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.
Censorship in a China studies journal
Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Ed, 04/19
Yet another account of censorship involving a China studies journal has come to light. And the scholars involved say this case involves an insidious “blurring of boundaries” where they were misled into thinking Western publishing standards would apply when in fact the journal in question was subject to Chinese government censorship. Read more.
12 conservationists detained without counsel in Iran’s Kurdistan Province
Center for Human Rights in Iran, 04/18
Twelve of the 20 environmental conservationists arrested in Iran’s Kurdistan Province in January and February 2019 remain in detention centers run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Ministry of Intelligence in the city of Sanandaj, the provincial capital, without access to legal counsel. Read more.
How US-China political tensions are affecting science
Andrew Silver, Jeff Tollefson, and Elizabeth Gibney, Nature, 04/18
Research is becoming increasingly embroiled in ongoing political tensions between the United States and China. In the latest twist, several US universities are expected this month to announce the actions they have taken against foreign scientists caught breaking rules concerning National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding, according to comments made by agency director Francis Collins to the Senate Appropriations Committee last week. Read more.
Prominent Sudanese geneticist freed from prison as dictator ousted
Declan Butler, Nature, 04/17
Muntaser Ibrahim, a leading geneticist, has been freed from prison in Sudan alongside hundreds of other civilians, including academics, who were detained in recent months for protesting against the regime of now-toppled dictator Omar al-Bashir.Their release was ordered last week by the army, which ousted al-Bashir on 11 April amid a popular revolt sparked by rising bread and fuel prices that has rocked the nation since mid-December. Read more.
Saudi court postpones hearing for women activists
A Saudi court has postponed a fourth hearing in the trial of several women rights activists, a case that has intensified Western criticism of Saudi Arabia. A court official informed some of the women’s relatives that the session would not take place as expected on Wednesday, citing the judge’s “private reasons.” Read more.
Algerian students back on the streets despite police deployment
France 24, 04/16
Thousands of Algerian students chanting “peaceful” rallied Tuesday in the capital as they defiantly faced police officers who barred them from reaching the focal point of weeks of protests. “We will continue to march until a transitional (authority) led by clean politicians is set up,” Mira Laifa, a medical student, said as she took part in the demonstration. Read more.
Sweeping ‘fake news’ bill a risk for academic freedom
Yojana Sharma, University World News, 04/15
Academics from Singapore and around the world have expressed concern over Singapore’s new bill against internet ‘fake news’, which they say could have unintended consequences for academic freedom and research in the country and elsewhere, and could also set an international precedent that might “spur emulation by other countries with weaker institutions.” Read more.
Bhima Koregaon: Telangana police detain academics at meeting to protest arrest of Varvara Rao
The Telangana Police on Saturday detained several academics protesting against the arrest of activist Varavara Rao in Hyderabad. Educationist Haragopal, Telugu poet and journalist N Venugopal, litterateur Katyayani and many others were held in Hyderabad while holding an indoor meeting, the Revolutionary Writers’ Association said in a press release. Rao headed the association. Read more.
U.S. denies entry to leader of movement to boycott Israel
Hannah Allam, National Public Radio, 04/11
The U.S. government has denied entry to Palestinian activist Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the BDS movement, which urges boycott, divestment and sanctions to pressure Israel on security and settlement policies in the West Bank. Barghouti was at Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel on Wednesday when airline staff informed him that he wouldn’t be flying despite holding valid travel documents, according to the Arab American Institute, a Washington-based advocacy group that arranged the trip. He was told that U.S. immigration officials had ordered the U.S. consul in Tel Aviv to deny him permission to enter the United States. Read more.
Academic freedom and institutional autonomy: Commitments must be followed by action
European University Association, 04/10
Modern society thrives on the advancement of knowledge, scientific discoveries and technological development. Research enables such progress: from life-saving medicines to a more profound understanding of human behaviour and interaction, fundamental and applied research shapes and benefits societies around the world. However, research can only contribute to a prosperous and sustainable future if it is conducted according to certain fundamental principles. Read more.
Academics have shaped Sudan’s political history, and may do it again
Willow Berridge, The Conversation, 04/10
Sudanese academics at the University of Khartoum were prominently involved in Sudan’s two most famous uprisings. These were the October Revolution of 1964, which ushered out Sudan’s first military regime, and the April Intifada of 1985, which ousted the second. University lecturers have once again begun to mobilise alongside their fellow professionals against al-Bashir’s regime. Read more.
Czech president blocks professorship of academic critics
David Matthews, Times Higher Education, 04/10
The president of the Czech Republic is attempting to turn the country’s population against intellectuals and polarise society by vetoing professorships for critical academics, according to an art historian who has had his promotion repeatedly blocked. Miloš Zeman, who is known for his opposition to Muslim immigration, closeness to Russia and often described as a populist, has repeatedly used presidential powers to block the professorships of political opponents since he was elected in 2013. Read more.
