Scholars at Risk monitors reports of threats to academic freedom and higher education communities worldwide, including media articles, blogs, opinion pieces and other announcements. Scholars at Risk identifies situations of concern on its own and welcomes reports submitted by faculty, students and volunteers at participating higher education institutions. Subscribe to SAR’s weekly media review
The below articles have been featured in this year’s media reviews.
‘It was a horror scene’: Scores of Afghan students killed in Kabul suicide bombing aimed at minority Shiites
Pamela Constable and Sharif Hassan, Washington Post, 08/15
The college prep class on the west side of Kabul was just getting underway Wednesday afternoon. All 500 seats in the private learning center were filled with high school students from the local Shiite Muslim community. Suddenly, a stranger strode into the ground-floor hall and detonated a suicide vest, witnesses said. Read more.
SAR spotlight on Professor Adam Braver
Scholars at Risk, 08/14
In this SAR Spotlight, we speak with Professor Adam Braver, Library Program Director and Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Roger Williams University (RWU), on SAR membership, his efforts to establish the SAR-USA section, and plans for RWU to become a field office for the development and support of US-based Student Advocacy Seminars. Read more.
‘This is a revolution’: Who are Nicaragua’s student protesters?
Loes Witschge, Al Jazeera, 08/13
Lyris Solis Gonzalez didn’t realise her classes had been cancelled when she turned up at the University of Engineering (UNI) in Nicaragua’s capital Managua on April 19. Until then, the 19-year-old architecture student didn’t have much of an interest in politics. She didn’t vote in the 2016 general elections because there was no one she wanted to back. Read more.
Hungarian government pushes forward plan to ban gender studies
Rachael Pells, Times Higher Education, 08/13
Hungary’s authoritarian government is pushing forward with a plan to ban gender studies from being taught by the country’s universities, which critics describe as an attempt to “legislate the curriculum of universities”. While the government is yet to formalise such a move, a document outlining the plan was leaked to university leaders at a Hungarian Rectors’ Conference last week. Read more.
Prominent Uighur scholar missing, feared detained
Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Ed, 08/13
A renowned scholar from China’s Uighur ethnic minority group disappeared in December, and her family and friends believe she was secretly detained as part of the Chinese government’s severe crackdown on Uighurs, The New York Times reported. Human rights groups estimate that hundreds of thousands of Uighurs, a predominantly Muslim group, have been detained for weeks, months or years in “re-education centers” in China’s far western Xinjiang region. Read more.
Wave of arrests follow crackdown in Bangladesh
Julia Bleckner, Human Rights Watch, 08/13
An 18-year-old student, recovering from severe injuries he received during street protests in Bangladesh, recently contacted Human Rights Watch. He is concerned for his country, he said, and wants to speak out, but fears not only arbitrary arrest, but also that his attackers will return to ensure his silence. “Let them know about us. Let us feel we are not alone. It’s too much,” he said. Read more.
JNU student leader Umar Khalid attacked in Delhi, escapes unhurt
Times of India, 08/13
Some unidentified men targeted JNU student leader Umar Khali d and gunshots were heard at the Constitution Club near Parliament today, but he escaped unhurt police said. Joint commissioner of police Ajay Chaudhary confirmed that Khalid was attacked at a tea stall outside the club. Read more.
German student David Missal expelled from China after making human rights film
Deutsche Welle, 08/12
German journalism student David Missal has been denied a new Chinese visa to complete his studies at Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University after he made a film about the country’s persecution of human rights lawyers. Missal told the German news agency dpa that he was due to leave the country on Sunday after his residence permit was shortened and his student visa was not extended. Read more.
Chinese professor detained during VOA interview reportedly returns home
Yibing Feng, Voice of America, 08/12
A retired Chinese professor who was taken away by authorities during a live television interview with VOA’s Mandarin Service nearly two weeks ago, has been allowed to return home under strict security, close friends told VOA on Monday. Sun Wenguang, 84, told the friends that after he was detained on August 1, he was moved to several locations including Yanzi Mountain Villa at Jinan Military Region, a military-linked hotel and reception center in Jinan, eastern China, his hometown. Read more.
Saudi Arabia’s reforms expand the space for women — but still deny them a voice of their own
Judith Tucker and Miriam Lowi, Washington Post, 08/11
On June 24, Saudi Arabia, making a long-awaited change, officially lifted its ban on women driving. Yet for the past seven weeks, Hatoon al-Fassi, an internationally known scholar, professor and women’s rights advocate, has remained in detention, having been arrested just as she was preparing to exercise the newly granted permission to drive in her country. Read more.
‘We are dreaming of justice.’ Bangladeshi students demand change after traffic deaths
Laignee Barron, Time, 08/09
Mohammad should have been studying for his upcoming college entrance exam. Instead the 17-year-old set out to document the mass student protests that have gripped Bangladesh’s capital for the past two weeks, pitting the righteous indignation of schoolchildren against the brute force of the state. Read more.
Philippines to deport Australian academic blacklisted for protest
The Philippines has denied entry to an elderly Australian activist for being a “threat to public order” and would deport him, officials said on Thursday, the latest action against foreigners accused of protesting against the government. Gill Boehringer, 84, a former law professor at Sydney’s Macquarie University, was refused entry at Manila’s airport late on Wednesday because he was on a blacklist for joining a demonstration in 2015. He said that was “absolute nonsense”. Read more.
Nuriye Gülmen detained in Bodrum
Academic Nuriye Gülmen and Mehmet Dersulu, who have gone to Bodrum in Muğla to support Engin Karataş, a class teacher protesting with the demand that he be reinstated to his job, have been taken into custody. The Legal Bureau of the People released a statement and announced that Gülmen and Dersulu were detained in Değirmenler yesterday (August 8) when they wanted to fly a kite. They met their attorneys today. Read more.
Turkey’s dismissed academics want their passports back after state of emergency lifted
Stockholm Center for Freedom, 08/07
Turkish academics who were dismissed from their jobs by government decrees during a two-year-long state of emergency have started a campaign on social media to bring up the issue of restrictions still imposed on their passports. The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy and human rights activist Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu held a press conference in parliament on Monday stressing the serious problems stemming from the passport restrictions. Read more.
Bangladesh: Stop attacks on student protesters, critics
Human Rights Watch, 08/06
Instead of prosecuting those responsible for unlawfully attacking student protesters demanding road safety, Bangladesh authorities are arresting students and targeting activists and journalists who are highlighting the abuses, Human Rights Watch said today. Authorities should order an immediate investigation into reports that renowned photographer and activist, Shahidul Alam, was beaten while in custody. Alam was detained on August 5, 2018, for criticizing the government and its supporters for targeting students. Read more.
Saudi Arabia freezes Canada trade ties for urging activists’ release
Saudi Arabia has said it is freezing all new trade with Canada and expelling its ambassador over its “interference” in the kingdom’s domestic affairs. A Saudi foreign ministry statement said it considered Canada’s call last week for the release of detained civil society and women’s rights activists a violation of Saudi sovereignty. Those held include the Saudi-American human rights campaigner Samar Badawi, sister of jailed blogger Raif Badawi. Read more.
Detained Chinese professor moved to unknown location
Voice of America, 08/05
Sun Wenguang, a retired professor from the Shandong province of northeastern China, who was apparently detained by Chinese authorities during a live-telephone interview with VOA last week, has been moved from a military-run hotel where he was held to an undisclosed location, hotel personnel told Voice of America’s Mandarin Service Sunday morning. Read more.
Iran: Environmentalists face arbitrary detention
Human Rights Watch, 08/03
Iranian authorities should immediately release eight environmental activists detained for six months unless they can immediately charge them with recognizable crimes and produce evidence to justify their continued detention, Human Rights Watch said today. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) intelligence organization has arrested at least 50 environmental activists across the country since January 2018. Read more.
China Arrests Retired Professor, Critic of Human Rights Abuses, During TV Interview
Jason Lemon, Newsweek, 08/02
A retired university professor was heard to be arrested by authorities in China during a live television phone interview on Wednesday evening, just as he was criticizing the country’s human rights abuses. Wenguang Sun, who formerly taught at China’s Shandong University, was speaking on the Voice of America (VOA) Mandarin television show Issues & Opinions. As he spoke over the phone with the show’s host, he was audibly detained by the authorities. Read more.
Beyond the purge: How academics in Turkey are facing up to repression by reimagining education
Elif Ince, IFEX, 08/1
The Turkish government has recently declared an end to a two-year state of emergency, in effect since a failed coup attempt in July 2016. The period had taken a heavy toll: Over 6,000 academics were banned from public duty during the emergency rule, and more than a hundred thousand people were removed from public jobs. Read more.
Not merely free speech, but better speech needs to be protected on campus
Deborah Maclatchy, The Globe and Mail, 07/31
As president of Wilfrid Laurier University, an institution that has been at the centre of the campus free-speech conversation during the past year, I can see that universities have a greater responsibility than merely protecting free speech. We must also promote better speech in an increasingly polarized and complex world. Universities exist to create, preserve, apply and pass on knowledge. We have a responsibility to ensure our students recognize the importance of free speech in the pursuit of knowledge. Read more.
Diminishing autonomy of Hungarian science academy worries scientists
Santiago Sáez Moreno, Royal Society of Chemistry, 07/31
Efforts by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA) to maintain control over the majority of its finances have failed. With the approval of the Hungarian government’s budget on 20 July, annual funding for the academy of around HUF28 billion (£76.5 million) will be transferred to the Ministry of Innovation and Technology. The academy has a total budget of HUF40 billion, which is used to pay staff and fund research projects and institutions. Read more.
Higher education ‘turned upside-down’ by Polish reforms
Matthew Reisz, Times Higher Ed., 07/30
After triggering the biggest student protests seen in Poland since the fall of communism, controversial plans to reform higher education in the country are set to pass into law. Academics had warned, in the words of Mateusz Laszczkowski, assistant professor of political and economic anthropology at the University of Warsaw, that the draft Law on Higher Education and Science – known as Law 2.0 – reflected both “Poland’s broader authoritarian turn” and “the sweeping neoliberalisation of academia across Europe”. Read more.
Nicaraguan protesters under siege for demanding democratic reform
Judy Woodruff, PBS News Hour, 07/30
For the last three months political protests have raged across Nicaragua. They started in April after the government of President Daniel Ortega introduced changes to the nation’s pension system. The protests turned violent after a government crackdown. And more than 300 people, nearly all of them civilians, have since died in clashes on the street. Today, the White house announced it was sanctioning top Nicaraguan officials, and that the U.S. government was taking back vehicles it had donated to the Nicaraguan national police. Read more.
Ottawa unveils integrity rules to shield scientists from interference
Ivan Semeniuk, The Globe and Mail, 07/30
Releasing scientific information to the public in a timely manner, encouraging discussion around different interpretations of research results, and protecting government labs from political interference – all are bedrock principles of scientific integrity that have now been enshrined in a new set of guidelines for federal departments. Read more.
Academic freedom: justified privilege, or overreach of expertise?
