Zunar, the Malaysian award winning political cartoonist and activist, was arrested today, 26 November, under the Sedition Act for cartoons that allegedly insulted Prime Minister Najib Razak.
The arrest took place a day after being attacked by dozens of pro-government thugs. Due to the attack, Zunar was forced to call off his exhibition in Penang, northern to Kuala Lumpur. Zunar was verbally abused, physically attacked and his artworks were vandalized.
The attackers, believed to be members of the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), stormed into Zunar’s newly launched exhibition and aggressively assaulted Zunar and destroyed his artwork. They demanded the political cartoonist to take down the exhibition. Zunar was rescued by members of public. The police had to call the anti-riot unit in order to gain control of the attackers.
Zunar is facing nine charges under the Malaysian Sedition Act over posting his political cartoons, critical of the Malaysian government, on Twitter. The charges are punishable by up to 43 years in prison. However, Zunar has not been convicted and his case is due to take trial on 24 January 2017.
On October 17, Zunar was held by the immigration police at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. He had been told that he was barred from travelling, effective from June 24. The order was confirmed by an immigration officer to be instructed directly from the Inspector General Of Police (IGP), Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar. The IGP has no legal right to restrict Zunar’s movement and to bar him from leaving the country without a court order. Zunar intends to legally challenge the travel ban.
Timeline of Zunar’s persecution
|26 November 2016||Zunar was arrested under the Sedition Act for cartoons that allegedly insulted Prime Minister Najib Razak.|
|25 November 2016||Zunar was attacked by pro government activists. Due to the attack, Zunar was forced to call off his exhibition.|
|17 October 2016||Zunar was banned from traveling abroad by the Malaysian government. He will file a legal proceeding to challenge the ruling.|
|2 April 2015||Zunar was slapped with nine charges under the archaic Sedition Act and is facing possible 43 years imprisonment.|
|28 February 2015||More than 20 policemen raided Zunar’s launching event in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, and threatened to detain him and confiscate his book, ROS in Kangkong Land, if he proceeds. He had to cancel the programme.|
|14 February 2015||Hundreds of Zunar’s books, ROS in Kangkong Land, were confiscated by the police from the printer’s lorry en-route to the launching venue.|
|10 February 2015||Zunar was detained and locked up for three days under the Sedition Act. He was accused to have tweeted seditious comments in relation to the Federal Court’s decision, which upheld the conviction of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim. The police initiated two separate investigations on him under the Sedition Act. One is on the tweet criticising Mr Anwar’s sentence under the D5 Unit (Classified Crime). Another is on his cartoon books ‘Pirates of The Carry-BN’ and ‘Conspiracy to Imprison Anwar’.|
|28 January 2015||Zunar’s office was raided while he was on a speaking tour in London. More than 150 books were confiscated. Laws used: Printing Presses and Publications Act, Sedition Act, Penal Code.|
|20 November 2014||Zunar was brought in for questioning to the Dang Wangi Police Station in Kuala Lumpur under the ‘Classified Crime Section’ involving three different laws. Laws used: Printing Presses and Publications Act, the Sedition Act, Penal Code.|
|18 November 2014||The police requested the online payment gateway that handles Zunar’s book transactions to disclose the list of customers who have purchased his books through the official website www.zunar.my. The company was given no choice but to disclose it. Law used: Sedition Act.|
|16 November 2014||Zunar’s webmaster, who manages his online bookstore, was called in by the police for questioning. Law used: Sedition Act.|
|6 November 2014||Three of Zunar’s assistants were arrested and summoned the police station for selling his latest cartoon books. Law used: Sedition Act.|
|24 September 2010||Zunar was detained and locked up for two days after the publication of his book ‘Cartoon-O-Phobia’. Law used: Sedition Act.|
|July 2010||Five of Zunar’s books were banned by the Home Minister on the grounds that the contents are ‘detrimental to public order’. Law used: Printing Presses and Publications Act.|
|September 2009||Zunar’s office was raided by the authorities. 500 copies of his book titled ‘Gedung Kartun’ were confiscated. Law used: Printing Presses and Publications Act.|