Good news! After the travel ban against Zunar was lifted in June, the much more serious charges against him under the Sedition Act were dropped end of July. If tried and convicted, Zunar could have faced more than 40 years in prison. It seems likely that the charges were brought forth by the previous government to silence a critic of the former prime minister Najib Razak. This situation fundamentally changed after the 2018 general election in Malaysia, which ushered a different political coalition into power. It remains to be seen whether the new government will continue to hold human rights in higher respect.
Good news! After the recent election that ushered in a new government in Malaysia, there are signs of hope:
The travel ban that has been imposed on Zunar in October 2016 was lifted (read more). Zunar, a political cartoonist whose full name is Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, has critized the government under previous prime minister Najib Razak for many years. In what appeared to be an effort so silence a critical voice, he has faced harassment, publishing bans, and criminal charges by government forces. Now that the travel ban has been removed, the publishing bans and charges under the Sedition Act (with a potential penalty of 43 years) still are unresolved.
More information about the election results and Zunar’s reflection on them:
“Understanding Malaysia’s political earthquake”
“Hopes for new era of Malaysian free speech…”
“I miss Rosmah, says cartoonist Zunar”
On March 24, local members of Amnesty International marched with high-school students and many other people for the “March for Our Lives” rally in support of tighter gun regulation. Amnesty International USA has called for a sustained campaign on this issue, and were glad to add our bodies to more than 10,000 others in Pittsburgh.
Political cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, known as Zunar, faces nine charges under the Malaysian Sedition Act for tweets with political content he sent. The charges could carry a potential penalty of 43 years in prison. Furthermore, five of his books have been banned on the grounds that they are “detrimental to the public order.” After being arrested in 2016, Zunar has been released on bail while awaiting his court date.
In addition, a travel ban has been imposed on Zunar in October 2016 without justification. He has challenged the ban and his case is scheduled to be heard by the High Court on 16 November 2017. [Statement by Amnesty International on travel bans]
In September 2017, the U.N. Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural studies, Karima Bennoune, visited Malaysia. In her preliminary report after the visit, she raises the issue of the Sedition Act charges and travel ban against Zunar and calls for both to be dropped.