London’s Westminster Reference Library is to host GAGGED, a new exhibition organised by the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation next month, highlighting the persecution of cartoonists across the globe – including one who had their hands broken for their work.
The Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation [UK] regularly works with other agencies – in this instance, alongside Cartoonists’ Rights Network International and Index on Censorship – to try to bring the plight of persecuted cartoonists to the fore. GAGGED is an exhibition seeks to do that.
Alongside the awful headline events that capture mainstream media attention – such as the murder of cartoonists working on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2015 – the Cartoonists’ Rights Network regularly highlights the treatment of cartoonists persecuted for their work.
Earlier this month, for example, PEN International reported the detention of cartoonist Ramón Esono Ebalé, alias Jamon y Queso, who was arrested on 16 September in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea. He was initially questioned by security agents in relation to his cartoons that are critical of President Obiang and other government officials. News outlets reported a few days later that he is being investigated for alleged money laundering and counterfeiting money – charges that his many defenders regard as fabricated.
The government of Malaysia also recently banned the cartoon book Sapuman: Man of Steal by cartoonist Zunar under the Printing and Presses Act and his other books have previously been investigated under the Sedition Act.
Last month, CRN reported how student cartoonist Jake Thrasher, who draws for the Daily Mississippian at the University of Mississippi, had received numerous death threats because of his cartoons condemning white supremacy and racial hatred.
“Repressive governments the world over fear cartoonists,” says PCO Chair Bill Stott. “Cartoonists get straight to the point. Images remain in the public eye longer than do acres of type.
“Whilst we in the UK and Europe generally accept often excoriating depictions of our leaders, this is definitely not the case in the rest of the world. Here, politicians actually applaud critical and often insulting drawings of themselves, sometimes even assembling personal collections thereof.
“Not so elsewhere. In at least one verified instance, a foreign cartoonist was visited by government agents and had his hands broken. Doubtless there are others. Repressive governments, fearful of the truth, regularly imprison cartoonists.
“Whilst it is not easy to highlight a repressive government’s treatment of any given cartoonist because that government will often react by threatening the cartoonist’s family and friends, any and all proceeds from this exhibition will go towards trying to alleviate the conditions many cartoonists the world over have to live with.”
There will be a selling Private View on Tuesday 21st November from 6 – 8.00pm with all proceeds going to charity. This will be followed by a workshop with Banx Cartoons and The Surreal McCoy on Saturday 25th (2-4pm) and then a talk on Tuesday 28th (6-8pm) by political cartoonist Andy Davey and Jodie Ginsberg from Index on Censorship. | #GaggedExhib
• GAGGED runs from 21st November – 1st December 2017 at Westminster Reference Library, 35 St Martin’s Street, London WC2H 7HP | Tel: 020 7641 6200 (press 2) | Opening hours: Monday – Friday 10.00am to 8.00pm | Saturday 10.00am to 5.00pm | Sunday Closed | Please note there is no wheelchair, lift or ramp access to this building
• Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation: procartoonists.org
• Cartoonists’ Rights Network: cartoonistsrights.org