John Ross, Times Higher Ed., 07/28
Does the “special role” of universities in solving intractable problems entitle institutions to “special freedoms” that trump individual rights of expression? It does, according to Adrienne Stone, a constitutional lawyer at the University of Melbourne, who argued that academic freedom was “much more instrumental” than the freedoms expected by ordinary citizens. “It’s something that universities insist upon as institutions,” she said. Read more.
‘We Shouldn’t Allow Ilham Tohti to Become a Second Liu Xiaobo’
Radio Free Asia, 07/27
For two years, Ilham hasn’t seen his wife and children. The political situation in the Uyghur region is so terrible that his wife Guzelnur decided not to go back there this year. For a long time, the Chinese government has been implementing a policy called ‘Serve Prison Sentence elsewhere’ mainly targeting the high-profile political prisoners. Because Beijing is the political capital where the embassies of all the democratic countries are located, and the main offices of the UN are also based here. As most political events take place in Beijing, most people who are interested in politics gather here as well. Petitioners from all over the country also come here, and we can say that this is where people who were persecuted in past gather as well. Read more.
Visa restrictions for Chinese students alarm academia
Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks, New York Times, 07/25
President Trump’s confrontation with China is beginning to ripple through American academic and research institutions, as a crackdown on visas for certain Chinese citizens has left the higher education community wondering how it will adapt to the administration’s effort to stop intellectual property theft and slow China’s push for technological supremacy. Read more.
Rights activists warn against student crackdown
Radio Farda, 07/24
Nearly 70 student associations have criticized the recent verdicts against students and warn that they will not allow “the totalitarian forces to target freedom and liberty again.” The country’s science minister said five students are still behind bars for attending unprecedented rallies that broke out last December and shook the establishment for more than 10 days. Read more.
What is academic freedom? Statement that alarmed professors at U. of Texas sets off debate
Lindsay Ellis, Chronicle on Higher Education, 7/24
Who gets academic freedom at the University of Texas at Austin? In a court filing on Monday, three professors at the state’s flagship argued that it depends on whom you ask — and in what context. Lawyers representing UT-Austin as part of a campus-carry lawsuit argued in January that academic freedom, if it exists, belongs to the institution and not to individual professors. In response to recent inquiries, the flagship’s president, Gregory L. Fenves, affirmed to faculty leaders that the principle of freedom remained central to the campus. Read more.
Catalan extradition case formally dropped
Clara Ponsatí, a St Andrews University professor, faced charges of rebellion over a disputed referendum in 2017. However, Spanish judges withdrew the warrant seeking her extradition on Thursday. Prof Ponsatí was told she was “free to go” after a brief hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Monday. Read more.
Not feeling safe in China
Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Ed, 07/23
An American professor who lost his post at an elite Chinese university is now leaving China, citing concerns about his personal safety. “China has reached a point where I do not feel safe being a professor and discussing even the economy, business and financial markets,” Christopher Balding wrote in a blog post about his departure from Peking University HSBC Business School, in Shenzhen, and his subsequent decision to leave China. Read more.
Hong Kong academics warn of ‘political battleground’ at universities as Beijing increases its influence in the territory
AFP-JIJI, Japan Times, 07/24
Pro-democracy Hong Kong academics say they have been sidelined from city universities for their political views as fears grow that education is increasingly under pressure from Beijing. Although semi-autonomous Hong Kong enjoys rights unseen on the mainland, including freedom of expression, there are growing concerns those liberties are being squeezed as China’s tolerance for dissent diminishes. Read more.
Crackdown feared as Russian grad school faces govt penalty
Maria Danilova, ABC News, 07/22
One of Russia’s best-known graduate schools, created to avoid a brain drain among top academics in the newly open Russia of the 1990s, has lost its state accreditation, amid fears of a wider clampdown on educational institutions with strong Western connections. Russian government auditors last month revoked the accreditation of the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, the second case in a year that a private school which partners with a European university has been downgraded. Read more.
Free thought under siege in Turkey: The crackdown on education
Stockholm Center for Freedom, 07/22
The crackdown on critical thinking in Turkey with an unprecedented witch hunt targeting teachers, academics and other professionals in the education sector has dealt a huge blow to free thought in Turkey. The government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has jailed some 20,000 instructors and arbitrarily fired 34,185 public school teachers and 5,719 academics including professors from state universities within the last two years alone. Read more.
Between censorship and self-censorship: Can China Studies academics avoid moral culpability?
Kevin Carrico, Hong Kong Free Press, 07/19
It has not been a very auspicious year for freedom of expression in China Studies. In August 2017, Cambridge University Press (CUP) removed over three hundred articles published in The China Quarterly from its Chinese website. The articles had been chosen for censorship by very haphazard searches based on ‘sensitive’ keywords: Tiananmen, Cultural Revolution, Taiwan, Tibet. Read more.
Academic freedom & free speech in universities
Attacks on academic freedom have been making headlines. The suppression of academic freedom has been called a “global crisis” by some, while others complain the academy is not challenged enough by different thinking. Yet the concept of academic freedom is complicated – what does it mean, and who exactly is under attack? Read more.
Work of the Kurdish and Turkish diaspora essential to strengthen Turkey’s democratic opposition, exiled academic says
Long Dang, Index on Censorship, 07/18
Naif Bezwan cannot pinpoint a certain moment in his life in which he decided to pursue academia. For Bezwan, rather, it has been a gradual process of situating his personal narrative within the context of his Kurdish community, within Turkey and within the world. Read more.
British Academy issues warning over Hungary research funding
Jack Grove, Times Higher Education, 07/17
Hungary’s plans to change how it funds social science research would compromise academic freedom and threaten the quality of work done, the British Academy has claimed. The UK organisation is the latest leading social sciences body to voice its concerns about a proposed amendment to a law on the Hungarian Academy of Sciences that would put the newly formed Ministry for Innovation and Technology in charge of decisions over which research topics may be funded. Read more.
Rouhani facing widespread outrage as student protesters remain behind bars and receive harsh sentences
Center for Human Rights in Iran, 07/17
In a stark display of societal outrage in Iran over President Hassan Rouhani’s complicity in rights violations, 120 academics from universities across Iran, some of whom are also current or former lawmakers and cabinet members, have called on the president to order the immediate suspension of the judicial cases against more than 150 students who are still in detention for their participation in the December 2017 – January 2018 protests. Read more.
U.S. academic and critic of Beijing censorship will leave China after losing job
Elias Glenn, Reuters, 07/17
An American professor and vocal critic of Beijing’s censorship said he had lost his job at the prestigious Peking University and is leaving China. Christopher Balding, who had taught for the past nine years at Peking University’s HSBC School of Business in Shenzhen, said in a blog post (bit.ly/2uuLnuv) on Tuesday that the school had not renewed his contract. Read more.
Two student protesters killed in Nicaragua church siege
Elisabeth Malkin, New York Times, 07/14
Paramilitary forces backed by Nicaragua’s government killed two people early Saturday during a 12-hour siege on a Managua church where student protesters had sought refuge, a Catholic Church official said, in an episode that underlined the country’s escalating political unrest. Read more.
Saudi Arabia arrests prominent cleric Safar al-Hawali: activists
Saudi Arabia has detained influential religious scholar Safar al-Hawali and three of his sons, activists said on Thursday, widening an apparent crackdown against clerics, intellectuals and rights campaigners. London-based Saudi rights group ALQST said the arrests happened after Hawali published a book critical of the Saudi royal family. Read more.
Universities’ alliance to fight ‘political interference’
Mimi Leung, University World News, 07/12
More than a dozen universities in Taiwan have set up a new alliance for university autonomy to counter what they see as ‘political interference’ in universities in the wake of the ongoing saga of the appointment of a new president for National Taiwan University (NTU). Without academic freedom and institutional autonomy Taiwan would not be able to attract foreign talent, according to a former NTU president Lee Si-Chen who is leading the 14-member Taiwan Action Alliance for University Autonomy, inaugurated on 6 July. Read more.
Her husband was a Princeton graduate student. Then he was taken prisoner in Iran.
Laura Secor, New York Times, 07/10
Xiyue Wang could easily never have gone to Iran. He was a graduate student at Princeton, researching similarities across regional governments in 19th-century inner Asia. His work touched on neither the United States’ Iran policy nor any Iranian political reality less than a hundred years old. Read more.
Liu Xia, widow of Chinese dissident poet, freed from house arrest, leaves China
Danielle Paquette and Emily Rauhala, Washington Post, 07/10
After eight years of de facto house arrest, the widow of a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who died last year in Chinese custody boarded her flight to freedom. Liu Xia, a poet, was relentlessly surveilled and effectively detained after the death of her husband, writer and activist Liu Xiaobo, on July 13 of last year. But on Tuesday, she was on her way to Germany. Read more.
Divided Wisconsin Supreme Court backs Marquette faculty blogger
Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed, 07/10
Marquette University must immediately reinstate and pay damages to John McAdams, the political science professor who criticized a graduate student by name on his personal blog over how she handled a classroom discussion that turned to gay marriage. So ruled the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday, overturning a lower court’s determination that Marquette was within its rights to suspend McAdams over the incident in 2014. Read more.
Aberdeen University academic arrested in Turkey for criticising government
A Turkish lawyer who holds a PhD from Scotland’s Aberdeen University, was arrested on July 5 by police in Istanbul for speaking out against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on social media, Scottish newspaper Press and Journal reported. Hanifi Baris could be put behind bars for up to four years for speaking out against Turkey’s strongman, the site said. Read more.
Scholars decry arrest of Ph.D. student in Egypt
Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, 07/09
The Middle East Studies Association has sent a letter to Egyptian authorities protesting the detention and arrest in Cairo of Waleed Khalil el-Sayed Salem, a University of Washington Ph.D. student. The association’s letter states that Salem was conducting important research at the time on the interaction of judges and lawyers in Egypt. “Mr. Salem is a young scholar, but he has already established a reputation among those who know him for the serious and scholarly nature of his work,” the letter said. Read more.
Yangon University authorities quash July 7 poster campaign
Ei Shwe Phyu, Myanmar Times, 07/09
A poster campaign aimed at commemorating the violent suppression of a student movement by the military at Yangon University on July 7, 1962, has been prohibited by university authorities. The attempt to stage the campaign was made last Friday at the Physics Department of the university, where students tried to hang posters reading “Don’t Forget 7.7.62”, organised by the Yangon University Students’ Union (YUSU). Read more.
The campaign for prisoners of conscience: A call to action
Randy Hultgren and James McGovern, The Hill, 07/06
Every day, millions of Americans enjoy freedoms that are under attack in countries around the world. As we see more journalists and activists imprisoned and tortured, religious minorities persecuted and political dissidents suppressed every year, now is the moment for the United States to stand up for these human rights and democratic principles when they are threatened abroad. Read more.
Thailand: Authorities must drop absurd charges over peaceful university protest
Amnesty International, 07/05
Responding to news that two academics and two students from Chiang Mai University were charged on Wednesday, along with a writer, with ‘holding an unlawful political gathering’ after they were photographed at a private academic conference with a banner protesting military surveillance of the event, Katherine Gerson, Amnesty International’s Thailand campaigner said: “These absurd charges would be laughable were it not for the potentially grave consequences for those involved, and what they say about the parlous state of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in Thailand.” Read more.
