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The Italian Cartoonist Unmasking the Powerful

Activist Denounces Injustice Worldwide through Art, Social Media

by Franco Bastida

September 25, 2015

in PanAm Post


As a child Gianluca Costantini often drew images to detach himself from reality and create his own world. Without know it at the time, the famed Italian cartoonist and illustrator set himself off on a journey to bring global injustices to the fore, no matter the country, language, or struggle.+

“My personal target is to denounce human-rights violations, and also to expose those people who wield power and take [sic] decisions,” says Costantini, whose work has been displayed in museums and art centers from Paris to Buenos Aires. 

Yet it is outside the walls of these conventional forums where the artist-turned activist has found the most recognition. More than 41,500 followers await his creations each day onTwitter.

“We don’t have to misunderstand political cartoons or confuse them with satire. Web satire does not interest me at all. Now it seems that you cannot exact political cartoons from the web and social networks.” Continue

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Bahrain Human Rights (2015)

Bahrain’s human rights climate remains highly problematic. The country’s courts convict and imprison peaceful dissenters and have failed to hold officials accountable for torture and other serious rights violations. There is evidence that the security forces continue to use disproportionate force to quell unrest.  Human rights activists and members of the political opposition face arrest and prosecution and dozens have been stripped of their citizenship. Bahrain restricts freedom of speech, and has jailed and fined award-winning Bahraini photographers. Migrant workers in Bahrain endure serious abuses such as unpaid wages, passport confiscation, unsafe housing, excessive work hours, physical abuse and forced labor.

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Justicia 5 Narvarte (2015)

A photographer for an investigative magazine who fled his home state after being harassed has been found dead in Mexico City along with other people.

The body of Rubén Espinosa, who collaborated with Proceso magazine and other media, was identified by a family member at the morgue on Saturday afternoon, the magazine reported, adding that he had two gunshot wounds.

Espinosa had recently gone into exile from the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, where he felt under threat, according to Proceso. His family had lost contact with him on Friday and by Saturday the free speech advocacy group Article 19 had called on Mexican authorities to activate the protocols for locating a missing journalist. 

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#LaTerradiElias - ActionAid (2015)

Rural communities in the Bagamoyo district of Tanzania are opposing a much-lauded sugar cane plantation project planned by EcoEnergy, a Swedish-owned company that has secured a lease of over 20,000 hectares of land for the next 99 years and which is about to push smallholder producers off their land. Although the company has conducted consultations with affected villagers, the research conducted by ActionAid found that the majority have not been offered the choice of whether to be resettled or not,1 and have not been given crucial information about the irreversible effects the project may have on their livelihoods and their rights to food and land. By failing to obtain the free, prior and informed consent of the communities in the area affected by the project, EcoEnergy is grabbing the land of these communities, or risks doing so.

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The story of Chérif Kouachi (2015)

It all started at the Buttes-Chaumont Park in Paris...

It was called “the Iraqi chain of the 19th Arrondissement”.

But let's start from the beginning.

After the death of his Algerian parents, Cherif Kouachi grows up in a foster home in Rennes, Brittany...

He doesn't study hard, he stops at the end of secondary school.

Still a minor, he arrives at the suburb of Gennevilliers with his brother Said.

They engage in petty crimes together.

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Occupy Central (2014)

The 2014 Hong Kong protests, also called the Umbrella Movement (Chinese: 雨傘運動) or Umbrella Revolution (Chinese: 雨傘革命), began in September 2014 when activists in Hong Kong protested outside the Hong Kong Government headquarters and occupied several major city intersections after China's Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) announced its decision on proposed electoral reform. In disallowing civil nominations, the NPCSC made it clear that a 1200-member nominating committee, in which the composition remains subject to a second round of consultation, would elect two to three electoral candidates with more than half of the votes before the general public could vote on them.
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What happens in Iraq? (2014)

On 11 August, Iraq’s highest court ruled that PM Maliki’s bloc is biggest in parliament, meaning Maliki could stay Prime Minister. By 13 August, however, the Iraqi president had tasked Haider al-Abadi with forming a new government, and the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and some Iraqi politicians expressed their wish for a new leadership in Iraq, for example from Haider al-Abadi. Maliki on 14 August stepped down as PM, to support Mr al-Abadi and to “safeguard the high interests of the country”. The U.S. government welcomed this as “another major step forward” in uniting Iraq. On September 9, 2014, Haider al-Abadi had formed a new government and became the new prime minister.
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Portraits of journalists (2014 - 2015)

In the age of the selfie, the idea of drawing portraits of International Journalism Festival speakers might seem a little anachronistic. But let’s be honest: we still like to have our portraits done and we are generally curious to see how others see us. 

