May 9, 2012, Burke, Virginia - Today Dr. Robert Russell, the Executive Director of the Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI), announced the winners of the 2012 Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award as decided by a unanimous vote of the CRNI Board of Directors. The winners are Ali Ferzat, from Syria, and Aseem Trivedi, from India. CRNI, the only international organization exclusively devoted to defending the human rights of cartoonists imperiled because of their work, will hold the award ceremony during the annual convention of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC) on September 15. The ceremony is currently scheduled to take place at George Washington University's Jack Morton Auditorium in Washington, DC.
Every year, CRNI recognizes a cartoonist who has shown exemplary courage in the face of unrelenting threat, legal action or other pressure as punishment or disincentive for cartoons that are too powerful for some officials, sects, terrorists or demagogues. This year CRNI recognizes two such cartoonists.
Aseem Trivedi, a young cartoonist from India, like Ali Ferzat, made two courageous decisions. First, in an atmosphere of increasing censorship and repression in the world's largest democracy, Aseem launched the Cartoons Against Corruption website. In an effort to mobilize his fellow citizens against India's pervasive political corruption, Aseem filled this site with his anti-corruption cartoons. After being charged with treason and insulting national symbols, Aseem made his second courageous act. Despite the charges and threats of additional charges, he has taken a leadership role in India's emerging free speech movement. Joining forces with other free speech activists, Aseem has launched an online freedom of expression campaign called Save Your Voice: A Movement Against Web Censorship.