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.
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, Chronicle on 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.