The drawings of political cartoonist Kamiran Shamdin cover a range of topics and use a range of motifs to deliver their intended messages: Saddam Hussein congratulating Bashar al-Assad from the grave, “Bravo, my boy”, Syrian victims lay in the balance against a weightless international conscience, Syrian chemical weapons serving US interests and a servile bearded clergyman, among many.
Shamdin, who was born in al-Qamishli (1974) and is currently based in Saudi Arabia, has seen his caricatures published in Aljazeera and Ge P magazine in Iraqi Kurdistan. Like many Syrians, he found in the uprising a breathing space. “The sight of the thousands of Syrians marching in the streets without fear and calling for the downfall of the regime gave me a feeling of solace and of being free myself. Despite my exile, I was a part of them with all my feelings,” he said in an interview with Syria Untold.
Shamdin considers himself a revolutionary even before the revolution. But it was the uprising that inspired him to pen his first drawing at its very beginning. “I wanted to draw so that I can feel like I am a contributing member of this revolution, to feel free. I to use my drawing pen as a weapon against the tyrant, to tell him to leave.” Despite the advice of his friends in the beginning to keep his drawings anonymous, the bravery of Syrians in the face of certain death pushed to put his caution away and liberated him from fears.
He soon published his first signed work, a drawing mocking Bashar al-Assad. He adds that the most beautiful moments of his life came when he saw “Syrians marching down the streets and squares shouting against the legacy of Hafez al-Assad, and calling for the downfall of the regime.”
The drawings of Shamdin deal mostly with the plight of the impoverished citizen, the arrogance of the rulers and the tragedy of our peoples. He considers caricature to be a tool to represent the failures of politics and politicians. Some of his ideas are general in nature and are suitable for any point in time, while others are direct commentaries on specific public events or the news coming from television stations or newspapers. Nevertheless, his topics go beyond the politics to representing the general sufferings of average citizens. A fine example of that is his caricature about the falling value of the Syrian Pound, which shows money falling on the bleeding heads of Syrians.
Like many Syrians, Shamdin dreams of a free and democratic Syria he can come back to soon. He emphasizes the importance of caricature as an organic form of artistic protest, and in the same vein he calls for the release of his friend and fellow cartoonist, Akram Rislan.
You can find out more about Kamiran Shamdin through his Facebook page.