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CRNI statement on imprisoned Turkish cartoonist Musa Kart

December 5, 2016 in General



Musa Kart, the world-renowned political cartoonist for Cumhuriyet newspaper, Istanbul is one of several staff pending trial for “crimes on behalf of the Fethullahist Terror Organisation and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)”.

Accused of collusion in last summer’s attempted coup in Turkey, these journalists are just a few of the great many academics, public servants and media workers who have been fired, detained, questioned or jailed by the Erdoğan regime in recent weeks. Kart’s regular panel in the paper has been printed with a blank space since his arrest.


© Ralph Steadman

David Kaye, the UN’s special rapporteur visited Turkey in November and said: “Across the board, the Government is imposing draconian measures that limit freedom of expression […] the measures are not only drastic and disproportionate, but they lack any form of transparency.”

Today, in conjunction with Cartooning for Peace and Cartoon Movement and ahead of Human Rights Day at the end of this week, we make a statement on behalf of Musa Kart.

  • Cartoon Movement is the internet’s leading platform for high quality political cartoons and comics journalism with over 400 contributors across every continent.
  • Cartooning for Peace is a network of global cartoonists working to counteract extremism and prejudice, contextualise visual humour, explain its importance as social commentary, and confront ideology while respecting pluralism.
  • CRNI is the human rights organisation for cartoonist whose work leads to direct threats against their livelihood, liberty, life and limb. Each year they present a Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award and Musa Kart is a past recipient.

All three are committed to freedom of expression as a fundamental human right.

CRNI’s Executive Director, Dr Robert Russell, said:

“President Erdoğan has respondent to the recent so-called coup attempt by arresting hundreds of thousands of his fellow countrymen. People from all walks of life, high ranking governmental officials, the cream of the judiciary, intellectuals of all persuasions, journalists, simple common working people and anyone else he thought had negative opinions about him have been arrested. Some witnesses have said that the entire affair made him extremely happy, as now has an excuse to get rid of all of his enemies. There still may be as many as 100,000 people imprisoned.


© Bonil

One of them is our friend and client, Musa Kart, a prominent cartoonist with the Cumhuriyet newspaper. He and a number of other staff members still languish in prison.

We point out to the President that this whole affair demonstrates to the world how utterly paranoid he is, and the degree to which his own administration has deteriorated well into the failed regime category.

Cartoonists Rights Network International calls on the President to immediately release all innocent and improperly held prisoners, particularly journalists, and specifically our client Musa Kart. We ask that he be restored to his family and all charges against him and the rest of the Cumhuriyet staff be cleared.”

Cartoonist Musa Kart, interviewed by media before police questioning.

Cartoonist Musa Kart, interviewed by media before police questioning.

On the 31st of October the homes of a number of staff from Cumhuriyet, Turkey’s oldest national daily newspaper, were raided and under emergency powers they were detained for questioning without legal representation for five days. On the 5th of November nine individuals were formally arrested and jailed pending trial for “committing crimes on behalf of the Fethullahist Terror Organisation and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)”.

This came amid a freezing of internet access and a wave of arrests across the country, all in an apparent effort to purge supporters of last summer’s attempted coup from Turkey’s mass media and opposition parties.

Organisations for the defence of freedom of expression and the liberty of journalists have already condemned the Cumhuriyet raid and arrests as brutal suppression of vital, critical voices in what purports to be a democratic nation.

We wish to draw special attention to Cumhuriyet cartoonist Musa Kart’s case in particular because this represents the third attempt by President Recep Erdoğan to silence him after suing for libel in 2005 and slander in 2014. On this occasion a punitive fine or jail sentence is not the worst possible outcome, as objectionable as it would be. If granted his stated ambition Erdoğan will reintroduce the death penalty specifically for those said to be involved in organising the coup. Clearly there is a real threat to Musa’s life should his trial proceed and he is found guilty of the charges given. We are witnessing an effort by the president to exact revenge on someone he has long considered an enemy.

It has been well reported that Erdoğan has taken an almost industrial approach in responding to personal offence over criticisms in the mass media. Where, we ask, is the magnanimity shown earlier this year when the many hundreds of so-called ‘insult cases’ he had instructed his government to pursue were dropped? On what basis can the drawing of satirical cartoons be considered a crime, much less an act of terrorism?

