The Malaysian government has no sense of humor – and that’s dangerous


By Zunar, via The Washington Post

I’m a cartoonist in a country where cartooning can be a crime. Under my pen name, Zunar, I expose corruption and abuses of power by the Malaysian government. As it happens, I have a good deal of material to work with. For instance, Prime Minister Najib Razak is currently facing questions about a $700 million “donation” made to his personal bank account.

Last February, police raided my home in the middle of the night and hauled me off to jail. I was handcuffed for eight hours and thrown into a cell with all the other criminal suspects. I managed to avoid telling my cellmates what I was in for: using Twitter. Continue reading

Read the full piece published by The Washington Post here

Why I’m Taking Action for Zunar

Drawing with embedded photograph showing one of this years cases for Write for Rights. All design assets associated with this campaign available here: Zulkiflee Anwar “Zunar” Ulhaque faces a lengthy jail sentence after taking to Twitter to condemn the jailing of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. Zunar is a political cartoonist well known for his satirical attacks on government corruption and electoral fraud. He now faces nine charges under the Sedition Act, a draconian, outdated law from 1948 dredged up to grant the government sweeping powers to arrest and lock up its critics. In the first six months of 2015, more than 40 journalists, academics, political activists and lawyers were interrogated, arrested or charged under the Sedition Act. The space for dissent and debate in Malaysia is disappearing fast.

By Harry Belafonte, artist and activist 

All my life I have used my art to fight for social justice. So when I see freedom of expression under serious attack, I must act.

That is why I stand with Amnesty International today in demanding justice for courageous Malaysian cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar “Zunar” Ulhaque, who is facing decades in prison for political Tweets he sent in February.

Join me. Urge the Malaysian government to immediately drop the charges against Zunar.


Exploitation of Nepal’s Migrant Workers

Nepal migrant workers

Families of migrant workers in Morang district, Nepal, 2011, who were interviewed by Amnesty International.

 “Migrant workers from Nepal and other countries are like cattle in Kuwait.  Actually, cattle are probably more expensive than migrant workers there.  No one cares whether we die or are killed. Our lives have no value.” –N.R., domestic worker from Ilam district, Nepal

Anyone who has waited for a flight at Kathmandu, Nepal’s international airport has seen the large groups of men and women quietly lining up to board flights for Qatar or Malaysia, many appearing nervous, clutching only their papers or a small bag of belongings.

But the men and women boarding these flights have reason to be nervous. While some Nepalese migrant workers arrive in the destination country and earn decent wages, others end up in forced labor or exploitative conditions.

These are some of the estimated 25,000 people a month who leave Nepal for work abroad to escape poverty and unemployment at home and to send remittances back to their families in Nepal.


Crackdown in Malaysia

By Jeanne Marie Stumpf, Malaysian Country Specialist for Amnesty USA

As a current member of the UN Human Rights Council, the Malaysian government should be setting an example to other nations and promoting human rights. Instead they appear to be suppressing them, in the worst campaign of repression we’ve seen in the country for years.

malaysia protests

Protesters are met with excessive force by police on 9 July rally (c)Mohd Fazrul Hasnor/Demotix

A peaceful rally addressing election reform in Kuala Lumpur resulted in mass arrests on July 9th.  All of the 1,667 people detained on the day of the march were later released, but days earlier the Malaysian government arrested around 40 people including six members of the Socialist Party.

The detainees, including Socialist Party MP Dr. Jeyakumar Devaraj are being held under an Emergency Ordinance at an undisclosed location.   Others arrested before the rally, most for possession of illegal materials such as rally t-shirts, could be imprisoned for up to five years and fined for having exercised their right to peaceful expression and assembly.


If I can blog, why can't he?

I can sit in my ergonomic chair as I type, comforted not only by the lower back support, but by the knowledge that whatever I type here will not get me thrown into the local jail. But others are not so lucky…..

…they don’t have an ergonomic chair. 

Yeah, maybe Raja Petra, Malaysian political commentator for the blog Malaysia Today, doesn’t have an ergonomic chair by his computer. But that’s not biggest denial of human rights he has suffered as a journalist.

Raja was detained in September, his second time in prison for blogging. His “devious” crime? He wrote of wrongdoing by Malaysian goverment officials. But they arrested him under the “Internal Security Act,” saying he threatened public security and caused racial tension by posting blog entries that ridiculed Islam.

The courts, recognizing his detention was unjust, ruled to release him today. But the law does not say he cannot be rearrested. And the government can appeal the ruling, landing him back in a prison where–I am sure–the chairs are not ergonomic.

Raja should have the same rights I do, under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to freedom of opinion and information.  But he doesn’t, and instead waits in prison while they decide his fate.

There might not even be *a* chair in there

There might not even be *a* chair in there

He’s what I’m thinking about this morning.