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WORLDWIDE, CARTOONISTS' FREE SPEECH IS BEING THREATENED

CBLDF Statue of Liberty logoIt’s been more than two years since the attack on Charlie Hebdo staff in Paris, and although the world’s free expression focus has largely shifted away from cartoonists, “that certainly does not mean the danger has disappeared,” says Maren Williams at Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF). “A recent 30-page report from the French nonprofit Cartooning for Peace/Dessins Pour la Paix brings together profiles of cartoonists under threat and background information on the free speech situation in the countries where they work — or from which they’ve been forced to flee.”

The report pays tribute to the unique role that satirical cartoonists fulfill in many countries (particularly those in which largely illiterate populations are more than usually susceptible to the messages in pictures), and their defiance in the face of censorship, intimidation, and violence (in italics):

CBLDF Raising a Reader!Whether their cartoons concern politics, the economy, sports or religion, cartoonists are confronted with the same threats as newspaper, radio and television journalists who cover sensitive subjects. Censorship, legal proceedings, attacks, imprisonment, exile, disappearances and, in the worst of cases, murder — many different acts of violence proving that cartoonists are always on the frontline.

Unique witnesses of current events and veritable barometers of the freedom of expression, they defy threats in order to inform us on the state of democracy during periods of insecurity and trouble. In a context where violations against the freedom of expression have worsened, it seems indispensable to give the floor to those who take up the pencil, in order to pay tribute to their backgrounds and struggles.

CBLDF logo eagleThe full report can be found at the CBLDF website (cbldf.org), which also provides an index to CBLDF reports about many of the cartoonists, grouped by country: in Ecuador, Xavier Bonilla (known as Bonil) and Vilma Vargas; in Venezuela, Rayma Suprani; in India, Aseem Trivedi; in Egypt, Islam Gawish. Previously, we’ve posted reports about the threats against Zunar in Malaysia, Muksa Kart in Turkey, Ali Ferzat, exiled from his native Syria; and Eaten Fish in Manus Island detention center of Australia. CBLDF’s index rehearses their stories as well as those of the others we’ve just named.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

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