Arrested Syrian Cartoonist Akram Raslan Still Missing
Nearly five months ago Syrian authorities arrested Akram Raslan (sometimes spelled 'Rslan' or 'Reslan'), a cartoonist employed by a government newspaper. We believe Akram was arrested in response to cartoons critical of the Syrian regime that Akram had drawn outside of his newspaper work. Akram openly shared these cartoons in his own name on the Internet, most notably on the Al Jazeera website. On October 2, 2012, Akram was taken from the offices of Al-Fida (or Fedaa) newspaper in the city of Hama. Despite the best efforts of diplomats and human rights organizations, no news of Akram’s fate has emerged.
Some of Akram’s cartoons depict President Bashar al-Assad. Depicting this head of state in a cartoon is a dangerous act, as fellow Syrian cartoonist and CRNI Courage Award winner Ali Ferzat can attest to. In August of 2011, Ali’s hands were broken by thugs after Ali dared to depict al-Assad. A source close to Akram who prefers to remain anonymous says Akram, just like Ali Ferzat, had received threats.
Akram was born in the city of Souran in 1974. A literature major who graduated from Damascus University, Akram worked for Syrian and Lebanese newspapers before joining Al-Fida. In addition to Al Jazeera, Akram’s work was picked up by the Arab News. To see their tribute to Akram, click on Cartoonist Raslan arrested in Syria.
Below is the cartoon believed to have immediately preceded Akram’s arrest. The cartoon is referencing a slogan chanted by the Shabiha, a pro-government militia. Roughly translated the slogan says, “Burn the country down before surrendering power.” To see more of Akram's work, click on Akram Raslan Tribute Page from the Arab Cartoon House website.
Cartoon by Akram Raslan
The Cartoonists Rights Network International joins with the Doha Centre for Media Freedom in its statement urging the Syrian authorities to "do more to ensure that members of the media are protected and do not face intimidation, harassment or detention as a result of carrying out their work." We likewise urge the Syrian authorities to immediately account for and release journalist Akram Raslan.