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Monday, May 27, 2024

Zaki Kordillo: A master of Shadow Theater still in the dark

Zaki Kordillo was born on March 15, 1950. He graduated from the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts in 1984. In the following years, he worked at the National Theater for four years and participated in 20 plays. In 1993, he devoted himself to preserving the Shadow Theater tradition in Syria.

Kordillo also spent some time as director of the Al-Hamra Theater in Damascus, created several workshops for students and amateurs, and directed six plays, three of which were for children. As an actor, he played many roles in television series and motion pictures.

“Massacres, massacres for how long?! Haven’t you had enough blood?! We can no longer bear that blood, enough!”

Zaki Kordillo

Kordillo was not afraid to tell the truth from the first moments of the Syrian revolution in 2011. He denounced on his personal page on Facebook all the massacres happening in Syria, and one of his most prominent comments was: “Massacres, massacres for how long?! Haven’t you had enough blood?! We can no longer bear that blood, enough!”

Zaki Kordillo; Credit: Social media

On August 11, 2012, Kordillo was arrested together with his son Mihyar, a student at the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts in Damascus, Adel Barazi, and Ismail Hammouda in the Dummar al-Balad neighborhood in the west of Syria’s capital, Damascus. His abductors also confiscated his family car, personal computers, and cash totaling 500,000 Syrian pounds (the equivalent of 10,000 USD at the time).

The Syrian Artists Syndicate […] did nothing to help in his case as it is run by officials appointed by the Assad regime

According to residents of the neighborhood, some members of the abduction group that stormed Kordillo’s home were known to belong to the Assad regime’s popular committees in charge of security checkpoints in the area.

Despite the fact that there have been numerous calls to set Kordillo and his companions free, their fate remains unknown until today. The Syrian Artists Syndicate, which is supposed to be the advocacy body to which Kordillo belongs, did nothing to help in his case as it is run by officials appointed by the Assad regime.

“Kordillo’s absence is a witness to the brutality of the Assad regime as it does not distinguish between a terrorist and an artist”

Abdulkader Monlla

Asked by Syriawise about Kordillo, Syrian actor and media personality Abdulkader Monlla said: “Kordillo is passionate about theater and is preoccupied with art and its repercussions, looking at it not as a profession, or a field for breadwinning; therefore, he focused on a specific project related to the cultural heritage which is Shadow Theater.”

“Kordillo’s absence is a witness to the brutality of the Assad regime as it does not distinguish between a terrorist and an artist,” Monlla went on to say, adding that “Kordillo sums up what it means to be an artist who has a cause to struggle for.”

Laila Awad, another Syrian actor, said to Syriawise that “Kordillo is a highly professional actor and kind-hearted human being,” adding that his disappearance is an open wound. Awad called for his release on Theatre Day last March. She was also held in Assad prisons before taking refuge in Germany.

The case of Kordillo, who was detained almost 11 years ago, is just one in 130,000 similar cases in Syria, according to the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). And the number continues to rise.

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