Syria’s universities: Tragedy and disaster
Emily Seymour, Index on Censorship, 04/10
“We in Syria were living in a big prison, without freedom, without good education, without good quality of life, without any desire of development,” says Dr. Kassem Alsayed Mahmoud, a food science and agricultural engineering researcher. “We have in Syria only five universities while we have more than 200 prisons.” In 2009, Alsayed Mahmoud returned home to Syria after getting his masters and doctorate degree in France. He began working at Al-Furat University, where he quickly encountered the multitude of issues that academics in Syria face. Read more.
‘Out with the system’: Algeria protesters reject interim president
Al Jazeera, 04/09
Police in Algeria’s capital have fired tear gas and water cannon at thousands of students protesting against the appointment of a new interim president who is a part of the ruling order they have been seeking to remove. The demonstration in central Algiers on Tuesday took place as parliament officially confirmed upper house Speaker Abdelkader Bensalah as acting head of state for the next 90 days to replace Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who resigned last week under pressure from the weeks-long, youth-led protests. Read more.
Academic founders of pro-democracy movement convicted
Mimi Leung and Yojana Sharma, University World News, 04/09
Two academics and a reverend who were the co-founders of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement which brought the city to a halt with its largest ever street demonstrations in 2014, have been sentenced for their part in the protests, in what is being seen as a landmark political trial. University of Hong Kong (HKU) law scholar Benny Tai was convicted on two public nuisance-related charges on Tuesday, while sociology professor Chan Kin-man, who stepped down from his post at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) late last year to concentrate on the trial, was found guilty of two public nuisance charges. Read more.
Chinese universities ordered to spy on staff, students in ideological crackdown
Radio Free Asia, 04/08
Authorities in China are stepping up monitoring of staff and students at the country’s higher education institutions through the use of personal data, surveillance cameras in classrooms, and student informants who are the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s eyes and ears on the ground. Student informants are continually being recruited at China’s universities and typically report back to the authorities around once every two weeks, according to online documents. Read more.
RSF explains why Singapore’s anti-fake news bill is terrible
Reporters Without Borders, 04/08
An anti-fake news bill that the Singaporean government submitted to the city-state’s parliament a week ago would, if adopted in its current form, pose a major obstacle to the freedom to inform in Singapore and beyond, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) explains in the following analysis. The problem of online fake news is a real one, but the Singaporean government’s response, in the form of the Protection From Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill that was presented to parliament on 1 April, is completely inappropriate. Read more.
At Columbia, questions over canceled panel
Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Ed, 04/04
Columbia University abruptly called off a panel scheduled for this evening on the collapse of the rule in law in Turkey in what several panelists say was likely a result of pressure from the Turkish government. Columbia — which under the leadership of President Lee Bollinger, a First Amendment scholar, has fashioned itself as a bastion for free speech protections and famously defended a speaking invitation in 2007 to the then Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — denied the decision was a result of outside pressure. Read more.
Fears for academic freedom as Brazil’s political climate deteriorates
Santiago Saez Moreno, Chemistry World, 04/03
Researchers in Brazil say they are facing increasing threats since the election of far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro as the country’s president in October 2018. In an unprecedented development since the country regained democracy in 1985, scientists and academics who work in Brazil feel less safe, and some have even started to leave the country. Female researchers especially appear to be targeted. Read more.
Was British tech used by UAE to spy on Matthew Hedges?
Jan-Peter Westad, Middle East Eye, 04/02
The UK government refused to answer MEE’s questions about whether British surveillance equipment was used to monitor academic. Rights campaigners have accused the UK government of “facilitating abuses” for continuing to license the export of surveillance equipment to the United Arab Emirates after evidence has emerged that the technology may have been used to monitor a British academic. Read more.
Singapore plans law to fight false news, but critics fear repression
Mike Ives and Raymond Zhong, The New York Times, 04/01
Singapore introduced draft legislation on Monday that it said would combat false or misleading information on the internet, but critics said the measure could be used as a cudgel against the government’s critics. The legislation, called the Protection From Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill, would require websites to run corrections alongside “online falsehoods” and would “cut off profits” of sites that spread misinformation, among other measures, according to the Ministry of Law. Read more.
Winter settles on Chinese universities
Sarah Biddulph, Donald Clarke, Jerome A. Cohen, Margaret Lewis, Taisu Zhang, Teng Biao, and David Yeliang Xia, Foreign Policy, 04/01
Last week, Xu Zhangrun, a law professor at Beijing’s Tsinghua University who in recent months has written a series of essays critical of policies of the Chinese Communist Party and of its current leader, Xi Jinping, was banned from teaching, relieved of his academic duties, and put under investigation. While Xu has not technically been fired, many fear this week’s actions may be a prelude to more severe moves to silence a witty and prominent political critic and further chill an already wintry environment for scholarship and free expression in China. Read more.