Hungarian academy to draw up alternative research budget
Ellie Bothwell, Times Higher Education, 07/03
The Hungarian Academy of Sciences is set to put forward an “alternative proposal” for the country’s research budget, after the government moved to put the Ministry of Innovation and Technology in charge of financing research institutions, seen as the latest attack on sector autonomy by the authoritarian Orbán administration. Read more.
12 hurt as ‘BCL men’ assault quota reformists again
The Daily Star, 07/02
At least 12 students demanding civil service quota reforms were injured as attack on quota reformists allegedly by Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) members continued for the third consecutive day today. The BCL men also forcibly picked up two leaders of Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Adhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad, from the campus of Dhaka and Jahangirnagar universities, claimed witnesses. Read more.
How lecturers are pushing back against counter-terrorism creep into universities
Imran Awan, The Conversation, 07/02
It’s approaching three years since a counter-terrorism duty came into effect in universities. It placed a legal duty on people in the public sector – including teachers, lecturers, doctors and nurses – to report people who may be deemed to be vulnerable to radicalisation. Read more.
China tightens party control of foreign university ventures
Emily Feng, Financial Times, 07/01
The University of Nottingham Ningbo China, the first joint venture university in China, has removed a foreign academic from its management board for being critical of Communist party-backed initiatives. The management shuffle marks a setback for joint venture universities — legally independent institutions 49 per cent held by a foreign university — which for years have operated in tenuous conditions as China’s Communist party seeks to exert more influence on educational institutions. Read more.
Woman rights defender Hatoon Al-Fassi arrested the week after driving ban lifted
Gulf Centre for Human Rights, IFEX, 06/30
Saudi Arabia continues to flout international calls to free women’s rights defenders arrested in a crackdown on critics since that began in May 2018, as news emerges of another woman human rights defender’s arrest. According to reports on 27 June 2018, Hatoon Al-Fassi, a writer, scholar and leading women’s rights defender, was arrested this week. Read more.
ANU stood up for academic freedom in rejecting Western Civilisation degree
Gareth Evans and Brian Schmidt, The Conversation, 06/30
The Australian National University’s decision to withdraw from negotiations with the Ramsay Centre over its proposed very generous gift in support of a new Western Civilisation degree program continues to generate strident criticism from certain quarters, enthusiastically endorsed by the The Australian newspaper in particular. Read more.
Students claim stake in upcoming national elections
Tonderayi Mukeredzi, University World News, 06/29
Higher and tertiary education students in Zimbabwe have a real opportunity to make their mark in the 2018 harmonised elections on 30 July which pundits say will be heavily influenced by the youth vote. Two of the country’s leading student unions have since late last year been encouraging students to register to vote – and campaigning for leaders of their choice – in readiness for the general elections which will elect a president and members of both houses of parliament. Read more.
Wife of U.S. hostage held by Iran comes to D.C. to ask Congress, administration for help
Bridget Johnson, PJ Media, 06/28
The wife of an American hostage held by Iran for nearly two years was in Washington this week to plead her husband’s case to lawmakers and administration officials. Xiyue Wang is a fourth-year doctoral candidate in late 19th and early 20th century Eurasian history at Princeton University. He was arrested in Iran while conducting academic research on the administrative and cultural history of the late Qajar dynasty in connection with his Ph.D. dissertation. Read more.
Malaysia: Amend law to protect university students’ rights to expression, peaceful assembly, and association
Fortify Rights, 06/28
Malaysian authorities and public universities worked in concert for nearly five decades to restrict the fundamental rights of university students, Fortify Rights said today in a new report. The former ruling government enacted and enforced laws and rules to prevent students from engaging on political issues. Read more.
Hong Kong: Freedoms rapidly deteriorating
Human Rights Watch, 06/27
Hong Kong’s protection of civil and political rights is deteriorating at a quickening pace, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam. July 1, 2018, is the 21st anniversary of Hong Kong’s transfer from British to Chinese control. “The Chinese government has kept chipping away at Hong Kong’s freedoms, and has stepped up these efforts in recent years,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch. Read more.
Widow hospitalized after IRGC storms home of Iranian Canadian who died in Iranian state custody
Center for Human Rights in Iran, 06/27
The widow of an Iranian Canadian environmentalist who recently died in state custody in Iran has been hospitalized in Tehran after being interrogated for hours by agents who raided her home on June 25, 2018.Unidentified security agents stormed the home of Kavous Seyed-Emami and his grieving widow Maryam Mombeini, who was denied access to a lawyer while she was being interrogated. Read more.
Chula students banned from reading ‘Time’ article aloud
Asaree Thaitrakulpanich, Khaosod English, 06/27
Student activists said Wednesday they were forced to cancel an event where they planned to read aloud a translated Time magazine article about Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha after his deputy denied reading it because he doesn’t know English. Tanawat Wongchai, a Chulalongkorn University student and vocal junta critic, said Wednesday he was pressured by school administrators into canceling an event at which he and his friends would translate the cover article of the July issue of Time’s Asia edition. Read more.
Campus lawyers’ deepest fear: The protest or tweet that spins into a free-speech crisis
Sarah Brown, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 06/25
Every college — public or private, large or small, residential four-year or not — is one tweet, email, or protest away from a First Amendment tussle. That’s the message many higher-education lawyers are sharing with their colleagues here at the annual meeting of the National Association of College and University Attorneys. Read more.
How social-media trolls turned UC Berkeley into a free-speech circus
Andrew Marantz, The New Yorker, 06/25
One afternoon last fall, I sat in the Free Speech Movement Café, on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, drinking a fair-trade, shade-grown coffee. Students at nearby tables chatted in Spanish, Japanese, Russian, and English; next to me, a student alternated between reading a battered copy of “The Myth of Sisyphus,” by Camus, and checking Facebook on her phone. “This café,” a placard read, “is an educational reminder for the community that the campus freedoms we take for granted did not always exist, and, in the democratic tradition, had to be fought for.” Read more.
Yemen’s Houthi militia moves detained Sanaa University professors to prison Islam Seif, Al Arabiya, 06/25
Yemen’s Houthi militia has taken a number of professors at the University of Sanaa, who were detained for several days, to a prison without any charges, after rejecting appeals to release them, according to sources from the families of the kidnapped professors. The Houthis kidnapped six professors at the Naqil Yaslah checkpoint outside Sanaa when they were heading to Aden to receive their salaries that the militia had looted two years ago from the government. Read more.
Iranian students protest against harsh verdicts
Radio Farda, 06/24
Students at several universities in Iranian capital Tehran have been protesting harsh verdicts against their fellow students in recent days. On Saturday, June 23, a group of students gathered at Tabatabaei University in Tehran and demanded the release of their imprisoned colleagues. The protests started on Monday, June 11, when several students from the school of social sciences of Tehran University refrained from attending their exams as a sign of protest. Read more.
New scrutiny of donor influence in Australian higher ed
John Ross, Times Higher Education, 06/21
Most university donors expect to have some influence on how their gift is spent — but when does this cross the line into interference with academic autonomy? And are there some topics that are so controversial that they are in effect off-limits for philanthropic support? Read more.
Why Turkish students are turning to speculative fiction
The Economist, 06/20
In cafes outside Istanbul University, students pore over a glossy leaflet. It is not one of the many political pamphlets being distributed ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24th; inside are not campaign promises, but stories of fantasy fiction set in supernatural or imaginary worlds. Read more.
US universities battle ‘exploitation’ by extremist speakers
John Morgan, Times Higher Education, 06/20
The alligators in Lake Alice, on the University of Florida’s huge campus, stayed hidden beneath the water’s surface on a hot June day. Footage from a couple of years back of an alligator interrupting a lakeside student picnic to snatch a sandwich shows that it is wise to heed the warning signs and “stay away from the water”. As a storm ashed by in the distance, the most alarming presences on the university’s campus in Gainesville were the legions of persistent mosquitoes. Read more.
Students skip tests in protest of arrests
Radio Farda, 06/19
Dozens of students at Tehran University have abstained from attending semester tests, protesting the detention of their peers during the widespread anti-establishment uprising late last December and in early January. Scores of students were arrested in the unprecedented protests that broke out in the Shi’ite holy city of Mashhad and soon spread to more than 100 other cities across Iran. Read more.
Snowflakes and free speech on campuses
Shawna Shapiro, Inside Higher Ed, 06/18
Over the past few years, we have seen a growing concern in public discourse about free speech on college campuses in the United States. The familiar narrative labels college-aged students “snowflakes” who don’t like discomfort and therefore expect colleges to be intellectual “safe spaces” in which their ideological bubbles are left intact. Read more.
Reality check: The numbers behind the crackdown in Turkey
Chris Morris, BBC, 06/18
Almost two years after a failed military coup in Turkey, the country remains under a state of emergency. What has happened during the crackdown? Read more.
Turkish academic jailed for 15 months after signing peace petition
Jack Grove, Times Higher Education, 06/15
A Turkish academic has been jailed for 15 months for signing a petition that criticised military action against Kurdish rebels. Büşra Ersanli was one of more than 2,000 academics who signed the “Academics for Peace” petition in January 2016, which condemned the Turkish government for its violation of human rights and civilian casualties among the predominantly Kurdish population of eastern Turkey during military operations there at the time. Read more.
UW student imprisoned in Egypt: A reminder that study abroad can be both dangerous and rewarding
Evan Bush, The Seattle Times, 06/14
When University of Washington doctoral student Walid Salem traveled home to study, he left the comfortable halls of an American university for a complicated scene in Cairo. Twice this decade, the government has been overthrown, first in a popular uprising, and later in a military coup. President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the former head of the military who took control in 2014, has since made it clear he won’t tolerate dissent. Read more.
University student activists sentenced to prison after being arrested by President Rouhani’s intelligence ministry
Center for Human Rights in Iran, 06/14
University of Tehran student activists Sina Darvish Omran and Ali Mozaffari were each sentenced to eight years in prison on June 11, 2018, by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran for allegedly joining protests in Tehran earlier in the year. “The judge issued the maximum sentence of eight years in prison but when the sentences are combined, only the five-year sentence for ‘assembly and collusion against national security’ will be applied,” a student activist told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on June 12, 2018. Read more.
Backlash and boycott over exclusionary conference
Marjorie Valbrun, Insider Higher Ed, 06/14
An academic conference for scholars on Asia scheduled to be held in India next month has turned into a vocal and growing imbroglio over academic freedom after the Indian government banned the attendance of Pakistanis and people of Pakistani descent. Read more.
SAR spotlight on Dr. Olga Hünler
Scholars at Risk, 06/13
Dr. Hünler discusses her work on the massive open online course (MOOC) “Dangerous Questions: Why Academic Freedom Matters,” her personal experience with threats to academic freedom, and what she hopes learners will gain from the course. Read more.
