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Akram Raslan Wins Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning

RaslanWe recently reported on the fate of Syrian cartoonist Akram Raslan, who disappeared six months ago, and is suspected to be held by the regime of Bashir al-Assad. Cartoonists Rights Network International has announced that Akram is this year's recipient of the Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning. Here is the press release:

Mr. Joel Pett, President of the Board of Directors of the Cartoonists Rights Network International announces that the recipient of the Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning for 2013 is Syrian cartoonist Akram Raslan. 
Mr. Raslan was arrested by Syrian authorities at the offices of his newspaper, Al-Fida in the city of Hama, Syria approximately 6 months ago.  He has been held incommunicado since then.  A reliable source reports that he has been tortured and abused, deprived of any legal counsel, and is now to be put on trial in a special court that has been created for enemies of the state. 
His trial is scheduled for June 3, 2013.  The charges against him are derived from his cartoons that have been critical of Pres. Bashir al-Assad and his conduct of the war currently raging in Syria. According to our source the charges range from collaboration with the rebel groups, working against Syria's Constitution, insulting the country's president, incitement to sedition, promoting revolt against the public order, and undermining the prestige of the Syrian state. 
CRNI gives Akram Aslan our 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. 
CRNI calls upon the Syrian government to drop these charges against Mr. Raslan, and restore him to his family. 
Mr. Raslan's award will be presented at the annual convention of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists taking place in Salt Lake City, Utah USA on June 29, 2013. 
For more information contact CRNI's Executive Director, Robert Russell, at the email address above.  Read about Mr. Raslan's story at

Syrian Cartoonist Soon on Trial

Cartoon by Akram Raslan - image courtesy of tOOns MaGRaslan


Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI) reports that Syrian cartoonist Akram Raslan, who disappeared six months ago, will be put on trial by the Syrian regime:

About six months ago Syrian cartoonist Akram Raslan disappeared in Damascus and was reportedly being held incommunicado by the Bashir al-Assad government. He had been drawing for the Al-Fida (or Fedaa) newspaper in the city of Hama when he was grabbed. Now, he is about to be put on trial.

Very recently, we did receive a report from a reliable but un corroborated source, that Akram Raslan has been tortured repeatedly, and transferred from one prison to another since his illegal detention. This latest report says that he will be put on trial on June 3, 2013 for the crimes of disrespecting the leader, being in league with the rebels, and working against the interests of the state.

You can read the full post here. CRNI also included a template for a letter to the Syrian ambassador, to ask for Akram's release.

RESPECT for Workers' Rights

Set up in 1999, the Fair Labor Association (FLA) is a non profit organisation which combines the efforts of industry, civil society organizations, colleges and universities to protect workers’ rights and improve working conditions worldwide by promoting adherence to international labor standards.

Molina0The global supply chain: consumer, buyer, supplier, worker

The FLA recently initiated a new two-year project, titled 'RESPECT'. The project aims at encourage more responsible purchasing practices within global supply chains, in the garment industry in particular. The supplier, the buyer, the consumer, and the worker are all involved in the supply chain, and all have certain interests. RESPECT will explore and test an approach to facilitate collaboration among buyers, suppliers and consumers.

Cartoon Movement was asked to help FLA to communicate the project by providing visuals that would help communicate the motivations and aims of RESPECT. We asked Nicaruguan artist Pedro X. Molina to do a series of illustrations that would correspond with the different stages of the project.

The first illustration depicts the initial context, which is characterized by lack of dialogue and understanding of the parties involved.


The second illustration focuses on the interests of the buyer and the supplier, and how different interests create problems. The consumer wants a lot of choice at a cheap price, which means the buyer wants products at the lowest possible cost, as fast as possible. To meet these demands, the consequences for the supplier's workforce are overtime and less pay. In addition, working long hours increases the risk of injury.


RESPECT aims to provide a framework for action, and tools that can be used by the different parties involved in the supply chain.


The end result of the project will  -hopefully- be an increase in knowledge and understanding that will lead to more responsible and ethical behaviour.


We specialize in doing cartoon and comic projects that use our international network of artists to bring together different perspectives on a theme or issue. This assignment was different: we functioned more like a production house, working with one artist to create illustrations as part of a communication strategy. We're happy with the end result, though, and also happy to be able to support a project that hopes to improve corporate ethics.

All images by Pedro X. Molina.