Kyrgyz students vanish into Xinjiang’s maw
Gene A. Bunin, Foreign Policy, 03/31
Turgunaly Tursunaly was a recognizable figure on Bishkek’s Kyrgyz National University campus. Distinguishable by his light skin, big glasses, and friendly, boyish demeanor, the ethnic Kyrgyz from nearby China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region had already enjoyed a certain degree of fame even before coming to Kyrgyzstan to study. Read more.
Leaked reports reveal severe abuse of Saudi political prisoners
Nick Hopkins, Stephanie Kirchgaessner, and Kareem Shaheen, The Guardian, 03/31
Political prisoners in Saudi Arabia are said to be suffering from malnutrition, cuts, bruises and burns, according to leaked medical reports that are understood to have been prepared for the country’s ruler, King Salman. The reports seem to provide the first documented evidence from within the heart of the royal court that political prisoners are facing severe physical abuse, despite the government’s denials that men and women in custody are being tortured. Read more.
The Middle East’s authoritarians have come for conservationists
Peter Schwartzstein, The Atlantic, 03/30
Environmental activists pushing for clean water, restrictions on poaching, and action on climate change have faced prison—or worse. Amirhossein Khaleghi thought he knew danger. For much of the past 12 years, he had tracked Persian leopards and Asiatic cheetahs across the rugged splendor of Iran’s national parks. Read more.
Saudi Arabia: Two women human rights defenders temporarily freed, while others remain in prison
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights, 03/29
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) welcomes the news that two women’s rights defenders have been freed after over 10 months in detention in Saudi Arabia, but reiterates that they should never have been arrested. According to various reports, more women’s rights defenders arrested last year will be released on 31 March. There are currently at least 13 other women’s rights defenders (women and men) who were arrested as part of a crackdown on women’s rights activists that began in May 2018. Read more.
The European far right has its eye on education
Andrea Mammone and Anja Guidici, Al Jazeera, 03/29
Today, the Thirteenth World Congress of Families will kick off in Verona, under the patronage of the Italian regions of Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia. Marco Bussetti, the Italian education minister, will be among a number of high-level officials to speak at the event. That Bussetti will be rubbing shoulders with ultra-conservative activists and politicians from Italy, Hungary, Moldova, Russia, Uganda and Malawi at an event that purports to “the natural family as a fundamental unit of society” should not come as a surprise. Read more.
HRK President appalled at repression of Turkish researchers
The German Rectors’ Conference, 03/28
Around three years after the petition “We Will Not Be a Party to this Crime!” was published, the repression of researchers by the Turkish authorities has taken on a new dimension. The President of the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK), Professor Dr Peter-André Alt, stated his views on this today in Berlin. Read more.
Chinese officials pressured Concordia University to cancel event with Uighur activist
Levon Sevunts, CBC, 03/27
Chinese officials pressured a Montreal-based human rights research institute affiliated with Concordia University to cancel a conference featuring a prominent exiled Uighur leader, says one of the organizers of the event. Kyle Matthews, executive director of the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS) at Concordia University, said he received an email from the Chinese consul general in Montreal on Monday, asking him for an urgent meeting to discuss a planned conference on the Uighur minority in China. Read more.
Harvard activist detained in South Sudan charged with ‘insurgency, sabotage’ despite UN calls for his immediate release
Chantal Da Silva, Newsweek, 03/27
Peter Biar Ajak, a Harvard graduate and prominent political activist who has been detained by South Sudanese officials for nearly eight months, was charged with insurgency and sabotage, according to his lawyer. In a statement sent to Newsweek, international human rights lawyer Jared Genser said Ajak, a father of two young boys who has been detained in South Sudan since July 28, had been handed “unequivocally false” charges from South Sudanese officials on Monday. Read more.
A Chinese law professor criticized Xi. Now he’s been suspended
Chris Buckley, The New York Times, 03/26
One of China’s most prestigious universities has suspended a law professor and placed him under investigation after he published a series of essays that warned of deepening repression under President Xi Jinping, he said on Tuesday. Professor Xu Zhangrun, of Tsinghua University in Beijing, shot to prominence last year when he published a passionate essay in July that was a rare rebuke of Mr. Xi’s rule. Read more.
Indonesian university censors lesbian love story
Elaine Pearson, Human Rights Watch, 03/26
A student news website in Indonesia that published a story about a woman expressing her love for another young woman was ordered by university officials to shut down its entire news operation after the story went viral. North Sumatra University (USU), a public university in Medan, North Sumatra province, gave the 18 students who write for and publish Suara USU (USU News) just 48 hours to shut down and vacate the newsroom. Read more.
Kerala academic quits after HRD says researchers to pursue PhD only on topics of “national interest”
A Kerala academic, who stepped down to protest a central government order asking PhD students to focus on topics of national interest, has said people should think about education when they vote in the upcoming elections. In an interview with News18 published on Sunday, Meena T Pillai called such orders suicidal and feudal. Read more.