DW Freedom of Speech Award winner Zibakalam: Hope for ‘democracy in Iran’
Carla Bleiker, Deutsche Welle, 06/12
Deutsche Welle’s 2018 Freedom of Speech Award has been presented to Iranian political scientist Sadegh Zibakalam. He faces a jail sentence for speaking out against the political situation in his home country. Read more.
Jailed Turkish academic’s lawyers start petitioning campaign
The lawyers representing Mehmet Altan, a Turkish economics professor and newspaper columnist who stands accused of links to a July 2016 failed coup in the country, have begun to write a petition to the court of appeals against his jailing every day until his release, campaigning media group P24 said. Read more.
Speaking up, reaching out
Colleen Walsh, The Harvard Gazette, 06/11
Six years ago, Zelalem Kibret’s activism prompted him to visit prison; less than two years later, it landed him inside. A lawyer and then-professor of law at Ambo University in Ethiopia, Zelalem first visited a jailed politician in the infamous Kaliti Prison in 2012, hoping to raise awareness about people arrested for challenging the status quo. In 2014, Zelalem himself was behind bars for speaking up. Read more.
How Chinese students exercise free speech abroad
Fran Martin, The Economist, 06/11
Since early 2017 media, government, academic and intelligence spokespeople in Australia have worked up a rising tide of conjecture about China’s clandestine political influence, coinciding with an increasingly adversarial stance toward Beijing by the Australian government. In these debates on the “China threat,” ordinary Chinese students in Australian universities have become unfortunate scapegoats for national political anxieties. They have been accused of being spies for the Chinese Communist Party, of shutting down freedom of speech on campuses, and of acting as remote-controlled pawns of the Chinese government. Read more.
Students’ trial a focal point in criticism of Turkish crackdown
Dorian Jones, Voice of America, 06/06
In an Istanbul courthouse, 22 students from one of Turkey’s elite universities went on trial Wednesday on terrorism charges. The case has become a focal point in growing criticism of an ongoing legal crackdown under emergency rule. Read more.
Our concerns about the arrest of Abbas Edalat in Iran
The Guardian, 06/06
129 experts in computer science, mathematics and machine learning call for the release of their colleague, the Imperial College London professor who was arrested in April in Tehran. Read more.
Colleges grapple with where — or whether — to draw the line on free speech
Alina Tugend, New York Times, 06/05
It has happened across the country, at small private colleges and large public universities: an invited guest is heckled or shouted down or disinvited because of opposing political views. And the incident is followed by a competing chorus of accusations about the rights of free speech versus the need to feel safe and welcome. It’s something those in higher education have grappled with for decades. Read more.
Prof. Dr. Büşra Ersanlı sentenced to 1 Year, 3 Months in prison without deferment
Beyza Kural, Bianet, 06/05
Prof. Dr. Büşra Ersanlı, who has been tried for having signed the declaration “We will not be a party to this crime”, has been sentenced to 1 year and 3 months in prison. The prison sentence of Ersanlı has not been deferred. Read more.
Michael Ignatieff fights for Central European University’s future amid far-right’s rise
Dan Nolan, The Globe and Mail, 06/04
Even amid the grandeur of Budapest’s Parliament District, the gleaming Central European University building stands out with sleek lines and glass walls designed to reflect the university’s values of transparency and openness. But the liberal CEU faces an uncertain future in Budapest after a 15-month standoff with Hungary’s hard-right government, which increasingly points to the university’s forced exit. Read more.
Taiwan recalls Tiananmen Square, speaks up for Chinese dissidents
Shih Hsiu-chuan, Focus Taiwan, 06/04
Local and international activists commemorated the 29th anniversary of the pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square in 1989 with a rally in Taipei to voice support for human rights and champions of democracy being persecuted by China. Read more.
My turn: Donald J. Farish: students fight to free prisoners
Donald J. Farish, Providence Journal, 06/02
By now, many millennials and members of Generation Z are accustomed to being labeled as lazy, entitled, self-absorbed. But as we conclude another graduation season here in Rhode Island, I’m reminded that those generalizations overlook the idealism and drive, the passion and compassion of the young graduates I see crossing the stage to get diplomas. Case in point: Roger Williams University students are taking on the hard and thankless task of challenging totalitarian governments by advocating for scholars who have been thrown in prison or otherwise silenced for daring to speak their minds. Read more.
Oxford PhD student denied legal counsel 40 days after being arrested in Iran
Center for Human Rights in Iran, 06/01
Reformist political activist Mohammadreza Jalaeipour, an Oxford University PhD student, has been held without charge and access to a lawyer for more than a month since being arrested in Tehran by the Intelligence Organization of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Read more.
UW political-science student detained in Egypt, accused of terrorism tie
Evan Bush, Seattle Times, 05/31
A University of Washington doctoral student conducting research in Egypt has been detained on suspicion of “spreading false news” and “belonging to a terrorist group,” among other infractions, according to lawyers representing him. Read more.
Nigerian University remains open, defying Boko Haram
Chika Oduah, Voice of America, 05/30
Thousands of students continue to attend the University of Maiduguri in northeastern Nigeria despite at least a dozen attacks by the Boko Haram insurgency since the start of 2017. Read more.
Nicaragua using ‘shoot to kill’ strategy on protesters, Amnesty International says
Natalie Gallón, CNN, 05/29
Nicaragua has instituted a “shoot to kill” policy in dealing with protests that has resulted in an “alarming number of deaths,” according to an investigation by Amnesty International. Read more.
Sometimes more speech isn’t the solution to offensive speech
Suzanne Nossel, Washington Post, 05/29
Ninety years ago, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis proclaimed that the best solution to offensive speech was “more speech, not enforced silence.” This philosophy undergirds the First Amendment: We constrain our government from curtailing speech by relying on the marketplace of ideas to do so instead. Read more.
Amnesty International documents armed attack on students in Nicaragua
Amnesty International, 05/28
Students from the National University of Engineering who were defending their campus in Managua, Nicaragua, were attacked with firearms today, confirmed Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, in a live broadcast from her Facebook account. Read more.
The criminalization of knowledge
Judith Butler, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 05/27
So many scholars find themselves subject to censorship, imprisonment, and exile. They have lost their positions and worry whether they will ever again be able to carry on their research and their teaching. They have been deprived of their academic position because of their politics, or sometimes on the basis of conjectured or attributed viewpoints and affiliations they do not have. Read more.
Turkish court sentences 16 İTÜ academics to 3-7 years in prison over alleged Gülen links
Stockholm Center for Freedom, 05/26
A Turkish court sentenced 16 academics from the prestigious İstanbul Technical University (İTÜ) to varying prison terms on Friday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. Read more.
Dangerous questions: Why academic freedom matters
University World News, 05/26
Scholars at Risk, the New-York based international network of institutions for protecting scholars and promoting academic freedom, and the University of Oslo, Norway, have jointly developed a free online course on how to use academic freedom to ask critical questions and contribute to a democratic society. Read more.
An Iranian researcher went home to serve his country. Now, ‘I realize that I’m lucky I’m not in prison.’
Richard Stone, Science Magazine, 05/24
When Kaveh Madani returned to Iran last September to serve as his country’s deputy vice president for the environment, political hardliners didn’t exactly lay out a welcome mat. Upon his arrival in Tehran, the water management expert was detained and interrogated, and several years’ worth of his photos and emails were confiscated. Read more.
A limit on paying for controversial speakers
Jeremy Bauer-Wolf, Inside Higher Ed, 05/24
The University of California, Los Angeles, will cover only $100,000 in total security costs each academic year for speakers who are not invited by a student group, a spending cap on certain events that appears to be the first of its kind among high-profile colleges and universities. Read more.
Who are the dual nationals imprisoned in Iran?
Center for Human Rights in Iran, 05/24
At least 14 dual and foreign nationals, as well as foreign permanent residents, are currently imprisoned in Iran. According to research by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), the arrests are followed by a pattern of prolonged solitary confinement and interrogations; lack of due process; denial of consular access or visits by the UN or humanitarian organizations; secretive trials in which the detainee is given limited access to counsel; and long prison sentences based on vague or unspecified “national security” and “espionage” charges. Iran says it doesn’t recognize dual nationality. Read more.
Saudi Arabia: Growing crackdown on women’s rights activists
Human Rights Watch, 05/23
Saudi authorities have accused seven recently detained women’s rights activists and others associated with the women’s rights movement of serious crimes, Human Rights Watch said today. A statement issued by the Presidency of the State Security cited possible charges for “suspicious contact with foreign parties” and undermining the “security and stability” of the state that appear to be directly based on their activism. Read more.
Egypt military court sentences Sinai journalist to 10 years
Middle East Eye, 05/23
An Egyptian military court has sentenced Ismail Alexandrani, a prominent journalist and expert on militant movements in the Sinai peninsula, to 10 years in prison, his lawyer and a military judicial official said. Read more.
Turkish academics jailed for almost nine years over ‘terrorism’
Jack Grove, Times Higher Education, 05/23
Dozens of staff at a Turkish university have been given jail sentences of up to almost nine years over their alleged membership of a banned political group. Read more.
Anniversary of Thai coup draws uneasy protest and police threats
Hannah Beech, New York Times, 05/22
Amid monsoon downpours, pro-democracy demonstrators sang and danced at a police barricade in Bangkok on Tuesday, marking the fourth anniversary of an army coup that again plunged Thailand into military rule. Read more.
Chinese lecturer fired for raising presidential term-limit in class
Radio Free Asia, 05/21
Authorities at a university in the central Chinese province of Hubei have fired a university lecturer after her students reported her for making ideologically “incorrect” comments in class, RFA has learned. Read more.
Young father imprisoned in Iran: An American dream turned nightmare
Stephanie Sy, Yahoo, 05/18
The last memory Hua Qu (pronounced “chu”) has of her family together was during a trip to see the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C. Under a canopy of pink petals, her husband, Xiyue (pronounced “she-yeh”), grabbed their toddler son, spinning him around in a dizzying twirl that lifted Shao Fan’s little feet right off the ground. The boy giggled as his mom captured a video of the happy moment on her iPhone. It was a short and sweet family excursion in the spring of 2016, before Xiyue Wang planned to leave his young family for Iran. Read more.
Philippe Sands: Behind bars with Turkey’s imprisoned writers
Philippe Sands, Financial Times, 05/16
Istanbul has long been special to me, the place where I fell in love 30 years ago with the woman I would marry, drinking mint tea at a small café by the Ortakoy Mosque in the shadow of the Bosphorus Bridge. Now I’m back — to visit a renowned Turkish journalist and old friend in prison. Read more.
Academic freedom faces ‘grave threat’ from parliament
Yojana Sharma, University World News, 05/15
Academics are normally happy to provide expert opinion and testimony to parliamentary hearings in democratic countries, but the way one expert witness invited to a Singaporean parliamentary committee hearing on ‘fake news’ was treated has caused consternation around the world. Read more.
Liberal Hungarian university warns Viktor Orbán could force it abroad
Shaun Walker, Guardian, 05/15
Central European University is prepared to move its base of operations out of Hungary if the government of Viktor Orbán does not sign a deal to legalise its status soon, its rector has said. Read more.