We call upon the leadership of every democratic nation to redouble their efforts in dissuading the Turkish government from its present course and demand the immediate release of our friend and colleague Musa Kart.

NB – at the time of writing Musa Kart and colleagues are in Silivri prison, Istanbul; family members have visited and say his health is good and spirit unbowed.


You can also view the statement here on the Cartoonists’ Rights Network International website.

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The female Arab cartoonists challenging authority

November 29, 2016 in General


© Doaa el-Adl

As part of its ‘100 Women’ season, the BBC asked three female cartoonists from Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco to illustrate how the practice of ‘male guardianship’, even though not always enshrined in law, continues to affect women’s lives.



© Doaa el-Adl

Tackling taboo issues like FGM and sexual harassment, Egyptian political cartoonist Doaa el-Adl frequently courts controversy and has even been accused of blasphemy. Tunisian cartoonist Nadia Khiari says “When I first started drawing, I did so anonymously and everyone assumed I was a man,” whereas Riham Elhour was the first ever female cartoonist to be published in the Moroccan press. Her birthday is on International Women’s Day, 8 March, and she says she was “born a feminist.”


© Nadia Khiari

As we have seen all too often recently, cartoonists are a persecuted species and it says a lot for the fortitude of these women that they continue to stand up to oppression in such dangerous times. They also have to deal with issues and attitudes that are difficult for Westerners to comprehend. Nadia Khiari, for example, was inspired to draw the cartoon above in response to controversial comments by a male Tunisian TV talk show host who was suspended from his job in October, after suggesting that a young girl who had been subject to years of sexual abuse by three male relatives should marry one of them when she became pregnant.


© Riham Elhour

Although many of Morocco’s male guardianship laws were overturned in reforms in 2004 and 2014, women still legally need their husband’s formal permission to leave the country if they want to take their children with them.

“Men can use this to control women’s lives,” Elhour says.

Riham Elhour is still the only female cartoonist at her newspaper but believes that through her art she will change the way women are seen in Morocco.

“I want my drawings to stir women to fight for their rights,” she says. “I don’t want them to moan about being the victim. I am a fighter. All women are fighters.”

ideo (produced by Dina Demrdash) here on the BBC website.


Thanks to Pete Dredge for drawing this to the Blog’s attention









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Support for imprisoned Musa Kart but attacks on cartoonists continue…

November 26, 2016 in General


Attendees at the British Cartoonists’ Association and Cartoon Museum awards, led by BCA Chairman and PCO member Martin Rowson, gave a standing ovation to demonstrate their support for Musa Kart, who faces jail for sedition. (See the Blog article from 2nd November for more on this story.) 

Mr Rowson stated it was “more important than ever to fight for the freedom to laugh in order to stop us all going mad in the face of events.”

He went on to pay tribute to the cartoonists murdered in the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine, before telling the audience of cartoonists, politicians, journalists and cartoon fans how Musa Kart could face up to 43 years in prison – just for drawing cartoons.

Mr. Rowson then invited everyone to stand and applaud Mr Kart as an act of solidarity and support for “the twin freedoms of speech and laughter”, which they did with sustained vigour.


You can read about this event on the CRNI site here or this Morning Star article.

…meanwhile in Malaysia, cartoonist Zumar’s exhibition is targetted by pro-government protestors


Malaysian cartoonist Zunar Tweeted the CRNI to say his most recent exhibition in the Komtar Penang mall was disrupted by pro-government protestors. In an interview with Free Malaysia Today he confirms that he has cancelled the show outright.

Read more about this disturbing development here on the CRNI site.

Update: Zunar arrested

It appears the cartoonist has been arrested for sedition.

Further update: Zunar released on bail

We’re delighted to hear that following his ludicrous arrest the much persecuted cartoonist has been released.

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A triumvirate of talent

November 26, 2016 in General


© Sarah Boyce

The PCO is delighted to welcome three new members into the fold

The three in question are doubly talented individuals: Sarah Boyce is a printmaker and cartoonist, James Brandow a caricaturist and cartoonist, whilst Dave Walker is a cycling cartoonist which, funnily enough, is the subject of his upcoming book…


© James Brandow

For Sarah, cartooning started as a bit of fun but became completely absorbing. She had previously worked in advertising but after having children reverted to her first love, art and design, specialising in printmaking. Now Sarah combines her printmaking with drawing cartoons.

