Morrison should vent his fury at crimes by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan, not me: cartoonist
Published: Dec 01, 2020 11:46 AM

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison Photo: IC

The Chinese cartoonist who created a picture based on the facts of Australian soldiers' crimes in Afghanistan has a message for Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison: divert your anger to Australian soldiers who committed the atrocity, not at me or the Chinese Foreign Ministry, in response to Morrison's demand for an apology from China over a tweet by a Foreign Ministry spokesperson featuring a cartoon depicting an Australian soldier murdering a child.

Morrison earlier Monday demanded an apology from China over a tweet by spokesperson Zhao Lijian, claiming the cartoon was fake and that China should feel "ashamed" of it.

On Monday, Zhao tweeted a satirical cartoon depicting an Australian soldier murdering a child. Zhao commented: "Shocked by murder of Afghan civilians & prisoners by Australian soldiers. We strongly condemn such acts, & call for holding them accountable."

In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying on Monday rejected Morrison's demand, saying that the Australian government should feel "ashamed" for murdering Afghan civilians. 

Morrison's demand for an apology from China over Zhao's tweet also triggered a backlash from the cartoon's creator, Wuheqilin.

Wuheqilin told the Global Times on Monday that he was surprised by the Australian prime minister's strong reaction to his fact-based cartoon. 

"Morrison's outrage should not target Zhao, or me, but the crimes by the Australian soldiers in Afghanistan," Wuheqilin said.

Responding to the "fake" picture accusation from Morrison, Wuheqilin said although this painting is an artistic creation, its content is based on real events, and he used a metaphor to present it.

He recalled that his inspiration for the cartoon came from seeing foreign media reports of the murders earlier last month, which "shocked" him and made him "shudder."

"I drew the picture on November 23 after I saw a news report that Australian soldiers in Afghanistan cut the throats of Afghan 14-year-old boys, which made me shudder and feel extreme fear and anger," he said, noting that "this is not something that should happen in today's civilized human society."

Wuheqilin said he drew the absurdist cartoon based on the facts in an attempt to attract public attention to the Australian crime in Afghanistan and prompt introspection over the inhumane cases.

According to the report by the Australian Department of Defense, members of the Australian Special Air Service Regiment put two 14-year-old boys into bags after cutting their throats and threw them into a river. It also said that Australian Special Forces would open fire, killing many men and sometimes women and children in a village as they ran away in what were "sanctioned massacres."

Wuheqilin said he put many real elements of the tragic event into his work in the form of artistic metaphor, because "I don't want to present this cruel picture too directly to the reader."

In the picture, the bodies behind the soldier are covered with the Australian flag and the head of an Afghan boy is wrapped with a corner of the flag.

"I drew the young man holding a white baby lamb to contrast with the color of the painting, so that when the reader sees it, they will notice the lamb first before seeing that the boy has a knife to his throat," Wuheqilin explained.

He said he designed an Australian flag in blue "swallowing" the Afghan flag in red, which is also an allusion to the reality of the war crimes committed by some countries like the US and Australia in Afghanistan.

He noted that he is working on a new political satirical cartoon about the latest China-Australian tensions.