Turkey: Government targeting academics
Human Rights Watch, 05/14
The Turkish government’s dismissal of thousands of academics and the prosecution of hundreds more, together with interference with academics’ work and student protests, is leading to self-censorship and hollowing out academic freedom in the country, Human Rights Watch said today. Read more.
Attacks on schools and universities are on the rise
Brendan O’Malley, University World News, 05/12
Deliberate and indiscriminate attacks on schools and universities, their students, and staff have become more widespread over the past five years, the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) said in the 2018 edition of its flagship report, released on 10 May. Read more.
Turkish court sentences 64 academics, university staff to prison over Gülen links
Stockholm Center for Freedom, 05/12
A Turkish court has sentenced 64 academics and former staff members of the Denizli-based Pamukkale University to between 18 months and nine years in prison. Read more.
Physicists decry call for US visa restrictions on Chinese researchers
Peter Gwynne, Physics World, 05/11
Physicists are voicing concerns over academic freedom and the value of international collaboration after the Trump administration revealed that it is considering restricting Chinese scientists’ ability to carry out research in US universities and institutes. The move – which could directly affect 300 000 researchers – is apparently motivated by fears that Chinese researchers may be involved in espionage activities and secretly transferring sensitive discoveries to the Chinese government. Read more.
1 more student from Boğaziçi University arrested
Elif Ünal, Bianet, 05/11
Another student from department of sociology at Boğaziçi University has been arrested and sent to Silivri Prison, increasing the number of arrested students to 14. Read more.
Hungarian scientists are on edge as country is poised to force out top university
Kata Karáth, Science Magazine, 05/10
In early April, several days after Viktor Orbán secured his third consecutive term—and fourth overall—as Hungarian prime minister with a landslide victory for his conservative party, the pro-government paper Figyelő; published a list of more than 200 people it called “mercenaries” of George Soros, the American-Hungarian billionaire philanthropist. Read more.
Attacks on education worsening globally, education under attack 2018 shows
Deliberate and indiscriminate attacks on schools and universities, their students, and staff have become more widespread over the last five years, the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) said in the 2018 edition of its flagship report. Read more.
Academics strike over freedom of speech
Geoff Maslen, University World News, 05/10
The University of Melbourne faced a strike by members of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) on Wednesday over claims the university intended to remove current academic and intellectual freedom protections. Read more.
Jailed Bahraini human rights defender denied medical treatment
AhlulBayt News Agency, 05/10
The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) reported on Wednesday that jailed Bahraini human rights defender Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace is being denied medical treatment. Read more.
In China, alleged attempt to intimidate a student activist
Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Ed, 05/07
A Peking University student who filed a request for records related to an alleged rape of a student by a professor 20 years ago said university officials tried to intimidate her after she submitted the request, National Public Radio reported. The student, Yue Xin, said that university authorities told her she was being manipulated by hostile foreign forces and that she could be prosecuted for treason or separatism for requesting the information. Read more.
Family fears for health of scholar sentenced to death
Sofia Karlsson and Denis Aslan, University World News, 05/04
Fear rises for the health of scholar Ahmadreza Djalali – imprisoned and sentenced to death in Iran. Read more.
4 students shot to death at Kent State protest, May 4, 1970
Andrew Glass, Politico, 05/04
On this day in 1970, Ohio National Guardsmen killed four students and wounded nine others, one of whom was left paralyzed. The 13-second burst of gunfire started about 20 minutes after the guardsmen broke up a rally on the commons of Kent State University with tear gas, which they lobbed at a crowd of about 1,000 students. Read more.
UK universities and students back clearer guidance on free speech
Chris Havergal, Times Higher Education, 05/03
University and student leaders have welcomed the UK government’s plan to simplify the guidance on free speech on campuses. Read more.
Turkey’s university faculties unite against being divided
Fehim Tastekin, Al-Monitor, 04/30
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Istanbul and Ankara last week, demonstrating against the government’s proposal to split off faculties from many of Turkey’s universities to form “new” schools. Read more.
White House considers restricting Chinese researchers over espionage fears
Ana Swanson and Keith Bradsher, New York Times, 04/30
The administration, fearing Chinese technological dominance, is considering tighter restrictions on Chinese researchers in the United States as a trade fight escalates. Read more.
Academics for Peace granted 2018 Courage to Think Defender Award
2018 Courage to Think Defender Award has been granted to Academics for Peace due to their extraordinary efforts to form solidarity at universities and encourage academic freedom, freedom of questioning and peaceful exchange of ideas. Read more.
Europe ‘should codify’ university autonomy to ward off threats
Simon Baker, Times Higher Education, 04/27
The crisis involving Hungary’s Central European University has highlighted the need for university autonomy and academic freedom to be better protected at a European level, a conference has heard. Read more.
Professor Ahmadreza Djalali still needs our help
VUB Today, 04/25
Ahmadreza Djalali, the Iranian guest lecturer at the VUB who was sentenced to death, writes a letter to everyone who has supported him in the past months. Professor Djalali is struggling with his health due to refused medical care. Read more.
Southeast Asia’s troubling new fight against ‘fake news’
Oren Samet, World Politics Review, 04/25
On April 3, Malaysia became the first country in the world to approve specific legislation criminalizing the dissemination of “fake news.” Read more.
Iran detains another Iranian British citizen, computer scientist and antiwar activist Abbas Edalat
Center for Human Rights in Iran, 04/25
Abbas Edalat, an Iranian British academic and antiwar activist based in London, has been detained in Iran since April 15, 2018, after being arrested by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Read more.
What’s the ‘dirty secret’ of Western academics who self-censor work on China?
Phila Siu, South China Morning Post, 04/21
Critics say academics are increasingly censoring themselves to avoid criticising Beijing out of a fear they could lose access to the country. While Beijing’s hand in this process is not always overt, its critics say this is just one way in which China suppresses criticism and exerts its influence abroad. Read more.
By hosting dialogues on religion and tolerance, these students are using free speech the right way
Brian Miller, Forbes, 04/19
By having difficult conversations about religion and tolerance, students across the country are using free speech to unite rather than divide. Read more.
Top scientist leaves Iran after crackdown on environmentalists
Saeed Kamali Dehghan, The Guardian, 04/18
A top Iranian environmental scientist wooed by Hassan Rouhani’s administration to return home from the UK has left Iran amid a crackdown on environmentalists and pressure from hardliners. Read more.
Turkey’s anti-war protesters detained: ‘Everything is a crime’
Selin Girit, BBC, 04/18
Families of students detained in Turkey for protesting against military action in Afrin say they are being wrongly targeted. Read more.
Somaliland poet jailed for three years in crackdown on writers
Jason Burke, The Guardian, 04/18
A poet has been sentenced to three years in prison in Somaliland as part of a wide-ranging crackdown against activists and writers. Read more.
Turkish court sentences Islamic scholar to 6 years and 3 months in prison over alleged ‘PKK propaganda’
Stockholm Center for Freedom, 04/17
A Turkish court ruled on Tuesday to sentence Turkish writer and anti-capitalist Islamic scholar İhsan Eliaçık to 6 years and 3 months in prison and barred him from both international travel and any travel out of İstanbul. Read more.
Hungary: EUA denounces attacks on academic freedom
The European University Association (EUA) strongly condemns the recent intimidation of academics in the Hungarian media. The pro-government magazine Figyelo listed the names of more than 200 people, calling them “mercenaries” of George Soros, a Hungarian-American entrepreneur and philanthropist who founded EUA member Central European University (CEU). Read more.
Ethiopia frees blogger and Oromia official detained under martial law
Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban, Africanews, 04/16
Ethiopian media outlets, activists and rights groups have reported that the government has released two high-profile persons detained under state of emergency rules. Read more.
Why is the US targeting China’s Confucius Institute?
Wesley Rahn, Deutsche Welle, 04/16
As China seeks to strengthen its foreign policy clout, the state-sponsored cultural institution, Confucius Institute, has been labeled a “subversive” mechanism for increasing China’s public influence abroad. Read more.
Silenced universities cannot produce science: CHP leader
Hürriyet Daily News, 04/16
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has blasted the state of Turkey’s education system, stating that the dismissals of academics harm the scientific production. Read more.
SAR spotlight on Whitman College
Scholars at Risk, 04/12
Universities play a vital role implementing Scholars at Risk’s mission to defend scholars and promote academic freedom. By arranging temporary academics positions, colleges and universities provide a safe haven for scholars facing persecution or conflict in their home countries, enabling them to continue their academic work. The scholars not only enrich their host institutions through their lectures and research, but also by bringing their unique perspectives and experiences to the campus community. Read more.
United Arab Emirates: Ahmed Mansoor taken to court after a year in arbitrary detention; while Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith denied visits
Gulf Center for Human Rights, 04/12
Prominent human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor has been brought to trial in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), after more than a year in detention without charge. Mansoor, who was arrested on 20 March 2017, has been languishing in an unknown place of detention. Read more.
Hong Kong law lecturer ‘threat to national sovereignty’: Beijing
Radio Free Asia, 04/11
China stepped up public criticism of an outspoken Hong Kong law lecturer on Wednesday, saying his hypothetical comments on possible independence for the city represented a threat to its sovereignty, and accusing him of making common cause with supporters of independence in Taiwan. Read more.
War abroad, repression at home: Turkey’s academics and students caught up in new wave of arrests
Index on Censorship, 04/10
Since Turkey launched a military operation in Afrin, northern Syria, in January, state repression against critical voices has escalated once more. Hundreds of Turkish citizens who expressed their opposition to war, massacres and the displacement of Kurdish civilians have been arrested. Read more.
More than 130 academics sign open letter in support of historian Thum Ping Tjin, academic freedom
Wong Pei Ting, TODAY, 04/10
More than 130 academics from around the world have put their names to an open letter in support of academic freedom and historian Thum Ping Tjin as of Tuesday (April 10), four days after the document was put up. Read more.
Free speech and campus inclusion: A survey of college presidents
Lorelle Espinosa, Jennifer Crandall, and Philip Wilkinson, Higher Education Today, 04/09
ACE recently surveyed nearly 500 college and university presidents to get their take on the state of free speech and inclusion on campuses today, as a companion to the new Knight-Gallup survey on student attitudes toward the First Amendment. Read more.
Troops foil another suicide bomb attack on University of Maiduguri
The Punch, 04/09
The Nigerian Air Force says its Special Forces in conjunction with some Nigerian Army troops, successfully foiled a suicide bomb attack by Boko Haram Terrorists at the University of Maiduguri, Borno State, on Sunday night. Read more.
China’s oppression reaches beyond its borders
Lauren Hilgers, New York Times, 04/09
As the crackdown continues at home, the Chinese Communist Party has started to expand its reach, looking to enforce censorship, increase surveillance and silence dissent across borders. Their targets have included academics, exiled business elites, former judges and activists like Mr. Zhuang. Read more.