China: Government threats to academic freedom abroad
Human Rights Watch, 03/21
Institutions of higher learning around the world should resist the Chinese government’s efforts to undermine academic freedom abroad, Human Rights Watch said today. On March 21, 2019, Human Rights Watch published a 12-point Code of Conduct for colleges and universities to adopt to respond to Chinese government threats to the academic freedom of students, scholars, and educational institutions. Read more.
Pro-Palestine students ‘banned’ from UK campus during Queen’s visit
Middle East Monitor, 03/21
Kicking off Israeli Apartheid Week, pro-Palestine students at one of the most prestigious universities in London claim they were barred from campus during the Queen’s visit. At least ten King’s College London students came forward saying they were blocked from attending classes, exams and work on 19 March due to their political activity. Read more.
Student kills professor on campus over alleged blasphemy
Ameen Amjad Khan, University World News, 03/21
A student at a college in Pakistan’s Punjab province killed his professor by stabbing him with knife over alleged blasphemy on 20 March. The student, Khateeb Hussain, has been arrested by the police and has confessed to killing Professor Khalid Hameed, alleging that he spoke against Islam. Read more.
Trump’s free-speech order could have been harsher. But higher-ed leaders still don’t approve
Beth McMurtrie, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 03/21
The executive order that President Trump signed on Thursday, designed to protect free speech on college campuses, was less harsh than many critics had feared. Still, controversy clung to the measure, with constitutional-law scholars and higher-education leaders calling it unnecessary and potentially dangerous. Read more.
2 academics sentenced to 15 months, 1 academic to 2.5 years in prison
Tansu Piskin, Bianet, 03/20
While Tuna Kuyucu and İlker Birbil have been given deferred prison sentences of 15 months by the 27th Heavy Penal Court, Taylan Tarhan has been sentenced to 18 months and Nevin Zeynep Yelçe has been sentenced to 2 years, 6 months by the same court. Trial of academics, who have been charged with “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” for having signed the declaration entitled “We will not be a party to this crime” prepared by the Academics for Peace, continued in İstanbul Çağlayan Courthouse today (March 20). Read more.
German deal could allow CEU to stay in Hungary
Anna McKie, Times Higher Education, 03/17
Threatened university says it needs ‘definitive legal certainty’ over its future. The leader of the conservative group in the European Parliament is attempting to broker a deal that could allow the Central European University to stay in Budapest. Read more.
Saudi Arabia: Women human rights defenders taken to court on charges which violate their right to freedom of expression
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights, 03/17
On 13 March 2019, nine women human rights defenders were brought for the first hearing of their trial in Riyadh. They were among 11 women defendants. The court was changed at the last minute to the Criminal Court from the Specialised Criminal Court (SCC), which was set up in 2008 to deal with cases related to terrorism. Read more.
Students protest after National Law University suspends 6 students
Bharat Khanna, The Times of India, 03/16
Students of Rajiv Gandhi National Law University in Patiala staged a protest against the administration of the university following the suspension of six students who had raised their voice against the poor food being supplied in the university mess. The protesting students had to spend whole Friday night outside the university on main road after they were thrown out for protesting against the university authorities. Read more.
Academic freedoms: why do protections not apply to university leaders?
Ellie Bothwell, Times Higher Education, 03/14
As universities become ever more wary of negative publicity, leaders who speak out on contentious issues are increasingly finding themselves in hot water. When the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse invited porn star-turned-sex educator Nina Hartley to speak on campus last year, he expected that there would be “some controversy.” Read more.
Academics hail court rulings on deported lecturers
Tunde Fatunde, University World News, 03/13
Nigerian academics have welcomed a ruling by the Federal High Court in Abuja ordering the repatriation of six academics – five Cameroonian and one Nigerian – who were arrested and deported from Nigeria in January last year on allegations of plotting to overthrow the government of Cameroonian President Paul Biya. Two separate judgments were handed down by presiding judge, Justice Anwuli Chikere, on 1 March in connection with the matter. Read more.
Saudi women’s rights activists stand trial in criminal court
Middle East Eye, 03/13
Several Saudi Arabian women rights activists stood trial on Wednesday for the first time since a group of them were detained last year in a case that has intensified scrutiny of Riyadh’s human rights record. Loujain al-Hathloul, Aziza al-Yousef, Eman al-Nafjan and Hatoon al-Fassi are among around 10 women appearing before the criminal court in Riyadh, the capital, where charges will be presented against them, court president Ibrahim al-Sayari said. Read more.