The portrait idea and the map where the journalists are located is something specific to Gianluca's art. In his Untitled project he drew more than 300 advertisements of contemporary art exhibitions from all over the world, in Politicalcomics he classified and drew a myriad of news, not broadcasting news, but a sort of disordered flow collate by drawing, an images puzzle of swallowed up histories.
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Stop Bombing Gaza (2014)

On 8 July 2014, Israel launched a military operation which it designated Operation Protective Edge (Hebrew: מִבְצָע צוּק אֵיתָן, Miv'tza Tzuk Eitan, lit. "Operation Strong Cliff") in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip Israeli bombardment, Palestinian rocket attacks, and ground fighting killed more than 2,200 people Gazans. The stated aim of the Israeli operation was to stop rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, which increased after an Israeli crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank was launched following the kidnapping and murder of 3 Israeli teenagers by two Hamas members. On 7 July, after seven Hamas militants died in a tunnel explosion in Khan Yunis...

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Portraits for the Middle-earth (2014)

Portraits from the Middle-earth it's a project realized with the Comic Art students of the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna. The goal of the project is to portray the protagonists of the Middle-earth investigation, with the sketching of those persons who are somehow involved in it. Recently the Public prosecutor's office of Rome inquired into the criminal conspiracy which had controlled the tenders and the public fundings in the Italian capital, discovering the direct links with the Calabrian mafia, the 'Ndrangheta. The gang leader was Massimo Carminati, who was convicted years ago for his association with an extremist right-wing terrorist group, as well as with a notorious...

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Occupy Gezi (2013)

A wave of demonstrations and civil unrest in Turkey began on 28 May 2013, initially to contest the urban development plan for Istanbul's Taksim Gezi Park. The protests were sparked by outrage at the violent eviction of a sit-in at the park protesting the plan. Subsequently, supporting protests and strikes took place across Turkey protesting a wide range of concerns, at the core of which were issues of freedom of the press, of expression, assembly, and the government's encroachment on Turkey's secularism. With no centralised leadership beyond the small assembly that organized the original environmental protest, the protests have been compared...
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Egypt in Turmoil (2013)

From the time Mohamed Morsi was elected as president of Egypt there were continuous protests. This timeline documents these protests. On 22 November 2012, tens of thousands of protesters started to demonstrate against president Mohamed Morsi, after Morsi's government announced a temporary constitutional declaration that in effect granted the president unlimited powers. Morsi deemed the decree necessary to protect the elected constituent assembly from a planned dissolution by judges appointed during the Mubarak-era.

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Protests in Brazil (2013)

The 2013 protests in Brazil, or 2013 Confederations Cup riots, also known as the V for Vinegar Movement, Brazilian Spring, or June Journeys, are ongoing public demonstrations in several Brazilian cities, initiated mainly by the Movimento Passe Livre (Free Fare Movement), a local entity that advocates for free public transportation. The demonstrations were initially organized to protest against increases in bus, train, and metro ticket prices in some Brazilian cities, but grew to include other issues such as the high corruption in the government and police brutality used against some demonstrators. By mid-June, the movement... 

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Iranian presidential election (2013)

Presidential elections were held in Iran on 14 June 2013. Hassan Rouhani won with a landslide victory, elected in the first round of voting with 50.88% of the vote. Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf finished second with 16.46% of the vote. Nearly 36.792 million Iranians voted, 72.77% of eligible voters. The Guardian Council screened 680 registered candidates, approving eight to run in the election; Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, Ali Akbar Velayati, Saeed Jalili, Mohsen Rezaee, Mohammad Gharazi, Hassan Rouhani and Mohammad Reza Aref. Haddad-Adel and Aref later withdrew from the race in the days leading up to the election. Incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad...

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Blood in Algeria (2008)

The Algerian War, also known as the Algerian War of Independence or the Algerian Revolution (Berber: Tagrawla Tadzayrit; Arabic: الثورة الجزائرية‎ Al-thawra Al-Jazaa'iriyya; French: Guerre d'Algérie or Révolution algérienne) was a war between France and the Algerian independence movements from 1954 to 1962, which led to Algeria gaining its independence from France. An important decolonization war, it was a complex conflict characterized by guerrilla warfare, maquis fighting, terrorism, the use of torture by both sides, and counter-terrorism operations. The conflict was also a civil war between loyalist Algerians supporting a French Algeria and their insurrectionist Algerian Muslim counterparts.

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