Friday, August 18, 2017

Facebook unblocks cartoonist’s page

A prominent cartoonist who ruffled feathers with a satirical cartoon of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is now back on Facebook after his page was blocked. Facebook spokesperson Clare Wareing apologised yesterday for the suspension of S Thar Htoo’s account, which arose after complaints from unknown users had invoked the social medium’s authentic name policy.

Cartoonist Maung Maung Fountain works at his desk in his Yangon home.( Aung Myin Ye Zaw / The Myanmar Times)Cartoonist Maung Maung Fountain works at his desk in his Yangon home.( Aung Myin Ye Zaw / The Myanmar Times)

The cartoonist is better known under his pen name, Maung Maung Fountain.

On January 7 a cartoon by him appeared in The Irrawaddy depicting a woman holding a crown out of the reach of two boys, one of whom is wearing a ceremonial gaung baung similar to the headwear worn by members of parliament. The boys are reproaching the woman, saying, “We did what you wanted. Now, what about what we want?”

The cartoonist said he was exercising his right to satirise the National League for Democracy. However, it seems that not all fellow Facebook users appreciated the joke.

“I was taken aback by the response from these unknown users. Perhaps they are not familiar with democracy,” Maung Maung Fountain told The Myanmar Times yesterday.

“We will get more practice in democracy when the new government comes in,” he added.

However, he said the personal abuse he suffered via social media represented an attack on all cartoonists and on their freedom of expression.

“I admire the Lady [Daw Aung San Suu Kyi], but that won’t affect my cartooning. The Lady is the Lady, and satire is satire. I did this cartoon because it’s time for a change,” he said, in a reference to the NLD campaign slogan.

The Irrawaddy’s Myanmar edition editor U Thar Lon Zaung Htet said he had published the satire because cartoonists had the right to express their views through their work. Other editors, he said, might have avoided publishing the cartoon for fear of losing circulation.

“We decided to run it despite the threat of being bullied on social media,” he said.

Cartoonist Soe Thaw Dar questioned the application of the electronic media law to cartoonists exercising freedom of expression in their work and their posts.

“It looks as if some people think they are above the law, which should guarantee justice for all,” he said.

“When true democracy arrives, people will have to be more responsible for their actions,” he added.