University collaborations at risk after death sentence
Wagdy Sawahel and Yojana Sharma, University World News, 03/13
Universities have warned that cooperation agreements with Iranian universities could be put at risk by the conviction and death sentence in Iran of Iranian-Swedish academic Ahmadreza Djalali, in a significant stepping up of pressure on Iranian authorities by universities in Europe and elsewhere. The German Rectors’ Conference (HRK), the umbrella organisation for some 268 universities in the country, said in a statement on March 5: “We want to make it clear that we will continue to fight for the freedom of Dr Djalali alongside a number of international partners. Respecting human rights and academic freedom is an indispensable prerequisite for cooperation with Iranian universities.” Read more.
Venezuela research output plummets as political crisis grips state
Simon Baker, Times Higher Education, 03/12
Data on research output in South America paints a stark picture for the troubled nation. The political and economic crisis that has been engulfing Venezuela has been accompanied by a huge drop in the amount of research being produced by academics from the country, data show. Read more.
ECHR: Cancellation of passports of Turkish academics threaten academic freedoms
Amnesty International, 03/11
On 5 March 2019, the Turkey Litigation Support Project, Amnesty International, ARTICLE 19 and PEN International submitted a third party intervention before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on the key case concerning the cancellation of passports of three academics from Turkey – Alphan Telek, Edgar Şar and Zeynep Kıvılcım. In retaliation for signing a petition calling for peace in Southeast Turkey known as the “Academics for Peace” petition, the three scholars were dismissed from their jobs, had their passports cancelled and banned from public service under Turkey’s state of emergency legislation. Read more.
Renowned Sudanese geneticist behind bars for opposing regime
Linda Nordling, Science Magazine, 03/11
A leading Sudanese geneticist has been imprisoned for speaking out against the country’s repressive regime. Muntaser Ibrahim, who heads the University of Khartoum’s Institute of Endemic Diseases, was arrested on 21 February in Khartoum and has been detained ever since. His friends and family do not know his location. They say Ibrahim suffers from a heart condition that requires specialist care. Read more.
Hungarian scientists fear for academic freedom with new government interference
Staff members of the historic Hungarian Academy of Sciences said their academic freedom has been threatened by a new deal giving the nationalist government influence over its research institutions. Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a conservative leader who came to power in 2010, has tightened control over Hungarian public life, including the courts, the media, the economy, as well as education and now scientific research. Read more.
Crisis threatens scientific progress
Jorge A. Huete-Pérez, Gioconda Cunto de San Blas, and Jeremy N. McNeil, Science Magazine, 03/08
Science Magazine, 03/08
Years of sociopolitical unrest in Nicaragua and Venezuela have given rise to a human rights and humanitarian crisis in Latin America. Last week, the situation in both countries took a serious turn. It is also important to point out the grave, long-term impact that these crises have on science and education in these countries. Read more.
Silencing women’s voices in Saudi Arabia
Elaine Pearson, Human Rights Watch, 03/07
Nassima ran as a candidate in local elections in 2015 before authorities removed her name from the ballot. Hatoon is a professor of women’s history and among the first women to acquire a driver’s license in Saudi Arabia. Read more.
Why banning controversial voices is bad practice
Nuraan Davids and Yusef Waghid, University World News, 03/06
Two years ago the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa ‘disinvited’ Flemming Rose from giving its annual TB Davie Academic Freedom Lecture. Rose is the cultural editor of the Danish publication Jyllands-Posten that depicted the Prophet Muhammad in cartoons. Read more.
Iranian Belgian academic arrested in Iran on unspecified “security charges”
Center for Human Rights in Iran, 03/06
A dual national academic who has taught at the University of Tehran and the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium was arrested on “security charges,” a senior Iranian official revealed on March 4, 2019. In speaking about the case, Deputy Science Minister Salar Amoli omitted details about the detainees’ identity, including his name and date of arrest. Read more.
Armed with memes, Algerian protestors join anti-Bouteflika protests
Hamdi Baala, Al Jazeera, 03/05
Thousands of university students have marched in Algeria’s capital, as peaceful rallies against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid to seek a fifth term continued for a second week. Thousands of young Algerians demonstrate in the capital, Algiers, over ailing president’s bid to seek a fifth term. Read more.
Court of appeal upholds first prison sentence of an Academic for Peace
Tansu Piskin, Bianet, 03/04
The 3rd Panel Chamber of the İstanbul Regional Court of Justice has upheld the prison sentence of 1 year and 3 months previously given to Prof. Dr. Zübeyde Füsun Üstel for having signed the declaration “we will not be party to this crime” declared by Academics for Peace. Being upheld by the court of appeal by majority of votes, the prison sentence given to Üstel on April 4, 2018 has become definite. Read more.
Anger at punishment for students’ pro-independence posts
Mimi Leung, University World News, 03/04
The expulsion of a student and punishments meted out to three others over pro-independence postings on a university noticeboard dubbed ‘democracy wall’ has led to a renewed outcry over free speech on Hong Kong’s campuses. More than a dozen pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong called for the punishments to be reversed after Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) on 1 March expelled master’s degree student Gerald Ho. Read more.
