Target: Supreme Court of India
Goal: Allow Indian political cartoonist Aseem Trivedi to go free and retract charges of sedition
Aseem Trivedi is a winner of the 2012 “Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award” by the U.S.-based Cartoonists Rights Network International. In a December anti-corruption protest in Mumbai, Trivedi displayed a piece of artwork criticizing widespread corruption within the Indian government. His drawings allegedly showed the four lions of India’s national symbol replaced by four wolves along with the national slogan “truth shall prevail” replaced by “corruption shall prevail.”
Police later issued a warrant based on complaints that the cartoons were “insulting”, and he was charged with sedition. This is defined as an act that “brings hatred or attempts to excite disaffection toward the government”, dating back to the colonial era British rule which used the law to discredit freedom fighters. The charge is punishable by up to life in prison. Trivedi refused bail, saying he would stay in jail until the sedition charges against him were lifted.
Many Indian protestors cite this incident as proof of the very claims Trivedi’s artwork makes, illustrating the government’s intolerance and sensitivity to any form of criticism. Aseem Trivedi has committed no crime whatsoever, and it is necessary that he not only be freed from prison, but that the charges of sedition be lifted.
Dear Supreme Court of India,
Political cartoonist Aseem Trivedi was recently arrested for drawings he made depicting the four Indian lions replaced by wolves along with the national slogan modified to read “corruption shall prevail”. For this, he was a charged with sedition and is currently being held in jail.
Although there is no doubt as to the clear and direct criticism leveled against the Indian government in Trivedi’s work, he has in fact committed no actual crime. For this reason alone, he should be released from jail. Moreover, his actions are not severe enough to warrant the charges of sedition. The government’s reaction to his work does nothing but add substance to the claims made by activists that the Indian government is overly-sensitive to any criticism. This level of intolerance can be seen by many as evidence of the very corruption which is refuted by the government.
If the government wishes to approach the subject in a manner which makes a stand for its good image, the only appropriate first step is to release Aseem Trivedi and lift the charges of sedition made against him.
[Your Name Here]