2013 AKRAM RASLAN (SYRIA) CRNI’s 2013 Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning

CRNI’s 2013 Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning was given to Syrian cartoonist Akram Raslan, whose fate remains unknown since his arrest by Syrian Military Intelligence on October 2, 2012. Our Board’s choice was based solely on reports from other non-governmental organizations, as CRNI was not able to establish any contact with the journalist, or his family. According to these sources, Mr Raslan, who is now 28, is still in prison at an unknown location in Syria. We know little about his present whereabouts or his condition.

The award was presented to Mr. Raslan in absentia by CRNI founder and Executive Director Dr. Robert Russell, in recognition of the extreme danger Mr. Raslan faces daily at the hands of the Syrian authorities, and to further spotlight his disappearance.

The June 29th award ceremony, which took place in coordination with the annual Association of American Editorial Cartoonistsconvention, was attended by journalistic notables Pat Oliphant, the dean of American editorial cartoonists, and Victor Navasky, Publisher Emeritus of The Nation and noted author who currently chairs the Columbia Journalism Review, where he is a professor at the University’s School of Journalism.

CRNI is continuing our efforts to get Syrian authorities to produce Mr. Raslan, who has not been seen or spoken to by anyone on the outside since his arrest in October of 2012 at the offices of his newspaper, Al-Fida, in the city of Hama.

In addition to being deprived of legal counsel and all other due process rights, at least one reliable source reports that Mr Raslan has been beaten and tortured. It has also been reported that he will be tried in a new special court created to punish dissenters, where he will be brought up on charges of sedition, and insulting the integrity of the Syrian state.

The charges are derived from Akram’s cartoons critical of Pres. Bashir al-Assad and his conduct of the war currently raging in Syria.   [latest update]