In the wake of the global pandemic, journalist and human rights groups are sounding the alarm and issuing the most dire warnings about cartoonists’ security and freedom since the Charlie Hebdo attack over five years ago.
Cartoonists Rights Network International has joined with Cartooning for Peace, Cartoon Movement and other free press organizations calling for protections for political cartoonists as governments around the world use the coronavirus breakout to suppress free speech.
Terry Anderson of CRNI wrote: “The global pandemic has resulted in many governments enacting emergency powers that limit free expression, their stated aim being to stop the spread of bad information but their actions generally amounting to a crackdown on dissenting views. A most egregious example is Bangladeshi cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore, arrested among several critics of the country’s response to COVID-19 over a month ago and about whom we have heard little since. Myself and other leaders of free expression orgs wrote to the prime minister earlier this month seeking assurances of his well-being and demanding his release.”
He went on to add: “While there are a number of cartoonists whose recent problems can be directly attributed to the pandemic, more broadly the crisis is exacerbating all the existing problems — authoritarianism, intolerance, isolationism, dwindling opportunities — that have afflicted the media landscape and cartooning community for some time. And very recently another layer of complication has been added with the Black Lives Matter movement and certain governments’ heavy-handed response to it. CRNI was among the extensive list of co-signatories supporting IFEX‘s letter to the President of the United States last week, exhorting him to protect journalistic freedoms.”
Anderson included a release from the Media Freedom Rapid Response giving an indication of how things look within the European Union and its candidate countries. It is posted online here:
The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists joins with CRNI in supporting these statements, and standing with cartoonists worldwide during this time. We encourage cartoonists, journalists and freedom-loving people to post, share and retweet these alerts far and wide. #FreePress #FreeSpeech