Zunar’s Statement: Support from celebrated artists / activists boosted me
The fight through cartoons receives new level of morale booster when celebrated artists and activists around the world rally up for a show of support. American singer, songwriter, actor, and social activist Harry Belafonte explains why he is taking action for me.
“All my life I have used my art to fight for social justice. So when I see freedom of expression under serious attack, I must act,” said Belafonte.
“That is why I stand with Amnesty International today in demanding justice for courageous Malaysian cartoonist Zunar, who is facing decades in prison for political Tweets he sent in February. I am proud to lend Zunar my voice today,” he added. Please refer to the link:
Belafonte has won three Grammy Awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, an Emmy Award, and a Tony Award. In 1989 he received the Kennedy Center Honors. He was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1994.
In 2014, he received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Academy’s 6th Annual Governors Awards.
Last week, Chinese contemporary artist and activist Ai Weiwei showed his support by holding up my picture in London to highlight my case. In 2012, Ai Wei Wei was ranked 3rd in ArtReview’s guide to the 100 most powerful figures in contemporary art: Power 100. On 21 May 2015, Ai, along with the folk singer Joan Baez, received Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award, in Berlin for showing exceptional leadership in the fight for human rights, through his life and work.
It is also a great booster when top journalist, Christiane Amanpour quoted my philosophy during the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award introductory to acceptance speech in New York City last month. “…like Zunar, say that the responsibility is so much greater than the fear…”.
See the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMWmqQLTu8c&feature=youtu.be
Others who also showed support is multiple award-winning cartoonist, Garry Trudeau, the creator of Doonesbury. These solidarity are very important not only for me, but also to highlight the shrinking space of freedom of expression and human rights in Malaysia.
In my global campaign, I always give a strong emphasis on the Sedition Act, the demands by Bersih and the conspiracy against Anwar Ibrahim. I would like to thank Amnesty International who has chosen me as one of ten individuals in the world for their “Write for Rights” global campaign.
Since then I have received numerous support from artists, activists and people around the world, mostly in the form of art, as below.
You also can join the campaign to demand the Prime Minister Najib Razak to drop the nine charges on me under The Sedition Act by signing the petition via the link:
7 Dec 2015
1. Caption: Ai Weiwei holding up zunar’s photo (Photo: Amnesty UK)
2. Zunar with Garry Trudeau (Photo: Zunar)
3. Drawing of support from amateur cartoonist, Michelle Seyner (photo twitter)
ZUNAR Zunar (Zulkiflee Sm Anwar Ulhaque) is a political cartoonist from Malaysia. With slogan, “How Can I be Neutral, Even My Pen Has a Stand”, he exposes corruption and abuse of power committed by the government of Malaysia through his art.
Zunar is now facing nine charges under the archaic Sedition Act and facing possible 43 years imprisonment and the court proceeding will start on 9 Sept 2015.
He was detained and locked behind bars twice under the Sedition Act – first time was on September 2010 for two days and recently on 10th of February 2015 for three days. Five of his cartoon books have been banned by the Malaysian government on the ground that the contents are “detrimental to public order.”
His office in Kuala Lumpur has been raided a few times and thousands of his cartoon books were confiscated. The printers, vendors, and bookstores, have been harassed. Their premises have been raided and they have been warned not to print or carry any of his books or their bussiness licence will be revoked.
Last October, three of his assistants were arrested and taken to the police station for selling his latest cartoon books. The webmaster, who manages his website and online bookstore, was called in by the police for questioning.
Zunar is the only Malaysian selected by Amnesty International as the first Malaysian for their biggest annual international campaign, ‘Write for Rights (#W4R) 2015′.
1) “Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award 2011” by Cartoonists Right Network International
2) Human Rights Watch Hellman/Hammett Award for 2011 & 2015
3) International Press Fredom Award, Commitee to Protect Journalist, New York 2015