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March 2014

'Cartooning is the Art of Danger'


Iranian cartoonist and CM member Kianoush Ramezani will be one of the speakers at TedxHagueAcademy on Secure Societies, which will take place March 19 in The Hague:

Cartooning is the art of danger, says Iranian cartoonist Kianoush Ramezani. For one thing, because it is a tool for addressing tough subjects. But also because where there is no freedom of expression, cartoonists themselves are at risk. Where the cartoonist is not free to criticise, says Ramezani, there can be no secure society.
Kianoush Ramezani has lived in France since 2009 as a political refugee. He fled Iran because of his involvement in Cartoonists' Rights Network International and the Green Movement, which led the surge of anti-government protest after the 2009 presidential election. The regime countered with a wave of raids and arrests. As founder of Iran’s first independent cartoonists’ association in defiance of the pro-government cartooning mainstream, Ramezani found that even fellow cartoonists had become his enemies.

For more information on the event, visit the website of TEDxHagueAcademy. If you would like to attend, you can apply until Monday March 3.

This is not the fist time we are cooperating with TEDxHagueAcadamy. For the previous edition (on peace, justice and human rights), we asked our cartoonists to visualize the different talks. You can see the result here.

Karnika Kahen, Cartoon Crusader from India

KarnikaKanika is a 33-year old illustrator and cartoonist from Mumbai. Last year, she created the female cartoon character named Karnika Kahen, and started a series of cartoons that criticized the controversial Indian godman Asaram Bapu. Asaram is a high-profile guru, who has made the news with a remark that the 2012 Delhi gang rape victim was equally guilty along with those responsible for the sexual assault on her. In 2013, he was accused of sexual assault on a 16-year old girl himself. Kanika decided on a female protagonist because she felt there were already a lot of cartoons in India with a 'aam aadmi' (roughly translated 'average Joe') perspective. It was time for 'aam ladki', the female equivalent.

Kanika: 'I don’t see representation of a girl’s voice in the field of Indian cartoons in our times. We have many famous male cartoonists , but not one female cartoonist. It shows that women are still not considered mature enough to make a political or social comment, at least in the world of cartoons. I want to change that. I feel that a woman cartoonist can raise issues concerned to females in a better way. Its not only about the issues related to females only but representing the voice of the women of our country on social and political issues.

Karnika Kahen, the cartoon character, was born when I was feeling very angry after reading the news that Asaram had sexually abused a minor girl. Asaram, the same man who few months back gave this statement that Nirbhaya, the unfortunate rape victim of the Delhi bus should have  called those monsters 'Bhaiyaa' who raped her or she should have recited the 'guru-mantra' to save herself from that disaster.

To express my anger, I made a series of cartoons on Asaram and published it on my Facebook page and Twitter account.

One of Kanika's cartoons, depicting Asaram and his unwillingness to face a narco or polygraph test to prove his innocence.

Within one week IndiaToday and Aaj Tak picked up my cartoons and published a story with my interview. The editor didn't publish the cartoons with my original name and used the name of character in the article , maybe because she already saw what is coming next.

Asaram’s blind followers were already after me when I started publishing cartoons related to him on Facebook but once the cartoons got published in India Today and Aaj Tak, they started coming  in hordes and started abusing me severely. I have not heard or read such kind of language before in my life. They even started making derogatory cartoons about me.

Karnika2                                         One of the derogatory cartoons that was made, using Kanika's cartoon character.

Some of them even threatened to kill me. They told that they would  give me the same treatment which Nirbhaya faced.  They hacked my Facebook , email accounts and got some of my photographs from there and they started distributing those here and there. I was very scared. For months. I didn't come out of my home. I was so afraid that I was not able to sleep properly. But, I kept making cartoons on Asaram until his blind followers got tired and stopped threatening me. I filed a complaint in Mumbai Cyber Crime Cell and local police station. I got lots of support from people in all over the country  and other cartoonists. It helped me to continue my fight against these blind followers.

After I filed the police complaint in Cyber crime cell and local police station, the number of threats gone down gradually but sometimes I still receive calls from unknown numbers which I generally don’t pick. The fact is that Godman Asaram and his son is in jail right now, so I believe that the number of their followers have gone down. But they are still using my cartoon character and running a fake Facebook page in my name.'

Kanika goes on to note that, despite the threats, creating this comic series has shown just how important cartoons can be, and has rekindled her love for cartooning.

Press Freedom Cartoon Competition

14th contest poster

The Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom has announced their 14th International Editorial Cartoon Competition. The theme for the competition is 'Big Brother is watching you':

Whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed how the National Security Agency worked with government agencies to spy on the private communications of millions of individuals. Further revelations disclosed how the U.S. agency used massive data collected by internet and telephone corporations to circumvent laws that prohibit government agencies from spying on their own citizens. Without protection from illegal and unwarranted surveillance, the private communications of individuals can be chilled, leading to massive self censorship, the shackling of free speech and the creation of a Big Brother society.