Thousands rally in Bangladesh after 100 injured in student protest
Channel NewsAsia, 04/09
Thousands of students across Bangladesh staged protests and sit-ins on Monday (Apr 9) after clashes at the country’s top university left at least 100 people injured. Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at Dhaka University students fighting what they complain are discriminatory quotas for government jobs in favour of special groups. Read more.
Let grieving wife of dead environmentalist leave Iran, son pleads
Saeed Kamali Dehghan, The Guardian, 04/09
The son of an Iranian-Canadian environmentalist who died in a Tehran prison under mysterious circumstances has called on Iran to allow his grieving mother to leave the country. Read more.
Dismay over pro-China hounding of Hong Kong scholar
Mimi Leung and Yojana Sharma, University World News, 04/06
A group of Hong Kong scholars has expressed concern over a barrage of criticism from pro-China groups against a Hong Kong law scholar, which they say is the most serious against an academic in recent years. Read more.
Students clash with Kashmir police in Srinagar
Al Jazeera, 04/05
Violent clashes have erupted between protesting students and Indian police across the city of Srinagar in Indian-administered Kashmir. Read more.
Commentary: How Poland can void its overreaching Holocaust law
Noah Feldman, Chicago Tribune, 04/04
Poland badly needs a way to get rid of its new “memory law” that makes it a crime for anyone anywhere in the world to ascribe Holocaust atrocities to the Polish state or nation. A solution may be emerging: Poland’s constitutional tribunal could strike down the law as a violation of freedom of expression under the country’s constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights. Read more.
Turkish court sentences 2 prominent academics over peace petition
Stockholm Center for Freedom, 04/04
A Turkish court sentenced two prominent Turkish academics on Wednesday to one year, three months in prison on terrorism charges for signing a 2016 peace petition calling for an end to state violence against Turkey’s Kurds. Read more.
Indonesian forces detain dozens at West Papua University
Helen Davidson, The Guardian, 04/04
Dozens of students and activists have been detained by Indonesian security forces at a West Papua university. Read more.
Professors are targets in online culture wars; some fight back
Anya Kamenetz, NPR, 04/04
Colleges are meant to be a home for free inquiry. But these days, not all professors feel that freedom. Across the country, in the past year and a half, at least 250 university professors, including Ponce, have been targeted via online campaigns because of their research, their teaching or their social media posts. Read more.
Support for detained Boğaziçi University students by 1,250 academics
1,250 academics from around the world have denounced the detention of 15 Boğaziçi University students who protested some students that opened a stand and distributed Turkish delight* in the campus to commemorate people who lost their lives during Afrin operation. Read more.
Montpellier dean detained, suspended after masked men attack students
Claire Mufson, France 24, 03/29
The dean and a professor at Montpellier University law school were taken into police custody on Wednesday, suspected of taking part in a violent attack on student protesters last week. The two men have since been suspended from their duties. Read more.
Scholars divided on curbing foreign influence on campus
Yojana Sharma, University World News, 03/29
Two different groups of dozens of Australian academics specialising in China studies have written separate open letters with opposing views but both purporting to be in support of academic freedom, as a controversial new law to restrict foreign influence is being considered by an Australian parliamentary committee. Read more.
The world’s toughest place to study?
Sean Coughlan, BBC, 03/28
In the rubble of Syria’s long war, there are all kinds of images of destruction and despair. But despite all the odds, in the depths of the siege of Eastern Ghouta, there are young people still trying to study and plan for a future. Read more.
St Andrews hits out at Spanish bid to extradite Catalan academic
Severin Carrell, The Guardian, 03/26
St Andrews University has described an attempt by Spanish judges to extradite a Catalan academic as a politically motivated attack on free speech. Read more.
Student activists are risking arrest to demand an end to Thailand’s military rule
Caleb Quinley, Vice, 03/26
Tensions continued to rise in Thailand as hundreds of pro-democracy activists took to the streets over the weekend calling for fresh elections after four years of military rule. The protests were a sign of the growing dissatisfaction with the military rule of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)—which has made an annual habit of postponing new elections only to repeat the process again one year later. Read more.
Raids on Boğaziçi University dorms following Erdoğan’s statement
Police have raided homes and dormitories in the wake of Erdoğan addressing the students, who protested those commemorating people who lost their lives in Afrin by distributing Turkish delight in Boğaziçi University, “We will find those students by footage.” Read more.
Jailed Turkish academic Laçiner: I got used to lynching, at least accusations should make sense
Stockholm Center for Freedom, 03/25
Renowned Turkish academic and political scientist Prof. Dr. Sedat Laçiner, who was arrested in the wake of a controversial military coup on July 15, 2016, has stated that “I respond to what is said about me, and I don’t run from either prosecution or debate. But the accusations must be a bit rational and fair. I got used to the lynching, but at least the accusations should make sense. Have a heart! I am also a human being.” Read more.
Israeli universities urged to bar professors from calling to boycott Israel
Yarden Zur, Haaretz, 03/25
A panel for higher education headed by Education Minister Naftali Bennett adopted a code of ethics Sunday that moves to bar academics from calling for a boycott of Israel. Read more.
Mehmet Altan lawyers demand Turkey free him after human rights court ruling
Umur Yedikardeş, Ahval, 03/21
The European Court of Human Rights said Turkey had violated the rights and freedoms of academic and commentator Mehmet Altan and journalist Şahin Alpay and ordered Ankara to pay 21,500 euros in compensation. Read more.
Reclaiming their campuses
Jeremy Bauer-Wolf, Inside Higher Ed, 03/21
Public colleges and universities that were forced to host white supremacists (who lacked any ties to the institution) are now looking at ways to restrict certain events, but to avoid doing so based on content. Read more.
Turkey: UN report details extensive human rights violations during protracted state of emergency
United Nations OHCHR, 03/20
Routine extensions of the state of emergency in Turkey have led to profound human rights violations against hundreds of thousands of people – from arbitrary deprivation of the right to work and to freedom of movement, to torture and other ill-treatment, arbitrary detentions and infringements of the rights to freedom of association and expression, according to a report issued by the UN Human Rights Office on Tuesday. Read more.
Critical engagement and endangered academic freedom in Tajikistan
Hafiz Boboyorov, openDemocracy, 03/20
The academic community has initiated a debate on the growing challenges to academic freedom in Tajikistan. Read more.
Pakistan: Resolve hundreds of cases of enforced disappearances
Amnesty International, 03/19
The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has more than 700 pending cases from Pakistan, and Pakistan’s State Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances has received reports of hundreds more, from across the country. The disappeared have included bloggers, journalists, students, peace activists and other human rights defenders whose work promotes the same values as this Council and is crucial to a free and just society. Read more.
Sons of Iranian-Canadian who died in jail: ‘We just want the truth’
Azadeh Moshiri, CNN, 03/16
Their father was jailed and died in an Iranian prison. They say their mother was barred from leaving the country. Now out of Iran, Ramin and Mehran Seyed-Emami tell CNN that they are fighting to get their mother out and learn what happened to their father in Tehran’s Evin prison. Read more.
Jeremy Bauer-Wolf, Insider Higher Ed, 03/15
Exactly one month after the Parkland, Fla., massacre, students across the country exited classrooms at 10 a.m., some quiet, some carrying signs demanding gun reform from lawmakers. The victims’ names were read aloud in places, at others chants arose: “It could have been us.” Read more.
Mexico: Ayotzinapa investigation marred by torture and cover-ups – UN report
United Nations OHCHR, 03/15
There are strong grounds to believe that some of the people detained in Mexico during the early stages of the investigation into the disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa in 2014 were arbitrarily detained and tortured, and that these serious violations were in turn inadequately investigated and even covered up, a report by the UN Human Rights Office said on Thursday. Read more.
Forbidden feeds: Government controls on social media in China
Pen America, 03/14
Based on extensive interviews with writers, poets, artists, activists, and others personally affected by the government’s grip on online expression, as well as interviews with anonymous employees at Chinese social media companies, Forbidden Feeds: Government Controls on Social Media in China lays bare the destructive impact of the Chinese government’s vision of “cyber sovereignty” on netizens who dare to dissent. Read more.
The strange limbo of a Russian university
The Economist, 03/13
The European University at St Petersburg is being threatened with destruction by the state. Students are unable to graduate, and staff are forbidden from giving lectures. It is unclear if university life will ever return to normal, and nobody is able or willing to explain why it should close down. Read more.
What college students really think about free speech
Niraj Chokshi, New York Times, 03/12
To some, free speech on college campuses appears to be under attack, but what do the students themselves think? A study released on Monday offers some answers based on a survey of more than 3,000 of them. The survey, a collaboration among five groups, finds that college students feel increasingly stifled on campus and online, and while they equally value free speech and inclusivity, they wrestle with how best to balance the two. Read more.
Palestinians injured in clashes at protest against Israeli university raid
France 24, 03/12
Ten Palestinians were injured Monday in clashes that erupted during a protest against an Israeli army raid last week on a university campus. Read more.
Singapore: Reject sweeping public order bill
Human Rights Watch, 03/12
Singapore’s proposed public order law would further empower the government to repress freedom of assembly and speech, Human Rights Watch said today. The government should revise the Public Order and Safety (Special Powers) bill, introduced in Parliament on February 27, 2018, to ensure that protection of public safety does not violate fundamental rights. Read more.
Russia 2012 – 2018: 50 anti-democracy laws entered into force within last presidential mandate
Since re-election in 2012, Russian president has overseen the creation of 50 new laws designed to strangle opposition voices and raise the level of fear and self-control in the society, according to new research by FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights). Read more.
The closing of China will affect universities worldwide
Philip G Altbach and Hans de Wit, University World News, 03/09
The news that China’s constitution will be amended so that Xi Jinping can be president beyond his current second term is only the latest indication of fundamental political change taking place. Experts have noted that President Xi has amassed the most power since Mao Zedong and seeks long-term authority to carry out his policies. While higher education, research and internationalisation are far from the centre of contemporary political developments, they will unquestionably be affected and may be ‘collateral damage’. Read more.
No end in sight for campus free speech battles
Jeremy Bauer-Wolf, Inside Higher Ed, 03/08
Many higher education professionals agree — the way to counter speech that students find repugnant (but is legally protected) is with sound policy, education and statements from administrators that both condemn offensive speech and defend the right to make it. Read more.
No deal in Hungary university stand-off
Sean Coughlan, BBC, 03/07
The stand-off over the future of a university in Hungary, which became a symbolic international power struggle, shows no sign of being resolved. Read more.
Nasser Bin Ghaith declares hunger strike against his ill-treatment in Razeen prison
International Campaign for Freedom in the United Arab Emirates, 03/06
The Emirati prominent prisoner of conscience Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith, sentenced to ten years in prison for the peaceful expression of his conscientiously held beliefs, declared on February 25 an open hunger strike in protest against his ill-treatment in Razeen prison. Read more.
Arizona State’s ban on Israel boycotters tests DOJ’s free speech commitment
Rowaida Abdelaziz and Ryan J. Reilly, Huffington Post, 03/05
A lawsuit against one of America’s largest public universities could pose a major test for the Justice Department’s commitment to campus free speech. Read more.