Cambridge protest for South Sudan student facing death penalty
Campaigners calling for a Cambridge University student facing the death penalty in South Sudan to be released are staging a 48-hour “cage campaign”. PhD student Peter Biar Ajak, 35, a critic of his country’s regime, has been detained without charge since his arrest at Juba Airport in July. Read more.
2 Academics Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison
Tansu Pişkin, Bianet, 02/28
Having their hearings at the 37th İstanbul Heavy Penal Court, two academics have been sentenced to 15 months in prison on charge of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization.” The pronouncement of their verdicts have been suspended. Read more.
Hungarian government withholds funding from Academy of Sciences prompting protests
Santiago Sáez, Moreno, Chemistry World, 02/27
The Hungarian government is withholding HUF17 billion (£46.5 million) of funding earmarked for the everyday running of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The academy is the country’s main research institution, comprising over 40 research centres, and the science ministry has said it will not release the money for at least three months. The move has sparked protests from researchers both in Hungary and abroad who claim that the government is undermining researchers’ independence. Read more.
Families denied access to secretive trial of Iran’s detained conservationists
Center for Human Rights in Iran, 02/27
Detained conservationist Morad Tahbaz was summoned to two closed-door sessions February 24-25, 2019, in Tehran’s Revolutionary Court system, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned. A knowledgeable source told CHRI that the families are unlawfully being denied access to the trial: “The families are not even being let inside the courtroom. The only thing the lawyers are telling the families is that everything will turn out okay. The families and the defendants cannot speak freely because an [security] agent is always present during their meetings inside prison.” Read more.
First dissenting opinion of acquittal against a verdict of conviction
Tansu Pişkin, Bianet, 02/27
While 4 academics have been sentenced to 15 months in prison, one academic has been given a prison sentence of 1 year, 10 months, for whom a judge member to the court board has expressed a dissenting opinion, stating “He should have been acquitted.” Read more.
Tens of thousands of Algerian students join growing anti-Bouteflika protests
Middle East Eye, 02/26
Tens of thousands of students joined a growing protest movement across Algeria after ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced plans to run for a fifth term earlier this month, Reuters news agency reported, citing witnesses. Rallies in and around the capital and other cities have been ongoing for the past five days, with Tuesday’s protests led by university students. Read more.
Add wildlife conservation to the list of capital offenses in Iran
Jason Rezaian, The Washington Post, 02/26
International pressure to end the imprisonment of eight environmentalists in Iran is mounting as the farcical trial against them lumbers on. Prosecutors claim that the group spied on some of Iran’s most sensitive military installations at the behest of the CIA and Mossad. The reality is far more mundane (and heroic): The accused are conservationists who were tracking the movements of an endangered species of cheetah. Read more.
From Badawi to Khashoggi: Freedom of speech in Saudi Arabia
Deutsche Welle, 02/26
It has been almost seven years since blogger Raif Badawi, the first recipient of DW’s Freedom of Speech Award, was imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. Freedom of expression was — and still is — a criminal offense there. Read more.
Is academic freedom threatened? (Spanish)
Camilo Peña Castañeda, El Tiempo, 02/25
In Congress, a controversial bill was filed this week that seeks to penalize teachers who promote political ideologies in class. A position that, according to experts in education, violates the freedom of teaching enshrined in Article 67 of the 1991 Constitution. Read more.
Kashmiri students face backlash after major terror attack
Shuriah Niazi, University World News, 02/21
The political tensions over a 14 February suicide bombing that killed more than 40 paramilitary officers in Pulwama in Indian-administered Kashmir have spilled over onto university campuses in India with Kashmiri students bearing the brunt of people’s anger. Many were forced to lock themselves in their campus rooms for days, others attempted to flee home to Kashmir, and hundreds were evacuated from university campuses by Kashmiri student organisations which provided them with temporary shelter. Read more.
School’s out forever
Rosa Schwartzburg, Slate, 02/20
My university’s new campus is currently being set up in an old state hospital on the outskirts of Vienna. Budapest-based Central European University bought the old building a few months ago as a fail-safe in case the Hungarian government succeeded in driving us out of the country. Read more.
Scholars at Risk: Zelalem Kibret forced to choose between silence and speaking his mind
Lauren Savage, Index on Censorship, 2/20
Ethiopian blogger and academic, Zelalem Kibret, was raised in a country where living in silence or speaking your mind was often a choice between life and death. “Political prisoners have been released but the academic conditions are getting worse and universities are shutting down” says Zelalem, a Scholar-in-Residence at the Centre of Human Rights and Legal Pluralism at Canada’s McGill University. “Students are being killed.” Read more.
