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18 Powerful Cartoons That Will Make You Think About Oppression Like Never Before

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By Mayank Jain:

“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 world at large.

His cartoon strips have taken the form of a graphic novel titled “An Iranian Metamorphosis”. 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

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


Context: State of homosexual people in Iran

homosexuals in iran

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


Context: State of the developing world and rosy picture being painted for the children
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 32582_122256154482526_5369139_n

Context: 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


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


Context: 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

Context: Hope


To know more about this story and what I think, follow me on Twitter at @mayank1029<

You must be to comment.
  1. mahigala7

    A Picture is worth thousand words !!!! These caricatures are priceless.

  2. Veda Nadendla

    This is just brilliant!

    My favourites are Syria’s non allegiance, Gender Equality, Naked, Orgasm and Constructive Criticism. Beautifully done.

  3. Prashant Kaushik

    Great compilation. Well Done.

  4. Avinash Kumar

    Each and every one of the pictures mentioned are truly priceless, that’s for sure; but the last one was incredible. Great work Mayank!

  5. siddhant

    Brilliant compilation!

  6. Mohit

    Awesome compilation. I don’t usually comment at random posts I read on internet, but I just had to comment here. Really great work.

  7. Baljeet Kaur

    Cartoons not only depict the hard hitting realities, but are also easy to comprehend!

    Great work Mayank. Continue bringing us the ‘struggles’ and the ‘hopes’ from around the world.

  8. Haifa Zubair

    Great one!!!

  9. Nazim

    I dont agree with the viewpoint that the artist is trying to bring out in some of those cartoons most notably irans nuclear obsession and syria a non member of the UN. But nonetheless i have to appreciate the creativity in putting all the points across.

  10. Gayathri

    absolutely brilliant!

  11. Gaurav

    hindus should read the book – decolonising the hindu mind by koenraad elst. this is a brilliant book

    1. Srishti

      Elst is a hate mongerer with nobody except the Hindu far right backing him- he has no legitimate credentials in the academic world and is only useful for those with a confirmation bias and utter desperation to hold on to their moribund warped world view.

  12. Susmita Abani

    Thanks for sharing these. They just tore through my heart!


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  14. Imran

    Brilliant and very creative. You really have a very good understanding of world affairs and from a neutral perspective.

  15. Ma

    Gender Equality 🙁 That is annoying

  16. Satyender

    I can not resist myself from commenting here. How did you get all these? What an amazing collection, dumbstruck!

    Thank you

  17. Vigneshwaran

    Excellent compilation.. I have never really commented on posts that I happen to come across, but this one is too good not to post a comment. Brilliant!

  18. Kunal

    Very thoughtful compilation. Congrats!

  19. Simble

    This is just brilliant. Great job

  20. Niharika

    Loved each and every one of them. Liked how HOPE is placed 🙂

  21. Darren

    I am actually grateful to the holder of this website who has shared this fantastic article at at this time.

  22. Anitha Choudhary

    Simply Awesome!!! Each picture can raise a hundred questions in every head !!!

  23. Lester

    Spot on with this write-up, I honestly believe that this web site needs a lot more
    attention. I’ll probably be back again to read more, thanks for the info!

  24. Harish

    Great collection of brilliant cartoons.

  25. Saravana Kumar

    Good collection of cartoons, very humorous

  26. durgesh dhote

    very clearly express by the pictures……speechless work

  27. Siddharth

    These sketches stunned me. They were so very verbose to my mind. I feel their pain. :/

  28. Deepanshu

    This page has been surprising me a lot lately. It’s so good to see a ‘youth’ page which is serious about politics, and not just about popularity. Keep up the good work.

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