Environmentalists detained in crackdown denied legal counsel amid claims some were “Jewish spies”
Center for Human Rights in Iran, 03/05
Several environmentalists who were arrested by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Intelligence Organization in January 2018 continue to be denied access to legal counsel more than six weeks into their detention. Read more.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan University’s former rector sentenced to 4 years in jail
Turkey Purge, 03/05
Arif Yilmaz, a medical professor and the former rector of the Recep Tayyip Erdogan University (RTEÜ), has been sentenced to 4 years and two months in jail. Read more.
7 times in history when students turned to activism
Maggie Astor, New York Times, 03/05
The survivors of the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting have surprised many with their public activism. But they are hardly the first students to push the adult world for political change. Read more.
Bangladesh: Top secular writer Zafar Iqbal attacked at university
Deutsche Welle, 03/03
Writer Zafar Iqbal was reportedly stabbed in the head while taking part in a university event in Bangladesh. The well-known secular activist and science fiction author has faced death threats from radical Islamists. Read more.
Academic freedom in Tajikistan: Critical engagement and solidarity
John Heathershaw and Edward Schatz, openDemocracy, 03/01
If academic solidarity and forms of critical engagement with Tajikistan are going to emerge, we must first recognise the primary problem comes from the regime. Read more.
Polish law criminalizing some Holocaust speech takes effect
Vanessa Gera, AP News, 03/01
A Polish law that makes it a crime to falsely accuse the Polish nation of crimes committed by Nazi Germany took effect Thursday, part of a wider effort by nationalist authorities to use history to defend the country’s honor and pride. Read more.
‘I will never see the world again.’
Ahmet Altan, New York Times, 02/28
On Feb. 16, a Turkish court sentenced Ahmet Altan, a novelist and former newspaper editor; his brother, Mehmet Altan, an economics professor and political commentator; Nazli Ilicak, a prominent journalist; and three media employees to life imprisonment without parole for involvement in the July 15, 2016, coup attempt in Turkey. Mr. Altan wrote this essay about his imprisonment and sentencing, and about fiction and reality, in his prison cell in the city of Silivri, on the outskirts of Istanbul. Read more.
An open letter to President Erdoğan from 38 Nobel laureates
JM Coetzee, Kazuo Ishiguro, Svetlana Alexievich, et al., The Guardian, 02/28
Until Turkey frees detained writers and returns to the rule of law, it cannot claim to be a member of the free world. Read more.
Iran’s Islamic Azad University rocked by layoffs of pro-reform professors
Iran’s Islamic Azad University (IAU), which was established by moderate Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, is now in the hands of hard-liners who have decided to lay off pro-reform professors. Read more.
Chile student protest leaders send support to Florida gun campaigners
Jonathan Franklin, The Guardian, 02/28
Four leaders of 2011 movement send letter to young US activists urging them to fight idea that only adults should make the decisions. Read more.
Hawaii legislators abandon plan for faculty mandate on OER
Lindsay McKenzie, Inside Higher Ed, 02/27
Legislators rewrite bill that originally required use of freely accessible educational materials, amid criticism that legislation would have infringed academic freedom and harmed, not helped, the open-access movement. Read more.
Free to speak: Academic freedom on campus
Jeremy Horpedahl, et al., Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 02/26
Is academic freedom under attack? Troubling reports of the suppression of free expression are coming from universities across the nation. Examples include at least 29 “disinvitations” of campus speakers in 2017 alone, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
After ‘malicious’ state TV smear, family of dead Iranian detainee fights on
Golnaz Esfandiari, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 02/24
Critics have complained for years of the appearance of cooperation between Iran’s state-controlled television and its hard-line security structures, citing smears against activists and the broadcast of prisoner confessions thought to have been extracted under duress. But lawyers for the family of a devoted Canadian-Iranian ecological activist and father who died in an Iranian jail recently are going a step further. Read more.
Rights groups condemn deportation of academics and others
Tunde Fatunde, University World News, 02/23
International human rights groups have condemned the Nigerian government for deporting 47 Cameroon nationals, six of whom are university lecturers. They were deported on suspicion of being ‘terrorists’ and are now being held by security forces in Cameroon. Read more.
Iran: Spying charges against wildlife activists “hard to fathom,” say UN experts
United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, 02/23
Iran must cease what appears to be a new and worrying trend of targeting environmental defenders, UN human rights experts said following the detention of Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation (PWHF) members on spying charges. One has died in custody. Read more.
Why universities must defend free speech
Keith Whittington, Princeton Alumni Weekly, 02/23
Modern universities prefer to advertise themselves as committed to the pursuit of truth rather than to the recitation of dogma. Actually following through on that commitment often proves difficult. In order to sustain institutions of higher education that contribute to human progress, we must commit ourselves to liberal values of tolerance and freedom rather than to illiberal values of conformity and coercion. It is only by acknowledging those principles of free speech and respecting them that universities are able to realize their promise and make their best contribution to society. Read more.
European Union MPs call on Xi Jinping to release Gui Minhai
Tom Phillips, The Guardian, 02/22
Dozens of EU politicians have written to the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, demanding the immediate and unconditional release of Swedish bookseller Gui Minhai. A Communist party newspaper, meanwhile, has slammed international media scrutiny of the scandal as the work of arrogant rumour-mongers. Read more.
Can schools discipline students for protesting?
Vera Eidelman, ACLU, 02/22
Students around the country are turning last week’s heartbreaking school shooting in Parkland, Florida, into an inspiring and exemplary push for legislative change. In the last few days, many people have asked whether schools can discipline students for speaking out. The short answer? It depends on when, where, and how the students decide to express themselves. Read more.
Turkey under Erdogan: Our academic colleague is on trial for signing a petition
David Redlawsk, Masi Noor, and Stephen Reicher, USA Today, 02/22
Erdogan and his government are trying to ruin their critics. Perhaps this can happen in any democracy, as authoritarians rise and institutions fail. Read more.
Historians fear ‘censorship’ under Poland’s Holocaust law
David Matthews, Times Higher Education, 02/21
A new law in Poland that threatens those who say that Poles played any part in the Holocaust with up to three years in prison will create an atmosphere of “inner censorship” for the country’s historians, reminiscent of its communist past, critics have warned. Read more.
PM orders investigation of burglaries of China expert
Yojana Sharma, University World News, 02/20
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this week ordered security agencies to investigate break-ins at the home and university office of an academic researching China’s influence in the country. She had been warned that she could be targeted if she did not toe Beijing’s official line. Read more.
Sweden confirms citizenship for Iranian scientist facing death penalty
Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty, 02/17
The Swedish Foreign Ministry On February 17 confirmed that it has granted citizenship to a Stockholm-based scientist who is being held in Iran and faces a death sentence. Read more.
Keeping our heads down is a bad tactic in the culture war
Darren Linvill, Times Higher Education, 02/15
To our detriment, US higher education has become a trench line in the ongoing culture war. Deep partisan divisions have opened up regarding public respect for higher education, as lawmakers have moved to impose political balance on university hiring and faculty have faced harassment over their scholarship. Read more.
The Chinese student threat?
Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Ed, 02/15
FBI director Christopher Wray tells Senate panel that American academe is naïve about the intelligence risks posed by Chinese students and scholars. Some worry his testimony risks tarring a big group of students as a security threat. Read more.
Death by hanging in Tehran
Roger Cohen, New York Times, 02/14
The supposed ‘suicide’ in prison of an Iranian-Canadian university professor is an outrage that reflects heightened tensions in Iran. Read more.
Top Ethiopian dissident Bekele Gerba ‘freed from jail’
News 24, 02/14
Top Ethiopian dissident Bekele Gerba was released from jail on Tuesday, state media reported, as anti-government protests by the country’s largest ethnic group closed roads and businesses near the capital. Read more.
Majlis podcast: Academia in peril in Tajikistan
Bruce Pannier, Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty, 02/11
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in late 1991, foreign students and researchers have done some amazing work, studying and producing articles and books about Central Asia. Outsiders have been given unprecedented access to the region in the last quarter-century, but that is now changing. Read more.
For scholars of women’s studies, it’s been a dangerous year
Emma Kerr, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 02/11
Since the election, these academics, many of whom are familiar with being the targets of criticism, say they’ve experienced vandalism, online trolling, and death threats at levels they haven’t seen before. Read more.
Turkey is taking everything from academics
Masi Noor, Times Higher Education, 02/10
Many of us take for granted our freedom to express opinions and to sign petitions about various social and political issues, including those that criticise government policy. This is no longer the case for people in Turkey, including academics. The most egregious example is the punishment meted out to the 1,128 scholars, including several fellow psychologists within academia, who signed the so-called “Academics for Peace” petition in January 2016. Read more.
UN rights experts urge Iran to annul death sentence against Ahmadreza Djalali
United Nations OHCHR, 02/09
United Nations human rights experts have repeated their urgent call to Iran to annul the death sentence against Iranian academic Ahmadreza Djalali amid reports that his latest legal attempt to challenge the sentence has been rejected. Read more.
EDITORIAL: Academic freedom at risk
Jakarta Post, 02/08
For the time being, scholars and researchers across the country can sigh with relief after Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo on Tuesday announced the withdrawal of a contentious regulation that obliged researchers to report their research findings to the ministry. Read more.
Death sentence handed down for campus student lynching
Ameen Amjad Khan, University World News, 02/08
An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan has handed down a death sentence and 25-year sentences to five others for the horrific lynching last April of a student on the campus of Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan. Read more.
US academics not exempted from travel ban to Pyongyang
Yojana Sharma, University World News, 02/07
No special exemptions have been given so far for academics who are United States citizens to teach at the private Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), which has been hard hit by the US ban on travel to North Korea in the wake of the death of US student Otto Warmbier last year. Read more.
More Scrutiny for Confucius Institutes; One to Close
Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Ed, 02/06
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio wrote to four Florida colleges and universities Monday asking them to close their Confucius Institutes, centers of Chinese language and cultural education that are housed in U.S. colleges or schools and funded and staffed by a Chinese government entity. One of those colleges — the University of West Florida — said in a statement it had already decided to close its Confucius Institute. Read more.
Hong Kong activists have jail sentences overturned
Benjamin Haas, The Guardian, 02/06
Three prominent Hong Kong democracy activists have won an appeal in the territory’s highest court against jail sentences relating to the 2014 “umbrella movement” protests, but were warned that future acts of civil disobedience would be dealt with harshly. Read more.
Academic freedom in Tajikistan endangered: what is to be done?
John Heathershaw and Edward Schatz, Open Democracy, 02/05
In Tajikistan, academic freedom is severely under threat. But how should the international academic community respond? Read more.
Protests turn violent at CSU after Charlie Kirk speech
Nick Coltrain, Coloradoan, 02/04
Protests around a conservative speaker at CSU on Friday night started peaceful, even if it got rowdy at times, but quickly turned violent when a group wielding riot shields, large flashlights and face masks emblazoned with skulls stormed a dwindling crowd while chanting a Nazi slogan. Read more.
