Michael Leunig Condemned For Cartoon Comparing Vaccine Mandates To Tiananmen Square Massacre

Michael Leunig Condemned For Cartoon Comparing Vaccine Mandates To Tiananmen Square Massacre
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Michael Leunig, cartoonist, has been widely criticised after posting a cartoon comparing COVID-19 vaccine mandates to the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Leunig has come under fire previously for anti-vaccine statements. In 2015, he compared the then-Victorian government’s No Jab, No Play policy – which legislated that children need to be fully vaccinated before entering childcare or kindergarten – to fascism.

His latest cartoon, posted on Instagram with the caption “mandate”, has drawn strong criticism.

The reference for Leunig’s picture is the infamous ‘Tiananmen Square tank man’, an unidentified man who faced down tanks leaving Tiananmen Square in 1989, after the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

The Massacre was a response to student led protests in favour of free speech and democracy, which were violently suppressed by the Chinese government, with members of the military shooting into the crowd.

An estimated hundreds of thousands of protesters were killed and the event has since been highly censored by the Chinese government.

Many of Leunig’s critics have pointed out the sheer insensitivity of comparing lifesaving vaccines to a brutal act of violence.

In one powerful Twitter thread, writer Elizabeth Flux wrote, “what happened at Tiananmen Square in 1989 was a massacre. Its effects are still being felt today.”

“Just this month, activists in Hong Kong were arrested for their role in organising a vigil. It is dangerous for people to commemorate and atrocity and yet they do it because it matters.”

“So for Leunig to do this, for some twisted anti vaccination message is frankly disgusting. It is privileged. It is ignorant. It makes me sick.”

Many others on the platform were in agreement.

On Instagram, Leunig has recieved support from known anti-vaxxer and former Home and Away actress Isabel Lucas, who commented a fire emoji.

Lucas spoke at an anti-5G protest in 2020, and supported disinformation regarding the tragic death of seventeen year old student Tom Van Dijk, who died of a cardiac arrest earlier this year.

When podcaster Anna Richard shared a post about Van Dijk’s death, falsley claiming it was the result of a COVID-19 vaccine, Lucas commented “thank you”.

However, like on Twitter, other commentators criticised the post. Journalist Jan Fran commented, “what in the hecking heck is this??” while other comments included: “disgusting comparison, completely lacking perspective”, “nope, this isn’t it” and “disappointing”.

The post has received just under 5000 likes.

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