Indian, Hong Kong Satirists Win Press Cartoon Award

On Friday, International Press Freedom Day, Indian cartoonist Rachita Taneja and Hong Kong’s Zunzi received the biennial Kofi Annan Courage in Cartooning Award.

Taneja has been threatened with a prison sentence when a member of India’s ruling Hindu nationalist party complained about her online webcomic Sanitary Panels, whose stick figures discuss harassment, homophobia, menstruation, and authoritarianism.

Zunzi was fired by his newspaper in 2023, three years after China passed National Security legislation that changed Hong Kong’s arts, culture, and media. Officials accused him of “distorting and unethical” photographs.

According to Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) Press Freedom Index, India ranks 161 out of 180 countries, whereas Hong Kong ranks 140.

The Kofi Annan award ceremony on Friday is followed by an exhibition of journalistic cartoons, which Iranian lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi was scheduled to unveil later that day near the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights’ headquarters on Lake Geneva.

The Freedom Cartoonists Foundation and the city of Geneva organized this year’s award and exhibition to highlight the importance of women in the battle for freedom, as well as the obstacles faced by female cartoonists worldwide.

“We wish to showcase the growing number of female press artists. In addition to the pressures of their occupations, they endure threats because they are women,” said the foundation’s director, Swiss artist Patrick Chappatte.

Taneja might face six months in prison if India’s Supreme Court upholds a case filed by a member of the ruling BJP’s student wing.

Since Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed office in 2014, the country’s press freedom rankings have plummeted, and limitations on civil society have forced rights organizations like Amnesty International to significantly reduce their local activities.

Zunzi was born in Hong Kong in 1955 and began his career as a political caricaturist with Ming Pao in 1983.

The newspaper fired him last year following months of official criticism and attacks on free expression, according to the foundation.

The authorities protested that his pictures had “sanctimonious humour that harms Hong Kong’s image”.

His books and recordings are barred from public libraries.

From Friday to June 2, the exhibition “Cartooning for Freedom” will focus on three topics: women’s rights, continuing crises in the Middle East, Ukraine, and Sudan, and artificial intelligence (AI).

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