You can see more of Sarah’s work here.

Dave was an erstwhile member of the PCO but somehow managed to escape. (Let this be a warning to others: you can run but you’ll never escape our inky clutches…)

Anyway, we are pleased to welcome back such a talented artist. Dave is a freelance cartoonist and book illustrator for a wide variety of clients, and a number of books of his own work have been published, with the aforementioned ‘The Cycling Cartoonist’ about to join them.

Dave’s portfolio can be viewed here.

James, like Sarah, has a strong grounding in advertising with over 20 years experience creating visuals to be used as finished art, concepts, storyboards, layouts, character designs, animated gifs, cartoon portraits and animations. All this experience is brought to bear on his beautifully drawn caricatures and cartoons.

Take a look at James’ work here.



© Dave Walker





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Nathan Ariss: a call for inaction

November 18, 2016 in General


You can die of exposure, you know…

Nathan Ariss writes:

General Artistic Strike – call for inaction, New Year’s Day

A General Strike of all culture, arts, music, dance, drama, poetry, illustration, cartoon, design, is now in effect. All ‘creatives’ will henceforth produce not a single word, or note, or sound, or sign, or symbol, that might stir, nourish, inform, amuse, or in any way entertain or satirise, and an embargo has been placed on all recordings, and any and all previous and published materials.

Anyone found in a public place listening to, laughing, reading, or enjoying anything regarded as having required artistic input, will be frog-marched immediately to the nearest over-priced, zero tax-yielding coffee emporium and made to contribute to the ‘Artists starve in garrets because it helps maintain their artistic integrity, and anyway they’d do it for nothing’ boxes, which will be provided there.

This action will only be called off when no further requests for free artwork, ‘pay-to-play’, nor mentions of exposure as adequate recompense or remuneration, nor other derisory terms and conditions, have been been reported to the New Ministry for Cultural Appreciation, Payments and Respect.


© Nathan Ariss

Yes, that is about as realistic as Zuckerberg deciding to give us all a wad of his money, or any of the UK’s majority of non-producing ‘middle-men’ donating their entire bonuses to humanitarian causes.

Support Artists’ Rights. 90% of them/ all of us, it is estimated, struggle to survive, beneath the minimum wage. And they can’t all find those humble, alternative jobs – you know, the ones that aren’t there – and neither do they wish to burden the system in idle non-productivity.

The Arts are a choice and its own reward, but the deal with the audience is you put a coin in the box to watch the monkey dance. Free downloads and soaking it all up for nothing is as profoundly impoverishing as planting the worst seeds from your yield for next year’s crop.

So, feel free to share. Without payment. Or perhaps entertain us with that great story of how you closed that deal, made money off someone else’s work, or contributed to the increasing neglect and poverty of intellect and opportunity this country seems determined to produce and market as the world’s best.

This article was originally published on Nathan Ariss’ Facebook site.

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Hastings: The Film

November 13, 2016 in General


Meanwhile back in Hastings, here’s a lovely little video from Robert Rousso.

Robert casts his acutely observant Gallic eye over proceedings; showing, amongst other things, how popular cartooning and caricaturing are with the British public.

In contrast, with a few notably successful exceptions, UK publishers (or their accountants) appear to be at odds with their ever dwindling readership, dropping cartoons from their newspapers and magazines at a time when laughter would be a welcome antidote to much that is happening in the world.


Robert Rousso, award winning French cartoonist

This video, with its gentle humour, shows how our friends across la Manche view our nation (affectionately) and our cartoonists (respectfully).

Here’s hoping that UK publishers see the light and follow suit…

You can view Robert’s video here.


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A view from across the Channel…

November 9, 2016 in General


© Robert Rousso

Our esteemed chair, Bill Stott, has just received this comment on the US presidential election result from our French friend and comrade in pens, Robert Rousso. There was an accompanying note:

“Yankees overstep you! All the best mon cher Bill!”

