Human rights watchdog to award political cartoonist Zunar for standing up to Putrajaya

Controversial cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Haque has been awarded a cash prize by Human Rights Watch. — File pic
Controversial cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Haque has been awarded a cash prize by Human Rights Watch. — File pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 17 — Controversial cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Haque, popularly known as Zunar, has been recognised by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) for his fight to uphold freedom of expression.

The international non-governmental organisation’s Asia division deputy director Phil Robertson told Malay Mail Online that Zunar will be receiving a cash prize to help him battle the nine sedition charges brought against him by the government over his cartoons which often ridicules Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s administration.

“We are going to announce him as the winner for his courage for freedom of expression.

“It will not be a formal award ceremony but it involves cash aid to help him in his court battles, for the unjust [action] brought against him,” Robertson said when contacted.

However, he declined to disclose the amount of the cash award until the presentation tomorrow.

HRW will be holding a press conference at 2pm tomorrow to announce Zunar’s award for asserting freedom of expression in the face of repression.

Robertson will be discussing details on the award tomorrow, together with a forthcoming Human Rights Watch report on the criminalisation of free expression in Malaysia.

Zunar was arrested for sedition over his tweet criticising the Federal Court’s February 10 ruling that sentenced Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to five years’ jail for sodomy.

He was accused of “publishing seditious material” through nine postings on microblogging site Twitter which, among others, slammed the judiciary for alleged bias, and claimed that Putrajaya had interfered in Anwar’s trial.

Zunar was charged under Section 4 (1) (c) of the Sedition Act 1948, which deals with individuals who publish seditious publications, among other things.

Since Anwar’s sodomy conviction in February, Inspector-general of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar and his police force have engaged in an apparent crackdown on dissent by lawyers, politicians and social activist movements.

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