Monday, August 29, 2016

Refugee detained on Manus Island Wins Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning

From The Guardian.


An Iranian man currently detained in the Manus Island detention centre has won an international cartooning award for courage.

Ali, who goes by the pen name Eaten Fish, has been detained in Australia’s offshore immigration processing centre for more than three years. The 25-year-old suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder and has been assaulted while in the centre.

In giving Ali the award for courage in editorial cartooning, the Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI) said his work “pushes through the veil of secrecy and silence and layers of fences in a way that only a talented artist speaking from the inside can”.

“Eaten Fish has been able to keep up a stream of cartoons documenting the unspeakable abuses and excesses of the guards and administrators of the camp,” said the organisation.

“For this he has been the subject of beatings, deprivation of food and, even worse, degrading treatment by the guards. Australia has made publication of negative information about the camp punishable by two years in prison.

“Eaten Fish is one of those whose work as a cartoonist brings to light the horrors that are happening around him. CRNI believes that his body of work will be recognised as some of the most important in documenting and communicating the human rights abuses and excruciating agony of daily life in this notorious and illegal prison camp.”

CRNI is an international human rights organisation with a network of more than 600 illustrators. It seeks to support and defend cartoonists facing censorship, intimidation, imprisonment, violence and death.

It campaigns for protection and freedom of cartoonists, and its annual award seeks to honour an individual for expressing their freedom of speech rights.

“We do not award a cartoon,” the organisation said. “We make no comment on the quality or intent of a specific cartoon. We award a cartoonist under threat or attack.”

Medical experts and advocates have pushed for Ali to be brought to Australia for medical care of his mental and physical illnesses, including post-traumatic stress disorder, OCD and panic attacks.

More than 30 Australian cartoonists, including the Guardian’s First Dog on the Moon and David Squires, as well as David Rowe, Jon Kudelka, David Pope, Fiona Katauskas and Cathy Wilcox, drew cartoons in support of Ali.

The cartoonist’s Australia-based advocate, Janet Galbraith, who will accept Ali’s award on his behalf, has previously told Guardian Australia she fears for his life.

“He arrived in Manus as a young man who was already quite a vulnerable person and I remember being told by some of the workers there that this guy just doesn’t fit here at all, it’s so dangerous for him,” Galbraith said.

“That has played out. He has severe OCD, he will wash his clothes or body for hours and still feel like it’s disgusting. He will wash himself until he’s bleeding.”

She said Ali has frequently been targeted by some guards and occasionally by other detainees.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has defended the care and treatment of Ali in the Manus centre.


Here is the press release issued by Joel Pett, President of the Board of Directors of Cartoonists Rights Network International:

Every year, CRNI searches the world of political cartooning for those who have demonstrated exceptional courage and resilience in the face of life-threatening risk and danger. Political cartoonists are often the first journalists to be attacked for their irreverent and satirical commentary against tyrants and terrorists alike. 
Because their cartoons are so immediately recognizable, they often have more power and influence over public opinion than other media. 
This year’s recipient, whose pen name is Eaten Fish, is an Iranian national, currently interned in the Manus Island detention camp in Papua New Guinea. This notorious detention center is funded and overseen by the government of Australia. 
Various human rights groups have spoken out against the Manus Island camp, with the UN recognizing that indefinite detention and the practices employed in the camp constitute ‘cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment’ and break the UN Convention Against Torture to which Australia is a signatory. 
Eaten Fish has been able to keep up a stream of cartoons documenting the unspeakable abuses and excesses of the guards and administrators of the camp. For this he has been the subject of beatings, deprivation of food, and even worse degrading treatment by the guards. Australia has made publication of negative information about the camp punishable by two years in prison. 
The importance of the work of human rights defenders, artists, cartoonists and writers, such as Eaten Fish, within the prison camp cannot be overstated. Nor can the fact that they are at further risk of violence each time they create, speak, draw or write. 
Eaten Fish is one of those who’s work as a cartoonist brings to light the horrors that are happening around him. CRNI believes that his body of work will be recognized as some of the most important in documenting and communicating the human rights abuses and excruciating agony of daily life in this notorious and illegal prison camp. 
His work pushes through the veil of secrecy and silence and layers of fences in a way that only a talented artist speaking from the inside can. 
We hope that this award will help shine a brighter light on the excesses of this camp. His work is addressed to the critical eyes of the world while exposing the xenophobic and racist policies of the Australian government in their dealings with immigrant refugees. 
The award will be presented in absentia and accepted by Ms. Janet Galbraith, an Australian poet and human rights worker, and founder of Writing Through Fences.
Ms. Galbraith has made it her business to uncover the excesses of the Australian government’s policies in the Manus Island camp. 
The award will be presented at the final dinner of the annual convention of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists in Durham, North Carolina on September 24, 2016.

UPDATE

"Refugee on Manus recognised for cartoon work" on Radio New Zealand.

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