‘Nuff said…

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‘The Illustrators 2016’ Exhibition at Chris Beetles Gallery

November 5, 2016 in General


Jonathan Cusick

The British Art of Illustration 1900 – 2016

The largest and most popular annual event worldwide for cartoon and illustration collectors, ‘The Illustrators 2016′ exhibition opens later this month at Chris Beetles Gallery. While focussing this year on the twentieth century, this extravaganza presents over 500 original works for sale by over 60 artists from across three centuries, with prices ranging from £300 to £75,000.




Edmund Joseph Sullivan


Mike Williams


Al Hirschfeld

The exhibition celebrates the wealth of talent among illustrators of the twentieth century, from the influential Edwardian black-and-white draughtsman, E J Sullivan, to the unique contemporary talent that is Sara Midda. British artists are shown within the context of the European and American traditions of cartooning and illustrating, as exemplified by such exceptional talents as André François and Al Hirschfeld.

The PCO is pleased to highlight the inclusion of our own Jonathan Cusick and Mike Williams to this glittering roll call.


Aubrey Beardsley


Donald McGill

‘The Illustrators 2016’ runs from 19th November 2016 through to 7th January 2017

Chris Beetles Gallery

8 & 10 Ryder Street, London, SW1Y 6QB

Telephone 020 7839 7551

To see more of the artists and their work or to buy the exhibition catalogue visit the website here.


Sara Midda

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The worldwide oppression of cartoonists continues…

November 2, 2016 in General


Cartoonist Musa Kart is interviewed by media prior to police questioning

Cartoonist’s arrest marks new chapter in ongoing oppression by Turkish state

Reports from Turkey dated 31st October 2016 indicate that several members of staff from the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet have been detained by police following raids on their homes. These include cartoonist Musa Kart, the recipient of CRNI’s Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award in 2005 and no stranger to harassment from the regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Read more on the CRNI website

Zunar grounded by Malaysian Police Chief


Zunar Tweets as he is detained at Kuala Lumpur International Airport

As widely reported following an update on his Twitter feed, CRNI’s 2011 Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award winner Zulkiflee Anwar Haque – Zunar – was prevented from leaving Malaysia via Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Monday October 17th. He had intended to travel to Singapore to attend a forum.

Zunar went on to state that an immigration officer informed him of a travel ban, apparently in place since the 24th of June and instructed by the Royal Malaysian Police’s Inspector-General, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar.

Find out more on the CRNI website

Help free cartoonist Eaten Fish to receive the medical treatment he urgently needs


© Rod Emmerson

Eaten Fish is a cartoonist and a refugee from Iran who sought refuge in Australia.  This landed him in one of Australia’s notorious detention centres.  He has languished there for more than three years during which he’s suffered all manner of abuse.  He’s in bad shape and needs medical attention.

Help CRNI ratchet up the pressure on the Australian Government to immediately remove Eaten Fish from the Manus Island detention centre and bring him to Australia for the specialized treatment he requires by visiting the CRNI website here.

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Satire on the Front Line

October 31, 2016 in General


Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi and PCO member Martin Rowson are holding an illustrated talk on human rights and political cartooning at The Free Word Centre, London, on Friday 18th November.

Indian human rights defender Aseem Trivedi has been arrested, imprisoned and shut out of mainstream Indian media for his powerful ‘Cartoons Against Corruption’ series. When Aseem was imprisoned in 2012, the Guardian’s celebrated political cartoonist Martin Rowson drew a cartoon condemning his arrest. Today, Aseem is a renowned advocate for detained human rights defenders around the world. He has drawn cartoons in solidarity with activists including imprisoned activist Nabeel Rajab in Bahrain and detained blogger Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia. Aseem will join Martin in London to discuss, draw and debate freedom of expression and solidarity across borders.

The event is hosted by Front Line Defenders, English PEN, PEN International and Index on Censorship.

Main Image © Martin Rowson

To find out more and / or book tickets, check out this article on the English Pen website.

Friday 18 November, 6:30 pm7:45 pm  Tickets £5

Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, London, EC1R 3GA United Kingdom

Phone: 020 7324 2570

Organizer Hannah Trevarthen

Phone: 020 73242536



Thanks to Glenn Marshall