Sketches of Iran

Sketches of IranSketches of Iran
Omid Memarian (Editor)
106 pages, $ 29.95

'If a picture is worth a thousand words, then how much would a picture AND a thousand words be worth?' This thought, or something along these lines, must have been the starting point of Sketches of Iran: A Glimpse from the Front Lines of Human Rights, published by The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

The book is a compilation of cartoons by seven Iranian artists, coupled to columns and commentary by Iranian writers, activists and family of activists in prison or dead. The book is partly funded by a Kickstarter campaign, which was used to print the first 1000 copies of the book, but also to ensure that the book ended up in the hands 'of policymakers, human rights advocates, UN officials, and others who can make a difference in the human rights situation in Iran and in the lives of these contributors and others like them.'

ChristiansI have never seen cartoons and text used in quite this way. Instead of one providing support and context to the other, the images and stories enhance each other simultaneously, being dominant and supportive at the same time. The equal weight that is given to both is reflected in the composition of the book, where one page is given to commentary and the full page opposite is reserved for the cartoon. Printed in full-color, the cartoons are all without words, and demonstrate the skill and power of cartoonists from Iran.

To me, the most powerful pages are those where the visuals are tied to the testimonies of the family members whose sons, daughters, wives or husbands that have fell in the grasp of the regime, sentenced to years in jail, or killed by police, military or other government thugs. These heart-wrenching stories bring the reality of activism for human rights very close to home. What do you tell a 3 year old boy whose mother has just been sentenced to 8 years in jail? And what justice is there for father whose son was murdered by the regime?

In these testimonies the words seem to bounce off the image, reverberating with it, resulting in a resounding impact to the reader. Most of the images are powerful, and often a frontal assault on the regime in Iran. They not only show that art and creativity thrive even in the face of oppression, but also that visuals are a strong means of protest.

There are some drawbacks to the book. Some of the commentaries by activists are not particularly well-written, and an inconsistency in style and lay-out of texts makes for a slightly sloppy look sometimes. And there might have been a few more 'real' editorial cartoons instead of portraits. But these minor flaws do not lessen the impact of the book. Not many books can say claim to reinvent the role of editorial cartoons, but Sketches of Iran aims to do exactly that.                                        

Setting the images on equal footing with text is a new concept, and a good one. Browsing through sketches of Iran, we are forced to re-examine our concept of visuals and text, and how they interact. They also succeed in accomplishing the main mission: to present an overview of human rights violations in Iran and to raise awareness. This is not a book to read in one go; instead, it is a book to pick up once in a while to read one or two commentaries and look at some the images. This way of reading actually help the stories and the images to stick.

To maximise the reach of the book, it's available in a bilingual English-Persian edition.

Featured cartoon by Nikahang Kowsar, on the prosecution of Christians in Iran.

Tjeerd Royaards

'Growing Recognition of the Power of Cartoons'

The Doha Center for Media Freedom recently organized a cartoon competition focused on freedom of the press, to mark World Press Freedom Day. One of the judges of the competition was Robert Russell, director of Cartoonists Rights Network International, talks about 'growing recognition of the power of cartoons':

After the events of 9/11, and especially after the unfortunate events following the publication of the now infamous 12 Danish cartoons in 2006, political and social cartooning has emerged into the light of day and is now achieving the recognition that it always should have had.  It is now broadly recognised that political and social cartoons can be extraordinarily powerful.  They change history.
Read the full article on the website of DCMF, which also features a slideshow of the top 25 cartoons of the competition.

Promoting French Comics Culture

BD_FestivalFrance has a thriving comics culture. The Culturethèque, part of the Institut Français in the UK, is organizing a festival from 30 May to June 2 to promote and celebrate French comic culture: BD & Comics Passion.

During the festival, over 3000 comics will be freely available and accesible on computer, tablet and phone. Most of these will be in French, but over 200 will be available translated into English. There is a catch: you need to be a UK resident to gain access to the comics.

However, even if it is for a British audience only, it's good to see comics promoted in this way. What's even better, the selection includes various graphic novels that cover history and politics. Here are a few of the titles that will be available during the festival:

Catalogue de l’exposition L’Algérie à l’ombre des armes, 1830 – 1962
Bonneval Pacha
L'Invention de Vide
L'Année du Lièvre

So, if you're living in the UK, be sure to check it out.

New Partnership:

News247.grCartoon Movement is starting a cooperation with one of the main news websites in Greece, The website informs over 1.5 million visitors each month about news, current events and human interest stories.

This is the first time will include cartoons as part of the content they offer. Over the next three months, will feature 3-4 cartoons from Cartoon Movement every week, to test the appeal and impact of editorial cartoons for their public. We're quietly confident that cartoons will prove to be a popular feature for the site, and hopefully we'll be able to build a solid partnership.