attention of his counterpart in the Cameroonian government, which he did.
Shortly afterwards, the harassment stopped. Popoli reported back to us that the same police who had beaten him before now approached him saying, “What good friends we are now, Mr. Popoli,” a clear sign that their supervisors had advised them he was now officially off-limits for further harassment.
CURRENT STATUS: In 2004 Popoli started the Cameroonian CRNI affiliate, Coup d’Crayon. He continues to live in Camaroon, where he remains a leading voice for the people in their fight against corruption, and for a free press and the free exchange of ideas.
PROFIL – Nyemb POPOLI – Pays by AFRICA24
CURRENT STATUS: After many years in exile, Nik is now a Canadian citizen. He currently lives and works in Washington DC, where he also actively serves on the Board of CRNI.
Our first annual Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning was given to Turkish cartoonist Dogan Guzel in June of 1999. In July of Dogan received a 40 month prison sentence for drawing a cartoon that called the state “weak”, and for publishing his cartoons in the Kurdish language. He served one year of that sentence. Learn about Dogan’s plight in our Eastern Europe section of our Art to Die For collection.
On 31 July 1998 Güzel was arrested and charged for alleged defamation and threat to the state and the armed forces. The prosecution on the basis that four, from May 1993 to October 1993 published cartoons in the Özgür Gündem where Güzel the term “lax Turkish Republic” as used in a satirical manner. Güzel was sentenced for these caricatures of 10 months, for a total of 40 months imprisonment. According to the Law 4454 of 28 August 1999, which makes it possible to suspend fines and the journalists for three years on probation, as well as due to massive protests of international journalists’ associations (including Reporters Without Borders ), was Doğan Güzel by President Süleyman Demirel pardoned and on 16 . September 1999 together with the sentenced to 100 years in prison writer Ismail Beşikçi released.
Güzel worked for issued from May 1992 pro-Kurdish newspaper Özgür Gündem . He developed the cartoon character Qirix (Kırık). The Qirix stories were published daily in the Özgür Gündem and after its closure in the succession newspaper Özgür Ülke. They acted as a satirical companion of the violent rich conflict in the Kurdish regions of Turkey.
The newspaper Özgür Gündem was exposed in Turkey for alleged violations of anti-terror laws and the promotion of separatism repeated reprisals, there were numerous killings of journalists and their sellers, and attacks on the publisher. Following a bomb attack on the editorial Istanbul and Ankara in December 1994, she was finally set.
In April 2000, Güzel was imprisoned again.
Due to the strained against him court proceedings Güzel left Turkey, and now lives in Spain. He has been a regular contributor to the daily Kurdish newspaper Yeni Özgür Politika, and his Kurdish cartoon character QIRIX is a regular feature in the newspaper Özgür Gündem
Doğan Güzel has also made illustrations, for example, for the 1998’s historical novel “Ataların Karşılaşması” by Cemal Resid Ahmed ( ISBN 9789757112204 ).
The arrest and seizure had and continue to have … [full story]