Cartoonist Zunar Sues Police, Government for Wrongful Arrest

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Zulkiflee SM Anwarul Haquem, better known as Zunar, is suing the police and the government, alleging that his arrest at a fundraising event at the Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) on Dec 17 last year was unlawful.

According to Zunar, he was not informed of the reason why he was arrested by the police during his Tea With Zunar event, FMT news portal reported.

“The police from Dang Wangi police station arrested me unlawfully and denied me my personal freedom,” he said in his statement of claim, filed today at the Kuala Lumpur High Court registry.

The political cartoonist is seeking a court declaration that the police had breached his constitutional rights and damages over the false imprisonment.

He is seeking special damages of RM22,388, which he said is the cost of 1,187 books and 103 pieces of t-shirts seized – an action that Zunar said was without any basis.

He also demanded to know why the police confiscated his books and kept them.

“My books are not banned and I was only selling them to my fans during the fundraising event. What is wrong with that?” Zunar asked.

He named the Inspector-General of Police, Dang Wangi criminal investigation department chief Gunalan Muniandy, police officer Mohamad Ridzuann Samsudin, 16 unidentified policemen who were said to be involved in the raid and the government in his lawsuit.

His lawyer, N Surendran, said that the constant arrests against his client are unlawful and they will continue to take those who arrested Zunar to court.

“No more tolerance. They have a duty under the Police Act and they should act within the ambit of the law,” said Surendran.

Zunar’s first arrest was at an art exhibition featuring his work in Komtar, Penang, on Nov 26 last year, under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act 1948 and Section 504 of the Penal Code, which deals with insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace.

He was forced to cancel his exhibition.

Zunar said he will also be filing a lawsuit in Penang soon, demanding that police return the 40 artworks that were confiscated at the Komtar exhibition.

On Jul 30, he stunned his fans in Penang when he arrived in a shocking pink shirt at the forum Defending Freedom of Expression, which was organised by Aliran and held at the Caring Society Complex.

“I wear pink as a sign of protest because I was threatened and forced to abort my exhibition, Ketawa Pink Pink, which was supposed to be displayed on Beach Street yesterday,” Zunar said.

He added that in future, he would not have to cancel his exhibition abruptly due to the fear of his opponents as he is now armed with a group of “bodyguards”.

The “bodyguards” from Parti Amanah Negara’s voluntary corps (Arif) were in orange uniform and have vowed to protect Zunar whenever he exhibits his work in Penang.

He was forced to cancel Ketawa Pink Pink, his first street exhibition, because of “threats from a group of troublemakers”. The exhibition was to feature his drawings of a well-known woman with pink diamond jewellery.

It was reported that Zunar said he was getting tired dealing with the troublemakers sent to “disturb” his exhibition, which was deemed “dangerous” and anti-government.