Reports Confirm That Syrian Cartoonist Akram Raslan Is Dead After Vanishing in 2012

An eyewitness claims to know the truth.

A Akram Raslan cartoon. Photo: Akram Raslan.
A Akram Raslan cartoon. Photo: Akram Raslan.
Mohammad Saba'aneh, Akram Raslan. Photo: Mohammad Saba'aneh.

Mohammad Saba’aneh, Akram Raslan.
Photo: Mohammad Saba’aneh.

Reports now confirm that political cartoonist Akram Raslan died at the hands of Syrian police after vanishing in October 2012, according to Artforum. Raslan had not been heard of since he was abducted from his office.

“[Raslan’s] works were known for being very direct in opposing the Syrian regime,” Palestinian cartoonist Fadi Abou Hassan wrote on Cartoon Movement. “Raslan drew more than 300 cartoons that accompanied the early developments of the Syrian revolution.”

Another detainee claims to have seen the cartoonist die in a prison hospital in the spring of 2013 after being tortured, according to the Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI).

A Akram Raslan cartoon. Photo: Akram Raslan.

A Akram Raslan cartoon.
Photo: Akram Raslan.

“Knowing the history of the Syrian dictatorship, and the very little tolerance of the security forces for any critique of the leader, there was no doubt that Akram would become a target,” formerly imprisoned Iranian-born cartoonist Nikahan Kowsar told the Washington Post.

Meanwhile, artist Atena Farghadani remains imprisoned in Iran for her satirical political cartoon and for having an “indent” relationship with her lawyer.

A Akram Raslan cartoon. Photo: Akram Raslan.

A Akram Raslan cartoon.
Photo: Akram Raslan.

The Jordan-based media site Al Bawaba notes that reports of Raslan’s death by way of execution had previously surfaced in October 2013. However, the lack of verifiable details is increasingly commonplace in the war-torn country: “Usually sent to undisclosed locations and cut off entirely from the rest of the world, Syria’s political prisoners are almost impossible to account for,” the article notes.

“Raslan’s family is not accepting that he’s dead, they’re saying ‘no, he’s alive,’ and other people are too,” Public Radio International global cartoon editor Carol Hills told Al Bawaba. “And we can’t get any verification.”

In 2013, the CRNI honored the missing cartoonist with its annual award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning, “in recognition of his extraordinary courage in confronting the forces of violence with cartoons that told only the truth.”

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