Home Web Specials Editorial cartoonists Zunar and Angelo Lopez in conversation

Editorial cartoonists Zunar and Angelo Lopez in conversation

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On 9 June, Malaysian editorial cartoonist Zunar and Filipino American editorial cartoonist Angelo Lopez talked about Zunar’s fight against censorship and intimidation by the Malaysian government, how Malaysia’s sedition law is used to silence critics, and the fear that authoritarian governments have of political cartoons.

Zunar, whose real name is Zunar Anwar Haque, is a cartoonist who has been drawing editorial cartoons for the past 20 years in Malaysia.

With the slogan “How can I be neutral, even my pen has a stand”, Zunar has drawn cartoons exposing the corruption and abuse of power committed by the government of Malaysia through his art.

At one point, the government even imposed a travel ban on Zunar to prevent him from travelling abroad.

On 25 November 2016, Zunar was forced to call off his exhibition in Penang after an attack by pro-government thugs. On the following day, Zunar was arrested, detained and investigated under two laws: the Sedition Act and the Penal Code.

Zunar faced nine charges under the archaic Sedition Act and a possible 43 years’ imprisonment. He was detained and locked behind bars twice under the Sedition Act – the first time in September 2010 for two days and on 10 February 2015 for three days.

Five of his cartoon books were banned by the Malaysian government on the grounds that the contents were “detrimental to public order”. His office in Kuala Lumpur has been raided a few times and thousands of cartoon books confiscated. Printers, vendors and bookshops have been harassed. Three of his assistants were arrested. The webmaster, who manages his website and online bookshop, was called in by the police for questioning.

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Zunar was selected by Amnesty International as the first Malaysian for their biggest annual international campaign “Write for Rights (#W4R) 2015”.

Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI) awarded Zunar the Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award in 2011.

He was the 2011 artist-in-residence of the BilbaoArte/Fundacion and BBK, Spain. He also won the Human Rights Watch Hellman/Hammett Award for 2011 and 2015 and the Cartooning For Peace Award for 2016 in Geneva.

The Committee to Protect Journalists in New York awarded Zunar the International Press Freedom Award for 2015.

Produced by: Angelo Lopez

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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