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Amnesty International Decries Cartoonist Zunar’s Travel Ban

by  in Comic News Comment
Amnesty International Decries Cartoonist Zunar’s Travel Ban

Amnesty International has called on the government of Malaysia to lift a travel ban it imposed on the political cartoonist Zunar (Zulkiflee Sm Anwar Ulhaque).

The cartoonist, who will go on trial next month on nine charges of sedition, learned of the travel ban on October 17, when he arrived at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport for a flight to Singapore and was informed by immigration that he could not leave the country, on orders of Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar. The official said the ban had been imposed on June 24.

Zunar will go on trial next month on nine charges of sedition, stemming from a series of Tweets accusing the government of intervening in the sodomy trial of an opposition politician. However, he has not missed a court date he was first charged, in April 2015, and he has stated that he intends to remain in Malaysia and continue to advocate for change.

zunar-cartoon-18-oct-16

In a meeting with reporters, Khalid refused to explain the travel ban, saying “I don’t have to tell the world about what is the justification. If he had contacted me, I would be very happy to explain it to him, but since he has openly said he would challenge me, then go ahead, challenge me. I will wait for his challenge in court.”

“Arbitrary travel bans against government critics are a blatant violation of the right to freedom of movement and association,” Amnesty International said on its website, calling on the Malaysian authorities to drop the ban. A number of other organizations, including Cartoonist Rights Network International and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, have also advocated for Zunar’s cause.

Zunar has a long history of criticizing his country’s government, and officials have lashed back in a variety of ways, including seizing his books, raiding his office, and arresting his assistants.

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