I just had an interesting telephone conversation with my friend, Nik Kowsar. Nik was a top editorial cartoonist in Iran until his cartoons became too much of an irritant to the regime and he was thrown into the notorious Evin Prison. Nik left Iran for Canada where he now lives and he works for Radio Zamaneh, based in Holland. A selection of Nik's recent cartoons about the election turmoil in Iran is posted below.
Nik tells me he is not optimistic about prospects in Iran in the short term. He's been working with a group of Iranian ex-pats to confirm information that is pouring out of Iran now that the government is cracking down on protestors. Nik's group will be putting up a new web site in the next few days, with the latest, vetted news from sources in Iran.
Nik has been keeping in close touch with many Iranian bloggers, who are drying up as sources as they are "detained" by the regime. Popular social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have been blocked in Iran. My cagle.msnbc.com site has long been blocked in Iran. However, the Internet is still available in Iran and people are finding ways to get their e-mail out to the rest of the world.
Nik tells me that vetting the reports is often difficult. He gave me an example of a photograph of a baby that had been shot in the back that came to him from multiple sources, reportedly shot by Iranian government "goon squads." In fact, the photo was from Gaza. When information is passed around on the web, it can take on a life of it's own "“ making Nik's job a tough one.
Nik also gave me an update on Mana Neyestani, the Iranian cartoonist that I reported on a couple of years ago, here in my blog. Mana drew a cartoon of a bug that was interpreted to be an ethnic slur, and he was thrown in prison. Mana escaped Iran but found it difficult to get political asylum; he is currently fine, and attending college on a student visa in Malaysia. Nik will soon be sending along some recent cartoons from Mana for the blog.