Bangkok, February 17, 2015–In an escalating campaign of harassment, Malaysian authorities seized copies of a new volume of political cartoons by Zulkiflee Awar Ulhaque, also known as Zunar, on Saturday, according to news reports. In the past three weeks, police have confiscated three separate volumes of Zunar’s cartoons and detained him for four days on accusations of sedition in connection with critical posts he wrote on social media.
Police seized approximately 200 copies of Zunar’s new book, ROS in Kangkong Land, while they were in transit to a launch event scheduled to occur in Petaling Jaya city, according to news reports. The book lampoons Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, and also touches on the trial of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim who stands accused of sodomy, reports said. Authorities did not immediately comment on the police action.
“The ongoing harassment and legal threats against cartoonist Zunar make a mockery of Malaysia’s democracy,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “Prime Minister Najib Razak should use his authority to stop the harassment of Zunar and the bogus sedition investigation against him and instead return his attention to reforming outdated laws like the Sedition Act that are too often abused to threaten and punish journalists.”
On February 10, Zunar was detained on sedition accusations for tweeting critically about a perceived lack of independence in a high court decision to jail opposition leader Anwar on sodomy charges. Zunar was released on bail four days later pending further police investigation.
Zunar told CPJ by email that police had launched two sedition probes against him, one for his critical tweeting on the Anwar verdict, the other for two of his cartoon volumes, Conspiracy to Imprison Anwar and Pirates of the Carry BN, seized in a police raid on his office on January 28.
The prominent cartoonist is also still under police investigation on charges of sedition filed against him in 2010 over a previous volume of cartoons, Cartoon-o-phobia. He faces up to three years in prison for each of the three sedition accusations currently under police investigation.
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