by Maren Williams
Two political cartoonists who have courageously defied government censorship and brutality will be honored with the 2012 Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award from Cartoonists Rights Network International. Syrian Ali Ferzat and Indian Aseem Trivedi will receive the award on September 15, 2012 at George Washington University in Washington, DC, according to a post on CRNI’s website.
The annual award recognizes cartoonists who have “shown exemplary courage in the face of unrelenting threat, legal action or other pressure as punishment or disincentive for cartoons that are too powerful for some officials, sects, terrorists or demagogues.”
Ferzat, who also was recently named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, came under pressure from the Syrian government after publishing cartoons critical of President Bashar Assad:
For this, thugs were ordered to send Ali a message. They brutally beat him up, intentionally breaking both his hands. After the attack, Ali made a second courageous and potentially life-threatening decision. He decided to make public what the Assad Regime had done to him. The work of this brave and talented artist can be seen online at http://www.ali-ferzat.com/ar/comics.html and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ali.frzat.
Despite the intimidation tactics of the regime, Ferzat continues to produce cartoons critical of Assad’s treatment of the Syrian people. CBLDF has previously covered his beating and his position in the vanguard of a growing number of Syrians who are using satire to protest government brutality.
Meanwhile, Trivedi has concentrated his efforts on exposing corruption within the Indian government and stoking the nascent free speech movement in his country. From CRNI:
First, in an atmosphere of increasing censorship and repression in the world’s largest democracy, Aseem launched the Cartoons Against Corruption website. In an effort to mobilize his fellow citizens against India’s pervasive political corruption, Aseem filled this site with his anti-corruption cartoons. After being charged with treason and insulting national symbols, Aseem made his second courageous act. Despite the charges and threats of additional charges, he has taken a leadership role in India’s emerging free speech movement. Joining forces with other free speech activists, Aseem has launched an online freedom of expression campaign called Save Your Voice: A Movement Against Web Censorship.
Previous CBLDF coverage of Trivedi’s efforts can be found here.
Maren Williams is a reference librarian.