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After four years of detention on Manus Island refugee camp, cartoonist Eaten Fish is now free

Campaigners for cartoonist Ali Dorani (Mr. Eaten Fish) demand he be allowed into Australia for medical care during a protest in Melbourne, Australia, 18 February 2017
Campaigners for cartoonist Ali Dorani (Mr. Eaten Fish) demand he be allowed into Australia for medical care during a protest in Melbourne, Australia, 18 February 2017

Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

This statement was originally published on on 18 December 2017.

Cartoonists Rights Network International is absolutely delighted to receive news from our colleagues at the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) that our cartoonist colleague, friend and client Ali Durani, better known to all of us as Eaten Fish, has arrived in a safe haven country and will now take up residence in a safe haven city.

This brings a new chapter to Ali's story, which started about 4 years ago when he was interred in an immigrant refugee camp in Papua New Guinea run by the Australian government. He and thousands of other Inmates on Manus Island have suffered terrible indignities and the loss of almost all of their civil rights. There have been incidences of murder, suicide, hunger strikes, gross sexual assaults, for years, all while under the "care" of the Australian government.

Read more about his story from earlier posts on our website.

CRNI aided the brave and hard-working human rights worker, Janet Galbraith who works for the Through The Wire literary movement in Australia. Galbraith has been a tireless advocate for Ali and other detainees during some of the darkest periods of their illegal incarceration. Some months ago CRNI introduced ICORN and Janet, and as of this press release from ICORN, the rest was human rights history.

For us, this has been the most intractable and difficult cases of a client in grave danger that we have ever been involved with. In 2016 Ali received our Award For Courage In Editorial Cartooning at the annual convention of the AAEC. The international attention that the award brought to Ali's situation has been a major influence on eventually turning a corner for Ali and all of his supporters.

This is all the result of the work of dozens of human rights and free-speech NGOs, the tireless efforts of cartoonists from the Australian cartooning community (especially our friend and colleague First Dog On The Moon, Andrew Marlton) as well as literally thousands of concerned cartoonists from all over the world, including the members of the AAEC and the Canadian Association of Editorial Cartoonists, Cartooning for Peace, the Professional Cartooning Organization UK among others. Special thanks to CRNI's own Nik Kowsar who was the initial contact with Ali and has been a dogged advocate and source of constant support over these rough and challenging years. It's been a long slog for many people but in the end the policies of the Australian government towards the refugee camps in Papua New Guinea have changed.

We send our very best regards to Ali and assure him of our continued attention, appreciation and support. Janet Galbraith has pulled off a major accomplishment that she and her organization should be very proud of. Elizabeth Dyvik along with her colleagues at ICORN have also done an extraordinary job finding sanctuary for Ali. With clients safely placed all over Europe, ICORN provides long-term residencies and a complete package of social, professional, educational support services. Like many other earlier cases of cartoonists in dire straights ICORN has once again proven to be invaluable, coming through and negotiating a happy outcome for Ali when one seemed almost impossible.

We at CRNI will continue to be involved with Ali while he settles into his new environment,

Congratulations to everyone especially the cartoonists who played a role in this wonderful accomplishment. Congratulations to Ali. We've got your back.

Dr. Robert Russell
Executive Director
Cartoonists Rights Never International

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