After more than three years of silence, a Middle East-based human rights group claims it has confirmed the 2013 death of famed Syrian cartoonist Akram Raslan at the hands of Syrian government forces.
The Gulf Center for Human Rights reports Raslan died of torture wounds shortly after his 2012 detainment by security forces in the the Syrian city of Hama, citing an eyewitness who reportedly saw the artist in a hospital bed in the city back then.
The story of Raslan's detainment has become a disturbingly common one for Syrian dissidents.
Security services spirited him away to a government prison after the artist began posting political cartoons critical of the Assad regime to his Facebook. His family, friends and colleagues haven’t heard from him since.
This news echoes a similar account from October 2013, when the advocate group Cartoonists' Rights International claimed Raslan had been executed after a sham government trial.
That's why most people had a trouble believing he was dead. No one knew where he’d been taken, what his charge was or seen him go to trial. The mounting questions bred as much pain as they did hope he still might be alive.
And that's exactly the problem. 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.
When his purported death hit headlines back in 2013, PRI's global cartoons editor Carol Hills said that’s the uncertainty that made Raslan's case so difficult to reckon with. How do you mourn a death you may be certain happened?
"The really sad difficult thing is that Raslan's family is not accepting that he's dead, they're saying 'no, he's alive,' and other people are too,” she said. “And we can't get any verification."
See Raslan's work below.
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