The Cartoonists Rights Network International has set up an Indiegogo campaign to raise $40,000 to extend its efforts, which include advocating for freedom of speech, getting the word out when a cartoonist is in peril, and working behind the scenes to aid cartoonists in trouble.
The organization offers a downloadable manual for cartoonists, and also presents the Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award each year to "a cartoonist who is in great danger or has demonstrated exceptional courage in the exercise of free speech rights, or both."
The list of recent honorees illustrates both the breadth and the severity of the problem: They include Ali Ferzat, whose hands were broken by Syrian government agents; Aseem Trivedi, who faced treason charges for his cartoons about corruption in India; Akram Raslan, a Syrian cartoonist whose whereabouts are unknown and who may have been executed by the Syrian government; Kanika Mishra, who received death threats after lampooning a local religious leader in India, and Palestinian cartoonist Majda Shaheen, who also was threatened with violence because of a cartoon that depicted the Al-Quds Brigades as a dog.
Just in the past two weeks, we have seen three new attempts to quell the work of cartoonists:
- In Malaysia, Zunar is being investigated under the Sedition Act for cartoons and tweets that questioned the trial of Anwar Ibrahim; police raided his offices and seized his books, and he is currently under arrest.
- In Ecuador, Xavier Bonilla faces charges of "socioeconomic discrimination" for making fun of a politician. Last year, Bonilla was compelled by the Ecuadorian government to redraw a cartoon that implied the president was involved in corruption.
- Palestinian cartoonist Mohammed Sabaaneh is being investigated by the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, for drawing a cartoon that might have depicted the Prophet Muhammad (Sabaaneh denies this).
The purpose of the fund-raiser is to allow CRNI to extend its reach, especially on social networks, and do more to help cartoonists. The premiums include a set of postcards, a T-shirt, original cartoons by Joel Pett, Jeff Danziger, and KAL, and signed prints from a host of other cartoonists, including Tom Tomorrow, Jen Sorenson, Matt Bors and Signe Wilkinson.