Indian professor who compared Modi to Hitler is waiting to be jailed
Kai Schultz, Jeffrey Gettleman, and Hari Kumar, The New York Times, 02/20
Returning from a lecture in southern India a few weeks ago, Prof. Anand Teltumbde was booking a cab outside Mumbai’s airport after midnight when security officers approached him in the dark and took him away. Mr. Teltumbde, a prominent scholar and writer on Indian social issues, was locked in an iron-grilled cell in the nearby city of Pune. For eight hours, he sat behind bars on a dirty mat until a court intervened, ruling that the arrest was illegal. Read more.
Sudan shutters all its universities
Tarek Abd El-Galil, Al-Fanar Media, 02/19
Mounting protests against President Omar al-Bashir’s government in Sudan have resulted in the government closing all of the country’s universities. Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, Sudan’s Minister of Higher Education, announced the suspension of study at 38 public universities and about 100 private higher education institutions after the outbreak of popular demonstrations against the country’s punishing economic conditions and the increased cost of living. Read more.
International call to end ‘unfounded interventions’ at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Florin Zubașcu, Science|Business, 02/19
European academies are calling on the Hungarian government to stop “recurring and unfounded interventions” in the structure and funding of the research institutes of Hungary’s academy of sciences. The European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities (ALLEA) says the proposed reorganisation of the structure and funding of academy’s research institutes harm academic freedom, scientific excellence and the self-governance of scientific institutions. By withholding funding for basic maintenance costs and salaries, the government “politicises scientific research and jeopardises Hungary’s strong European and international partnerships in science,” the federation said. Read more.
Academics condemn Israeli arrests of Palestinian students
Edward Fox, Al-Fanar Media, 02/19
The detention by Israeli authorities of Yehya Rabie, the pro-Hamas president of the Student Council at Birzeit University, represents a continuing policy of aggressively stifling students and professors who support the Islamist group at Palestinian universities, academic and human-rights organizations say. In the words of Carmen Keshek, a spokeswoman for Birzeit, “the Israelis consider anyone aligned with Hamas to be terrorists.” Read more.
For the first time in history, CIDH recognized abuses of university autonomy (Spanish)
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights recognized for the first time the violations of academic freedom in the Americas, mainly in Venezuela and Nicaragua, at the 171st Period of Sessions that began on February 7, 2019 and ended on the 16th, in the city of Sucre, Bolivia. Read more.
Threatened scholars: online harassment risks academic freedom
David Matthews, Times Higher Education, 02/14
Two academics who were bombarded with death and rape threats after they were selected by Twitter to research communication on the platform have warned that such incidents will make scholars afraid to speak to the public. Rebekah Tromble, assistant professor of political communication at Leiden University, and Patricia Rossini, a postdoctoral researcher at Syracuse University in New York state, said that they had feared for their safety during an onslaught of tens of thousands of hostile tweets, comments and emails last July. Read more.
Uighur academics targeted by Chinese ‘cultural cleansing’
Ellie Bothwell, Times Higher Education, 02/12
Academics have been urged to protest against China’s mass internment of the Uighur community and to reconsider their interactions with state-controlled educational programmes as the country’s persecution of Muslim minorities continues. A report from the Uyghur Human Rights Project states that at least 338 Uighur intellectuals have been “interned, imprisoned or forcibly disappeared” since April 2017, in what it describes as the “Chinese state’s ‘cultural cleansing’ campaign”. Read more.
Turkey’s mass trials deepen wounds left by attempted coup
Carlotta Gall, The New York Times, 02/12
Turkish courts are just weeks from concluding some 300 mass trials intended to draw a line under the most traumatic event of Turkey’s recent history: the failed 2016 coup that killed 251 people, mostly civilians, and wounded more than 2,000. Read more.
Sudan security arrests professors as protests rage on: witnesses
Khalid Abdelaziz, Yousef Saba, Andrew Heavens, Reuters, 02/12
Security forces arrested 14 professors who were gathering to protest outside Khartoum University on Tuesday, witnesses said, as anti-government demonstrations neared the end of their eighth week. Doctors also rallied outside state and private hospitals in Sudan’s capital and other cities against the rule of President Omar al-Bashir, witnesses added. Read more.
Scientists in Hungary protest govt takeover of research
Pablo Gorondi, The Associated Press, 02/12
Scientists in Hungary on Tuesday protested government efforts to take control of their research funding, a move they say endangers academic freedom. Several thousand people formed a human chain around the headquarters of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, urging the academy’s leaders to fight the government plan and hold onto their independence. Read more.
Two kinds of academic freedom? Lessons from a scholar who fled Turkey
Shannon Dea, University Affairs, 02/11
Should there be a separate conception of academic freedom for precarious and independent scholars? After last month’s Dispatch was published, I shared it on Facebook. In the comment thread below the post, University of Guelph visiting assistant professor Evren Altinkas provocatively asked “Is it ‘academic freedom’ or ‘freedom of [the] academician?” Intrigued, I asked him to explain the distinction he had in mind. Read more.
