Aseem Trivedi Nominated and Shortlisted for an Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award


Photograph courtesy of Aseem Trivedi

Anti-corruption cartoonist and the co-recipient of the CRNI 2012 Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning, Aseem Trivedi has been nominated and shortlisted for a Freedom of Expression Award by the venerable free speech organization Index on Censorship.  Aseem has been nominated and shortlisted in the same category – the Arts – as the other co-recipient of last year’s Courage Award and last year’s recipient of the Freedom of Expression Arts Award, Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat.  The other shortlisted nominees in the Arts category of Index’s Freedom of Expression Award include the Russian punk group Pussy Riot, South-African photographer Zanele Muholi, and, Saudi-Arabian film maker Haifaa Al Mansour.  The recipients in all four categories of the 2013 Freedom of Expression Awards – Journalism, Digital Freedom, Advocacy, and the Arts – were announced and honored on March 21st in London.  

Founded in 1972, Index on Censorship is one of the world’s leading organizations promoting freedom of expression.  For the past twelve years, Index has sought to highlight threats to free speech by honoring those brave individuals who refuse to be silenced by dictators, thugs and religious extremists.  To quote Pam Cowburn, Index’s Director of Communications, “The Index Freedom of Expression Awards recognize journalists, bloggers, digital activists, campaigners and artists around the world who, directly or indirectly, are fighting against censorship.  These are the people on the frontline who often experience violence, threats and imprisonment for exercising their right to free speech.  By celebrating their achievements, Index hopes to raise awareness of the threats to free speech seen around the world today – from direct censorship, cover-ups and excessive use of legislation to digital censorship, religious and cultural pressures and a lack of access to information.” 

In a phone interview, Communications Director Pam Cowburn noted two developments in this year’s nominations for their Freedom of Expression Awards.  One, many more nominations were made this year for the Freedom of Expression Awards than in any previous year.  Two, a great deal of that increase in nominations came from democracies, like Aseem’s India.  According to Ms. Cowburn, this “reflects a trend that free expression is increasingly an issue within democracies and emerging democracies as well as authoritarian states.”     

Nominations for Index’s annual Freedom of Expression Awards, just like nominations for CRNI’s annual Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning, can be made by anyone.  Unlike CRNI, Index internally narrows the field of nominees and then publicizes the names of the brave individuals named to the shortlist.  Thus Aseem Trivedi and the other nominees have been recognized by the staff of Index as deserving our concern and thanks for standing up for free speech rights.  In the words of Index CEO Kirsty Hughes, “All of this year's [shortlisted] nominees have shown great courage in speaking out, and fighting censorship and injustice often in very challenging conditions.  Many of them come from established or emerging democracies, reflecting the disturbing fact that censorship is not just the preserve of authoritarian states, and that freedom of expression is an issue that affects us all, wherever we live.” 

CRNI wishes to express our thanks to Index on Censorship for continuing to recognize the vital and often dangerous role that editorial cartoonists play in civil society.

To learn more about the 2013 Index Freedom of Expression Awards and all of this year’s nominees, click on Index Awards 2013.    

UPDATE:  Zanele Muholi, South-African photographer and LGBT activist whose work focuses on gender and sexual identity in post-Apartheid South Africa, has won the Index Freedom of Expression Award for Arts. Dedicating the award to two friends who were victims of hate crimes and later succumbed to HIV complications, Muholi said: "To all the activists, gender activists, visual activists, queer artists; writers, poets, performers, art activists, organic intellectuals who use all art forms of expressions in South Africa. The war is not over till we reach an end to ‘curative rapes’ and brutal killing of black lesbians, gays and transpersons in South Africa."  To see the entire list of Index Freedom of Expression Award recipients, click on Freedom of Expression Awards 2013