In March 2020, Members of the General Investigation Department of the Ministry of Interior in the Hamas government in Gaza arrested cartoonist Ismail Al-Bozom because of his drawings and Facebook posts, in which he criticised the Hamas government.
The artist was arrested after the post he published in which he comments on the arrest of Abu Sharekh – Palestinian writer who has been arrested on 13 March 2020 for Facebook posts criticising Hamas.
“If the Palestinian factions and human rights organizations are not able to secure the release of Abu Sharekh, who is? Perhaps al-Emadi has more influence than all of them.”
إن كانت الفصائل وحقوق الانسان والشباب والكفلاء ليس لهم وزن لإطلاق سراح أبو شرخ، فمن الذي له وزن ؟؟ العمادي مثلاً .. أثقل منكم كلكم.
Al-Bozom told Freemuse that “the charge was a complaint from the public prosecutor against me, because I made a public statement to defend my friend Abdullah Abu Sharkh, and they wanted to prevent me from defending him or to mention his name.”
When asked about the content of the social media posts and drawings in question, the artists highlighted that he uses his artwork to call for national unity, openness, tolerance and dialogue to understand each other. That is why he is called the “artist of the people”.
“My publications and drawings are for the defence of the people and their rights, and there is no insult, hatred or offence, but I am always positive and I wish the best for all groups of the people,” Al-Bozom told Freemuse.
The artist was released from detention due to COVID-19 pandemic, but he was arrested again a day after that. Al-Bozom says that his second release happened under the condition of him “being silent and not touching on the issue of Abdullah Abu Sharkh.”
Al-Bozom says that he does not belong to a political party and is not supported by one.
“Other cartoonists belong to (political) parties and their parties support them, while I belong to the people … and the people are greater than everyone else.”
You can follow Ismail Al-Bozom’s artwork and support him here.
Members of the Myanmar thangyat troupe Peacock Generation have also been arbitrarily arrested and detained in an effort to restrict non-violent artistic protest and peaceful criticism of the government and military regime. You can sign the petition to call for the release of all artists currently imprisoned here.