• Monday, Jan 30, 2023
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Cartoonist arrested under DSA gets Courage in Cartooning Award 2020

  • Published at 04:35 pm October 4th, 2020
Ahmed Kabir Kishore
Ahmed Kabir Kishore Collected

Kishore was arrested under the Digital Security Act in Bangladesh on May 5

Ahmed Kabir Kishore, a Bangladeshi cartoonist, has been given the Robert Russell Courage in Cartooning Award 2020.

The award, which aims to recognize the troubles of cartoonists experiencing human rights violations, is presented annually by Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI). 

Kishore was arrested under the Digital Security Act in Bangladesh on May 5. Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested the cartoonist from Dhaka for alleged anti-government posts on Facebook.

In an article featured on the CRNI website front interface on Sunday, the forum demanded Kishore's immediate release. They also demanded the withdrawal of all criminal charges against him and an independent investigation into his treatment as a captive.

Acknowledging Kishore’s work, the article added: "Ahmed is a cartoonist and activist known to CRNI for over a decade. He campaigned bravely on behalf of disappeared Sri Lankan cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda [in 2010], and jailed Bangladeshi cartoonist Arifur Rahman [in 2007], and is identified as a CRNI affiliate leader in the country. 

"Doing so [campaigning for disappeared and jailed cartoonists] inevitably made him a target for accusations of aligning with foreign interests. This speaks to his courage, as do his public demonstrations for human rights, not only of cartoonists, but also Hijra people, and in defence of health and consumer rights and the Bengali language," the article further said.

"Through April and into May of this year, Ahmed [Kishore] posted to Facebook, a series of cartoons he entitled 'Life in the Time of Corona,' satirizing society’s response to, and critical of the government’s handling of public health during the pandemic," it continued. 

It also added: "Lawyers at the Ain-O-Shalish Kendra (ASK) legal aid organization have seen the charge sheet and tell us that Ahmed is alleged to have taken part in a 'conspiracy, spreading rumors and misinformation against prime minister Sheikh Hasina and her late father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.' Ahmed is alleged to be an administrator on a Facebook page called ‘I am Bangladeshi,’ which is considered as the main subject of investigation by the authorities."

"In the ensuing months of detention, Ahmed has been denied a bail hearing on three occasions (May 17th, June 16th, and July 23rd) and subjected to periods of what’s described as “jail gate interrogation,” this despite the ongoing and imminent threat to prison populations posed by COVID-19, and the release of literally thousands of criminally prosecuted people from jail in Bangladesh for precisely that reason. Ahmed is an insulin-dependent diabetic, meaning he should be afforded some extra protection from infection," it said.

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