Submissions can be sent by email to [email protected]. The deadline is April 4, and the prize winners will be announced May 2, 2014. See the full competition rules here.

CM Cartoonists Win at Press Cartoon Europe

Press Cartoon Europe, an international contest that awards the best cartoon published in any European country, announced the winners yesterday. We're very proud that the awarded cartoons are all made by cartoonists who contribute to Cartoon Movement. The Grand Prix went to Portuguese cartoonist Rodrigo de Matos, for a cartoon on the Portuguese passion for football.

RodrigoAmong the austerity measures, the people in Portugal found a reason to smile: the national football team qualified for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

'The PCE Grand Prix is probably the most important award for cartoonists who publish in European media. It’s the first time I’m selected for the final round and winning the main prize for me is almost unbelievable. This is my first big award and I achieved it with a lot of work and dedication, in the eighth year of my career as a profession.', Rodrigo told his newspaper The Macau Daily Times.

The second prize went to CM editor Tjeerd Royaards, for a cartoon (published on Cartoon Movement in October 2013) on the death of over 500 immigrants, who drowned near Lampedusa in an attempt to reach Europe. Third prize went to another Dutch cartoonist, Hajo de Reijger, with a cartoon on intervention in Syria.


Cartoon News from Iran


Cartoonists Rights Network International has announced a cartoon competition dedicated to cartoonists in Iran:

Since 1992, CRNI has been the only organization in the world dedicated exclusively to defending the free speech rights cartoonists everywhere. Through this contest we want to bring to the world a testament to the most experienced Iranian cartoonists and to those who have never yet published anything. We welcome cartoonists at every level and with every perspective.

For more information, and the competition rules, visit the competition's Facebook page.


The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has collected one year of editorial cartoons by prominent Iranian cartoonist Touka Neyestani (published weekly on their website) in the book 'Drawing Repression':

Beginning in April 2012, the Campaign has been featuring a weekly editorial cartoon drawing attention to the ongoing daily human rights violations in the country. Drawing Repression collects Neyestani’s responses to individuals, events, and developments over the course of one year, highlighting individual human rights abusers holding high office, prisoners of conscience continuing the struggle for basic rights, major events of the year—including earthquakes and cultural celebrations—and intensifying trends of violations against the Iranian people.

You can order a copy here.

Let's Share This: Stories of Silent Helpers


We've started a new project for Cordaid, one of the largest development organizations in the Netherlands. Cordaid has a network of 634 partner organizations in more than thirty countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.

On February 6, Cordaid launched a new platform to celebrate their 100th birthday by sharing the stories of silent helpers. Silent helpers are people who move mountains, just because they are needed. They do this without asking for reward or recognition. They get their satisfaction from the fact that they make a difference. Cartoon Movement is contributing to this new platform with cartoons; not only cartoons that are meant as a tribute to silent helpers, but also with cartoons that ask questions about the nature of helping, and on how society deals with groups of people that might need our help, such as the disabled and immigrants. You can check out all the newsroom (and all the cartoons that have come in) here:

Silent Helpers                      Love thy Neighbor

Society & Disability             Migrants & Dual Loyalty

What is Charity?

The best cartoons are published on

In addition to the cartoons, we've also been asked to do a comic about the history of helping. Cordaid's history starts in the First World War. The brutalities of war left many Belgian children orphaned, and these children found refuge in the Netherlands.


In close to 50 pages, the comic tells the story of silent helpers in different periods in history. Their stories show that helping is something not bound to time and place, but bound to our humanity. The comic shows the past, present and future of helping. In each period, we see that helping is about making connections. These connections give meaning to our own life, and that of others. The comic is written by CM editor Tjeerd Royaards, and is drawn by Tom Humberstone; it will be published online chapter by chapter in the coming months.

New Year, Still Dangerous to be a Cartoonist

2014 isn't off to a great start for cartooning, with cartoonists from Palestine and Ecuador facing death threats and legal threats respectively.

Xavier Bonilla, publishing under the name Bonil  in the daily newspaper El Universo, is one of the first targets of a new and controversial communication law in Ecuador. The cartoon in question is about a police assault on a parliamentary advisor of the opposition, who was accused of espionage against president Correa and other state officials.

Head over to the website of CRNI for more background on the story. In a ruling on February 1, the court deemed the image 'harmful to president Correa', and gave Bonil 72 hours to 'correct' his work. We'll keep following this story as it develops.

Another cartoonist, in even more serious trouble, is Palestinian Majda Shaheen. A cartoon published on her Facebook page, which depicted a perceived view of the relationship between the Head of the Ruling Authority in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, and the al-Quds brigades, resulted in calls for retaliation against the cartoonist, and even death threats. The official page of  the al-Quds Brigades posted a request to reveal the cartoonist's place of residence, most likely with the intention to retaliate.

Majda issues an apology for the cartoon, unfortunately to little effect, and she was forced to seclude herself out of fear for her safety. The latest news is that the situation might be improving; Majda hopes the incident will blow over.

More info on this story on the website of CRNI and Arab Cartoon House (who broke this this story).