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Malaysia Charges Cartoonist as Criminal for Tweeted Images Criticizing Judiciary
In response to the Malaysian government’s charging cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Alhaque (known as Zuna), with nine counts of sedition because of a series of tweets targeting the country’s judiciary, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“The sedition charges against Zunar are emblematic of a broader effort by Malaysia’s government to silence its critics both offline and online,” said Daniel Calingaert, executive vice-president. “Although Prime Minister Najib Razak vowed to abolish the Sedition Act during the lead-up to the 2013 elections, his administration has used it to silence independent media, neutralize the political opposition, and restrict the space for civil society.”
Zunar is a political cartoonist who, for more than 40 years, has highlighted issues of corruption, electoral fraud, politicization of the judiciary, and the crackdown on dissenting voices. On February 10th, he tweeted a series of cartoons criticizing the Malaysian judiciary’s conviction of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. He was arrested soon after and was detained for several days before being released on bail. Zunar faces up to 43 years in jail if found guilty on all nine charges.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.