25 Brilliant Cartoons That Will Make You Think About Oppression Like Never Before

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“If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”- George Washington

Can someone’s expression become a cause of riots? Can a cartoon incite violence among the minorities of a country who feel offended because it shows them in a bad light? Who marks the boundaries where self-expression turns into offensives against a particular group?

These are the questions that Iranian cartoonist Mana Neyestani must have asked himself repeatedly. His cartoon about Iran’s minority Azeris, landed him in jail and turned his life upside down. He ended up in exile in France. His days in the prison became his motivation to begin socio-political commentary about the oppression of Iran and the word at large.

His cartoon strips have taken the form of a graphic novel titled “An Iranian Metamorphosis,” which was published recently. His work has won him accolades and brickbats from different groups depending on whom he chose to condemn.

Freedom from oppression and condemnation of censorship is the common string running through his cartoons which don’t just speak out but scream in our faces. The hypocrisy of our society and the doublespeak of those who preach the ideals of peace and democracy are brutally revealed in these black and white caricatures. The cartoon strips have made him a sensation in the online world where state censors haven’t fully reached yet.

The voices of dissent can be heard clearly through his cartoons, and his iron will coupled with optimism shines bright through the tough times that the world witnesses today. Following are some of his works around oppression, freedom of speech, herd mentality, nuclear power obsession of Iran and other themes including internet activism.


Context: Effect of the sanctions on Iran due to its nuclear program

oppression cartoon 1


Context: International media’s long ignorance of the Syria war

oppression cartoon 2


Context: State of homosexuals in Iran

oppression cartoon 3


Context: Iran’s deliberation about the bill that would prevent population control measures
Title: Orgasm!

oppression cartoon 4


Context: State of the developing world and rosy picture being painted for the children
Title: Come out, the world is beautiful!

Come out, the world is beautiful.


Context: Freedom through war (Bush and drone attacks)
Title: Freedom for a second

freedom for a minute


Context: Censorship



Context: False portrayals by the media

False portrayals by the media


Context: Manufacturing support for the leaders

freedom of speech


Title: Battle



Context: False sense of freedom

Breaking free


Title: Constructive Criticism

Constructive Criticism


Title: Extremists



Title: Medical Care

Medical Care


Title: Lashes



Context: Iran’s nuclear obsession

Iran’s nuclear obsession


Title: Naked



Context: Illustration of the contest between Iran and its international foes

Cartoon of the Day. Mana Neyestani illustrates the contest between Iran and its international foes


Title: Trust was banned

Trust was banned


Context: Political lies

Political lies


Context: Syria’s non allegiance to UN

Syria’s non allegiance to UN


Title: Few Centimeters to the Execution

Few Centimeters to the Execution


Context: Gender Equality

Women's equality


Context: Contrast between the developed and developing world

Contrast between the developed and developing world


Context: Hope



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