Malaysian cartoonist Zunar, on a speaking tour in England, got word in the early hours of Wednesday, January 28, 2015, that his office in Kuala Lumpur was being raided by police. The police questioned Zunar’s staff and confiscated 155 copies of two of the cartoonist’s books – Pirates of the Carry Bn and Conspiracy to Imprison Anwar.
Zunar, whose given name is Zukiflee Anwar Haque, tweeted that the police action was made under the Printing Presses and Publication Act and the Sedition Act. The Malaysian government has been weighing charges against Zunar under the Acts since November, 2014 – this despite a unanimous Court of Appeal decision a month earlier that the government had “acted unreasonably and irrationally” in banning and confiscating Zunar’s books in 2010.
Reacting to the police action, Zunar told The Malaysian Digest: “This is really a government of the cartoon, for the cartoon and by the cartoon . . . The government condemned Charlie Hebdo’s attackers but now they are ‘attacking’ me.”
Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch, Asia Division, writes: “It’s shocking and outrageous that the Malaysia government crackdown on freedom of expression has now resulted in an office raid of the prominent cartoonist Zunar and seizure of his books. There is absolutely no justification for this act of censorship by police raid, and Zunar’s books should be returned to him and any consideration of charges against him immediately dropped.”
“Malaysia’s sedition act inspired onslaught raises fundamental questions about whether the government is seeking to cement its power through police action to silence those who voice disagreements with the powers that be. All those inside and outside of Malaysia who care about respect for human rights and democracy in Malaysia need to stand up now and demand the government stop these wrecking ball tactics on activists and members of the political opposition.”
“Human Rights Watch proudly gave a Hellman Hammett award for defenders of free expression to Zunar in 2011, and we will continue to stand by him as he fights for his rights.”
Zunar is also recipient of the Cartoonists Rights Network’s Courage in Cartooning award.