‘It’s scary’ – Gambian lecturer’s arrest sparks repression fears
Ruth Maclean and Saikou Jammeh, The Guardian, 02/02
When students from the University of the Gambia heard that their political science lecturer had been arrested, they mobilized. Read more.
Texas lawmakers weigh the limits of free speech on campus
Katherine Mangan, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 01/31
Stories from across the Lone Star State illuminate the difficulty of balancing First Amendment protections with student safety. Read more.
Parliamentarians call for release of detained students
Yojana Sharma, University World News, 01/31
With Iranian authorities still refusing to release exact figures of the number of people detained during protests in a number of Iranian cities in December and early January, Iranian lawmakers as well as academics have written to President Hassan Rouhani and the country’s head of the judiciary Sadegh Larijani calling for the immediate release of student detainees. Read more.
The schoolhouse gates
Legal Talk Network, 01/31
In this episode of Make No Law, the First Amendment Podcast by Popehat.com, host Ken White dives into the Tinker v. Des Moines case and how it has impacted freedom of speech for students on campuses today. While Mary Beth Tinker’s rights were upheld, many plaintiffs in First Amendment cases today have faced less sympathetic courts. Ken and his guests discuss the cultural and historic factors that have led to that retreat. Read more.
Turkish doctors arrested after group criticises Syria offensive
Laura Pitel, Financial Times, 01/30
Police arrested senior members of the Turkish Medical Association on Tuesday, days after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan branded the group “terrorist lovers” for calling for a halt to Ankara’s military offensive in Syria. The detentions are part of a widening crackdown against criticism of Turkey’s incursion into the Kurdish-controlled Afrin region of north-west Syria. More than 300 people have been detained for spreading “terror propaganda” on social media since the military operation began this month. Read more.
3 problematic campus cultures
Nancy Thomas, Inside Higher Ed, 01/30
Nancy Thomas describes the campus environments to eschew, as well as those to nourish, in order to encourage free expression, inclusion and learning. Read more.
Beijing attacks Hong Kong’s rule of law
Martin Lee, Wall Street Journal, 01/29
“Kill a chicken to scare the monkeys” is a well-known Chinese expression for making an example of someone. A Hong Kong court put that saying into effect Jan. 17 by handing down another three-month prison sentence to Joshua Wong, a 21-year-old democracy activist. Read more.
Teachers’ Federation condemns dismissal of student protesters from university
Zarni Mann, Irrawaddy, 01/29
The Myanmar Teachers’ Federation condemned the Ministry of Education on Sunday for the dismissal of student protesters from their respective universities and called for reconsideration. Read more.
UC Irvine chancellor: Students are not ‘snowflakes,’ but they need to understand free speech
Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times, 01/28
University of California Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman discusses free speech issues such as trigger warnings, safe spaces, and free speech zones in this Q&A. Read more.
Academic freedom is facing ‘growing threats’ – Report
Yojona Sharma, University World News, 01/26
There has been a “growing top-down backlash” in the wake of Hong Kong’s 2014-15 student-led Umbrella Movement protests, with the authorities trying to limit academic freedom and bring academia under their control, according to a new report from Hong Kong Watch. Read more.
Justice Dept. sides with conservative groups in free-speech lawsuit against Berkeley
Matt Zapotosky, Washington Post, 01/25
The Justice Department has filed a statement of interest siding with two conservative groups who have sued the University of California at Berkeley, alleging administrators created logistical and other hurdles that forced the cancellation or modification of planned events with right-leaning speakers. Read more.
Academic freedom: Can history be our guide?
Paul Axelrod, University Affairs, 01/24
Academic freedom, like freedom itself, is not absolute. There are conditions and qualifications around both the theory and exercise of this pivotal university concept. Some of these constraints pertain to particular historical circumstances and are no longer germane or legitimate. Other limitations are understandable and defensible. Read more.
The pressure on provosts
Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, 01/24
Provosts are generally confident of free speech rights at their own colleges and universities, but many are worried about the situation more broadly in higher education, according to the 2018 Inside Higher Ed Survey of College and University Chief Academic Officers, conducted by Gallup and answered by 516 provosts or chief academic officers. Read more.
Turkey’s politically motivated trials: Targeting Academics for Peace
Noemi Levy-Aksu, Index on Censorship, 01/23
Since January 2016 the Academics for Peace case has become one of the symbols of the crackdown on democracy in Turkey. No critical voices are spared in the repression: MPs, journalists, lawyers, human rights activists, students and many others are detained and/or have been prosecuted for their opinions and activities. Read more.
Jailing students was a tactic to crush broader protests
Ali Afshari, Radio Farda, 01/23
Two weeks after the unrest that swept across Iran in late December and early January there is still no reliable report on the number of university students security forces jailed during the protests. Read more.
Academic freedom at risk at Hong Kong’s universities, says report
Benjamin Haas, The Guardian, 01/22
Hong Kong’s universities, long a beacon of academic freedom, bastions of freewheeling activism and discussion, are under threat and risk losing their internationally respected status, according to a report. Read more.
Death sentence against Swedish resident Ahmadreza Djalali under review
Center for Human Rights in Iran, 01/22
Branch 33 of the Supreme Court in Iran is reviewing the death sentence issued to Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian-born academic and Swedish resident accused of “espionage” charges. The judge has asked a deputy prosecutor to give his opinion in February 2018. Read more.
A war of words on college campuses
CBS News, 01/21
In the 1960s college students demanded the right to talk about anything on campus, from civil rights to opposing the Vietnam War. All ideas seemed up for debate. But is that still true today? Read more.
Are there signs of hope for higher education in 2018?
Hans de Wit, University World News, 01/19
Last year was in many respects a tense, chaotic and disturbing year both in general and in international higher education. Increasing political tension, rather than economic factors, were responsible for the turmoil. Trends of ever-increasing academic mobility, study abroad, cross-border delivery and of rising interest in global learning and engagement were suddenly challenged, as was academic freedom. Read more.
South Kordofan: Students from Aldalang University arbitrarily arrested after Sudan Armed Forces officer shot two students to death
African Centre of Justice and Peace Studies, 01/18
Students from Aldalang University in South Kordofan have been arbitrarily arrested after joint security forces (National Intelligence and Security Services, Military Intelligence, Sudan Armed Forces and Police) raided the university following a student protest staged after an officer of the Sudan Armed Forces indiscriminately shot and killed two students on the university campus. Read more.
Thai court drops royal insult charges against academic
ABC News, 01/17
A Thai military court on Wednesday dropped royal insult charges against an 84-year old historian who questioned whether a Thai king had actually defeated a Burmese adversary in combat on elephant-back over 500 years ago. Read more.
6 tales of censorship in the golden age of free speech
In today’s networked environment, when anyone can broadcast live or post their thoughts to a social network, it would seem that censorship ought to be impossible. But while the social internet gives everyone a voice, it also has countless ways of punishing people for speaking. Read more.
Mass detention and dismissal of academics continues
Brendan O’Malley, University World News, 01/16
A further 438 members of Turkey’s higher education community have faced criminal detentions, investigations and prosecutions since July. Some 698 have been dismissed or expelled from their institutions and subjected to restrictions on their ability to travel. Read more.
How China infiltrated U.S. classrooms
Ethan Epstein, Politico, 01/16
Even as they face criticism, Chinese government-run educational institutes have continued their forward march on college campuses across the United States. Read more.
The other piece of academic freedom
Matt Reed, Inside Higher Ed, 01/16
Reed: “I don’t know the merits of the Louisiana case of the professor who was fired for cursing. But the idea of it brings up a side of academic freedom that doesn’t get much discussion, although it’s actually much more real in my world than some of the higher-profile stuff.” Read more.
How do we curb racism and anti-Semitism — and protect free speech?
Steven Lubet, Chicago Tribune, 01/14
Controversy over a Rutgers University professor’s personal Facebook posts raises questions about the protection of speech in university settings. Read more.
Belgium tries to save the life of researcher sentenced to death in Iran
Brussels Times, 01/12
Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders on Thursday told his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif that he hopes that the death sentence against Iranian-Swedish academic Ahmadreza Djalali will not be executed. Read more.
Student sues community college over free speech rights
Jeremy Bauer-Wolf, Inside Higher Ed, 01/12
An Illinois community college student has sued her institution alleging a free speech violation when campus police detained her and confiscated leaflets she was passing out that were critical of capitalism. Read more.
Police stand guard outside Florida university class on ‘white racism’
Shelby Rose, CNN, 01/11
A Florida university posted campus police outside a sociology class titled “White Racism” after the professor was flooded with harassing emails and messages — some of them openly racist. Read more.
Foreign academics confront Chinese censorship
China Digital Times, 01/11
Increasingly, official Chinese efforts to limit access to information and to guide the narrative about Chinese politics and history are causing friction as they run up against a tradition of academic freedom in the west. Read more.
Ban on book about mass incarceration lifted in New Jersey prisons after A.C.L.U. protest
Jonah Engel Bromwich and Benjamin Mueller, New York Times, 01/08
New Jersey said it had lifted the ban on a best-selling book about mass incarceration after the American Civil Liberties Union called for an immediate end to what it said was an “ironic, misguided, and harmful” instance of censorship. Read more.
Edinburgh University’s new vice-chancellor condemned in staff survey
Benjamin Haas, The Guardian, 01/08
The University of Edinburgh’s new vice-chancellor failed to uphold academic freedom and did not understand the needs of students, according to a survey of staff at his current institution. Read more.
Iran protests: University tracks fate of detained students
Laura Smith-Spark, CNN, 01/06
The University of Tehran is working to track and secure the release of its students who were arrested for taking part in recent protests in Iran. Read more.
Hardliner Viktor Orban has George Soros’s liberal university in sights
David Charter, The Times, 01/05
From the ruins of communism a university has grown up in the heart of Budapest that attracts 1,400 postgraduates from around the world. Yet the studious silence within its five-storey library belies the political firestorm threatening the existence of the Central European University (CEU). Read more.
Turkish government crackdown forces intellectuals to flee
Samantha Raphelson, NPR, 01/04
Intellectuals are leaving Turkey in large numbers amid President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown on dissent after the failed coup attempt against his government in July 2016. Read more.
Students among hundreds arrested during protests
Wagdy Sawahel and Yojana Sharma, University World News, 01/04
People across Iran, including university students, have taken to the streets in widespread economic protests initially directed against price hikes of basic food supplies and gloomy economic prospects. They later included criticism of the political establishment. Read more.
Brazilian church leaders condemn attacks on university freedom
Rachael Pells, Times Higher Education, 01/04
The leader of the Anglican high church of Brazil has spoken out against the country’s alleged abuse of police power and attacks on university freedom. Read more.
China’s ‘Long Arm’
Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Ed, 01/03
Two times in Kevin Carrico’s six years of teaching he’s been approached by students from China who told him that things they said in his classroom about sensitive subjects somehow made their way to their parents back home. Read more.
Gülmen, Özakça on 300th Day of Hunger Strike
Academic Nuriye Gülmen and teacher Semih Özakça are on the 300th day of the hunger strike they have gone on demanding that they be reinstated to their jobs. Read more.