Geneva, 3 May 2016. The Kenyan caricaturist, Gado and the Malaysian cartoonist, Zunar are today awarded the 2016 International Editorial Cartoons Prize on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day. The two winners will be presented with their prizes in a ceremony at the Palais Eynard, in the presence of the Honorary President of the Swiss Foundation Cartooning for Peace, the former Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Kofi Annan and Mr Guillaume Barazzone, Administrative Councillor of the City of Geneva.
“Gado and Zunar remind us how fragile this liberty remains in Africa and in Asia as well as in other regions of the world. Through their commitment towards open and transparent societies, Gado and Zunar, who have received threats in their countries of origin and can no longer practice their profession, confront us with our responsibility to preserve freedom of expression and act in order to support the combat of those who cannot express themselves through their art”, declared Mr Annan.
The cartoonist Patrick Chappatte, Vice-President of the Swiss Foundation Cartooning for Peace and jury member added: “For having had the courage to draw the king naked, Gado and Zunar are faced with a power machine that seeks to silence them. What this Prize seeks to do is just the opposite: to amplify their voices, which are those of democracy and justice.”
A year and a half after the massacre of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and other citizens, after the emotion and going beyond the slogans, how can one fight for liberty? “This is a question for individuals, but also for public authorities and it is even more pertinent in the current security crisis. Through the International Editorial Cartoons Prize, the City of Geneva reaffirms that press cartoonists are the architects of our liberty and must be protected. In defending their caustic cartoons, we combat the morbid intentions of enemies of peace and human rights”, underlined Mr Barazzone.
Gado, whose real name is Godfrey Mwampembwa, was since 1992 and until recently the accredited cartoonist for the Nairobi-based newspaper, the Daily Nation, one of the most important daily newspapers in Central and East Africa. He also draws for the Tanzanian Daily News, Business Times Express, and for the Sunday Tribune in South Africa. New African (United Kingdom) and Courrier International (France) often publish his work. The cartoonist focuses on the problems of African countries including poverty, education, terrorism, health and corruption. For Gado, “press cartoons are never right or wrong… Their role is to raise questions, provoke reflection and favour the process through which people can speak, discuss, and propose some ideas”. Gado has just lost his job with the Nation Media Group for having denounced in his drawings the corruption of Africans in power.
Zunar, the pen name of Zulkiflee Anwar Ul-Haque, the most well-known press and comic strip cartoonist in Malaysia, is the object of legal proceedings and risks a 43-year prison sentence for sedition. The Malay government refuses to consider him an artist and his work is no longer published in traditional media despite the international prizes he has received. Zunar uses humour and derision to reveal abuse of power, the corruption of the elite and the moral crisis in his country’s society and justice system. In 2010, he was arrested for sedition a few hours before the publication of his publication dealing with sensitive subjects. His editors were ordered to cease publication of his books and albums. “How can I be neutral when even my pencil takes a stand?” he tweeted.
The jury of the International Editorial Cartoons Prize is made up of the cartoonists Chappatte (Switzerland), Plantu (France) and Liza Donnelly (United States), as well as Kenneth Roth, Director of the NGO Human Rights Watch and the Genevan magistrate Guillaume Barazzone.
Alongside the 2016 Prize, an exhibition of the prize winners’ drawings and those of other cartoonists who are members of Cartooning for Peace was inaugurated this morning along the quai Wilson in Geneva, in the presence of the cartoonists Gado, Zunar, Chappatte, Plantu and Donnelly, as well as Kofi Annan and Guillaume Barazonne. The one hundred or so drawings exhibited are divided into five categories: the 2016 prize winners, Exodus, Liberty and Security, Cyber world and Planet Earth. An event also took place this morning at the Palais des Nations, in the presence of the five aforementioned guest cartoonists.
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