It is with great sorrow that the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) has received news of the killing of Syrian human rights defender and cartoonist Akram Raslan. Raslan, the Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI)'s 2013 winner of the Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning, died under torture in a government detention center a few months after being arrested in October 2012 at his workplace in Hama. There had been no confirmed news until Monday of Raslan’s whereabouts since he was detained three years ago.
After he was severely tortured, Raslan’s health reportedly deteriorated suddenly and as a result, he was transferred to a hospital for treatment. It is reported that he died at that time and a witness has confirmed it today.
GCHR believes that Raslan was tortured due to his human rights work and for exercising his right to freedom of expression. He was well known for his courageous cartoons, which accompanied the early developments of the Syrian conflict, highlighting the violations against the Syrian people, which he published in several journals and websites.
Human rights defenders in Syria work in extremely dangerous conditions documenting human rights violations, risking death, imprisonment and torture by security forces and/or armed groups.
The GCHR urges the authorities in Syria to guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders are free to carry out their peaceful and legitimate human rights work without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions. We also urge the international community to act upon cases of other human rights defenders detained in Syria, before it is too late.