The trial of Malaysia’s political cartoonist Zunar (Zulkiflee SM Anwar Ulhaque) on sedition charges, originally scheduled for July, has been postponed until the court rules on the constitutionality of the law the cartoonist was charged under. Zunar’s nine sedition charges over tweets he made following a politically charged trial carry a possible 43-year prison term. The possibility of a jail sentence has not side-lined Zunar, who in an interview with the South China Morning Post said: “The job of political cartoonists everywhere in the world is to criticise the government of the day. But in Malaysia, that is not enough. When you live in a repressive regime, you not only criticise, you have to fight. My job is to fight through cartoons.”
An international cartoon competition has been launched to highlight discrimination against women and promote gender equality with the theme The Presence of Women in Public Spaces, sponsored by the prestigious École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (ehess).
The event is in collaboration with “Close Up on Iranian Women,” an independent group of feminists, rights activists and journalists “involved in ﬁghting gender-discrimination under all its guises.”
The deadline for the submission of original work is September 15, 2015.
Complete information on submitting artwork and a list of the competition’s awards available in French and English here.
Cut and paste the following into your email
Subject line: Atena Farghadani
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei,
President Hassan Rouhani
Head of Judiciary Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani
I am writing to protest the sentence handed down against Iranian artist Atena Farghadani, and to urge her conviction be overturned and Ms. Farghadani freed.
Freedom of expression and association are universal human rights recognized by all civilized nations, including Iran as a signatory to the UN’s International Human Rights Conventions. The arrest and sentencing of Atena Farghadani is a clear violation of those rights, and also of Iran’s own statutes and international agreements. It cannot be allowed to stand.
In the interest of justice and to demonstrate its recognition of universal human rights, Iran must release Atena Farghadani.
Thanks for supporting Atena Farghadani and CRNI!
An Open letter to:
The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei;
President Hassan Rouhani;
Head of Judiciary Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani
Cc: Mr. Gholamali Khoshroo, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the UN; Mr. Hamid Babaei, Third Counsellor, Press Office, Islamic Republic of Iran UN Mission
We understand Iranian artist Atena Farghadani has been sentenced to 12 years 9 months in prison, her appeal to take place within twenty days, and with regard to that appeal would hope you take the following into consideration.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is a party to various Articles within UN International Human Rights Conventions; including Article 19 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ”The right to freedom of opinion and expression,” and Articles 19, 21 and 22 of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights mandating “The right to express an opinion and freedom of expression” and “The right to freedom of association.”
We are particularly concerned that that right to freedom of opinion and expression through the drawing of a cartoon should be attacked by the Iranian authorities, especially since — as noted by Atena Farghadani’s lawyer — “activities on social networks on the Internet [in Iran] are not recognized as crimes.” In addition to that, President Rouhani himself has pledged “support for the Freedom of Speech in Iran’s newspapers, magazines and websites,” with the Minister of Culture reiterating such encouragement. Foreign Minister Zarif also noted during a TV interview that: “We do not jail people for their opinions.”
Many Human Rights organizations and the UN believe that arresting, charging and sentencing Atena Farghadani for such activities contravenes the above-mentioned rights, and it is of concern to the international community as it moves into a new era of international co-operation with Iran.
The United Nations, and World Human Rights organizations, consider Atena Farghadani to be a prisoner of conscience, presently held for the peaceful exercise of her rights to freedom of expression and association. Being a party to the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, we would hope you could see that too.
Since news of Atena Farghadani’s sentence has been announced, and circulated internationally, many people and organizations are expressing concern that it does not correspond with the direction Iran stated it was taking with regard to Human Rights — and cannot understand how such could continue, in particular with relation to the international co-operation now developing between Iran and other nations, which, as with Iran, would be rightly challenged when injustices occur within their own legal systems.
To inform the world that Iran, as with fellow co-signatories, is complying with the Articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, it would be hoped that you would reconsider the sentence on appeal, and that the conviction and sentence would be quashed. The world looks on — hoping Iran will, in good faith, free Atena Farghadani in this era of international co-operation — and in so doing prove that Iran is indeed a supporter of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, along with other internationally accepted human rights, a vital condition and component within this new era of international co-operation that we are hopefully heading towards.
With best regards,
Dr. Robert Russell
Cartoonists Rights Network International
Iranian artist-activist Atena Farghadani has been handed a 12 year prison sentence by Tehran’s Revolutionary Court for posting a cartoon in protest of legislation to restrict birth-control and make divorce more difficult in her country. The illustration, in which Iran’s parliamentarians were depicted with animal heads, was posted on Farghadani’s Facebook page. After spending nine months in prison awaiting trial, during which time she reportedly suffered a heart attack while on a hunger strike, Farghadani has been found guilty of “insulting members of parliament through paintings” and “insulting the Iranian supreme leader.” The 28-year-old painter had also been charged with “gathering and colluding with anti-revolutionary individuals and deviant sects” for contact she had with families of political prisoners and followers of the Baha’i faith during a painting exhibition. In 2014, Farghadani posted a YouTube video documenting police abuse during a previous incarceration. [Full Story]
[CRNI is now taking nominations for its annual Courage in Cartooning Award. Go here for information.]
As his sedition trial approaches, Malaysian cartoonist Zunar continues to speak out against civil rights abuses by the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak. During an interview with The Guardian’s cartoonist Martin Rowson at London’s Free Word Centre on May 16th , an event cosponsored by free-speech advocacy groups Index on Censorship and Article 19, Zunar vowed once again to draw until his “last drop of ink, adding that, for political cartoonists: “Talent is not a gift — it’s a responsibility.” Zunar’s trial is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, May 20th. [UPDATE: Zunar’s trial date has been moved to July 7] The cartoonist has been charged with nine counts of sedition over a series of tweets he made in February following a court decision in a case involving opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. Zunar faces a possible 43 years in prison if found guilty. [More]