Robert Russell

“Bro” Russell is still Executive Director of the Cartoonists’ Rights Network International (CRNI), an NGO he founded in 1999.


 “We are the only NGO in the world dedicated exclusively to monitoring and protecting the free speech rights of political cartoonists…,” he said. “Political cartoonists all over the world experience differing levels of censorship. This censorship ranges from polite slaps on the wrist by an irritated regime, to severe beatings and occasionally an assassination.”


Bro updated CIE in 2016 about their efforts: “Our organization [CRNI] is in the middle of an international effort to get a young cartoonist, Atena Farghadani, out of prison in Tehran, Iran. She has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for drawing the leadership of the country as animals. Months ago, they let her out on a lesser charge, and she immediately tweeted new information about how she was treated in prison, and then they leveled these new charges which resulted in the 12 year sentence…”


Earlier, Bro wrote about the award that CRNI bestows: “Yesterday June 30, 2013, I returned from the annual convention of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists in Salt Lake City. CRNI presents our Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning at this annual convention. This was our 13th year giving what some recipients have called the Nobel Prize for political cartoonists.”


Bro noted that the awarded cartoonist, a young Syrian named Akram Raslan, was unable to attend the ceremony because he was in prison in Syria, arrested about seven months before on charges of sedition and insulting the head of state.


In 2012, Bro was presented the annual Ink Bottle Award by the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC), for the non-cartoonist who has contributed the most to the field of editorial cartooning each year.


Prior to his work with CRNI, Bro spent over two decades in Africa and Asia as a consultant in institutional development and humanitarian assistance. [3/17]





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