Iranian agents tried to frame detained conservationists by staging scenes to falsely implicate them
Center for Human Rights in Iran, 02/11
Amid eight conservationists’ closed-door trial in Iran’s revolutionary court system, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has been informed that agents staged scenes around at least two of the detainees with the intent of implicating them in a false narrative. Read more.
Cambridge University student Peter Biar Ajak ‘detained in hellhole’
A Cambridge University student facing the death penalty in South Sudan is being “arbitrarily detained in a modern-day hellhole”, his lawyer says. PhD student Peter Biar Ajak, 35, a critic of his country’s regime, has been detained without charge since his arrest at Juba Airport in July. His lawyer Jared Genser said this was “in clear violation of his rights under international law”. Read more.
Academic freedom and the Inter-American Human Rights System (Spanish)
Salvador Herencia Carrasco, Catalina Aragón Patiño, Los Tiempos, 02/08
Between February 7 and 16, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will hold its 171st session in Sucre, Bolivia. The public hearings will be from February 13 to 15, which represents an opportunity for the legal community, the media and the public to know how the Inter-American System works (IAHRS), as well as the human rights challenges in the region. Read more.
Universities in battle to build trust in a hostile world
Mary Beth Marklein, University World News, 02/08
Central European University (CEU), the bastion of academic freedom being forced out of Budapest, Hungary, received a shot in the arm last month when a team of United States academics recommended it be re-accredited for another five years. “A remarkable institution,” Johns Hopkins University President Ron Daniels, the team leader, wrote in the Washington Post. Read more.
Parliament to summon security companies over student protests
Tamar Khan, Business Day, 02/06
Parliament will summon private security companies to explain their actions in quelling student protests, following the death of a student at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) on Tuesday. Read more.
15-Month Deferred Prison Sentence for 3 Academics
Tansu Pişkin, Bianet, 02/06
Academics İnci Özkan Kerestecioğlu, Biriz Berksoy and Canay Şahin have been sentenced to 1 year and 3 months in prison. The court board of the İstanbul 36th Heavy Penal Court has ruled that the announcement of all three verdicts shall be deferred. Read more.
Foreign academics ‘less likely’ to speak up for academic freedom
Ellie Bothwell, Times Higher Education, 02/06
The hiring of international academics at universities in Singapore could reinforce the country’s lack of academic freedom and “make the academy more conservative”, a scholar has claimed. Read more.
Iran Detains Conservationist as 8 Others Tried in Court
Michael Lipin, VOA, 02/04
Iran has detained another environmentalist who worked for the same Iranian conservation organization as eight activists who went on trial in Tehran last week after spending a year in detention. A reliable source in Iran told VOA Persian that Iranian authorities detained Pouria Sepahvand of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation on Saturday. Read more.
Treatment of Saudi women activists could be torture, UK panel finds
Middle East Eye, 02/04
A panel of British MPs and lawyers investigating the detention of women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia has concluded that their treatment could constitute torture under Saudi and international law. Read more.
Venezuelan universities ‘approaching point of no return’
Rachael Pells, Times Higher Education, 02/03
University leaders in Venezuela have called on the United Nations to intervene in the country’s political crisis amid warnings that the deterioration of the higher education system is approaching the point of no return. Read more.
Unrest grows as Sudanese professors boycott al-Bashir
Mail & Guardian, 02/01
About 300 Sudanese professors and lecturers from the University of Khartoum held a sit-in protest on campus on Wednesday against President Omar al-Bashir’s government, a spokesperson for the group said. Deadly protests have rocked the East African country since December 19, after a government decision to triple the price of bread. Read more.
Disappearing textbook highlights debate in China over academic freedom
Christian Shepherd, Reuters, 02/01
A constitutional law textbook written by one China’s best-known reform-minded legal scholars has been pulled from book shops, apparently the latest text to run afoul of a government campaign against “Western influence”. The author, Zhang Qianfan, a professor at Peking University known for his advocacy of constitutionalism and judicial reform, dismissed any suggestion his writing excessively promoted Western ideas as “utter nonsense”, and said the academic world should not be politicized. Read more.
A man who spoke for peace must not be met with silence
Lisa Klaassen, Varsity, 01/31
When striving for peace is punished, courage must prevail. Peter Biar Ajak, a peace activist and PhD student at the University of Cambridge, was contending for peace and youth leadership in his native South Sudan when he was arrested at Juba Airport on July 28th, 2018. Since being taken into custody at the notorious South Sudanese prison known as the Blue House, Peter has been held without receiving formal charges, delaying his right to legal representation and any attempts at release. Read more.
Uganda’s Makerere University at center of row over academic freedom
Wambi Michael, Deutsche Welle, 01/31
The row began shortly before Christmas when Makerere University dismissed 45 members of its academic staff. The purpose of this was said to be to stamp out indiscipline. Vice Chancellor Barnabas Nawangwe also suspended the chairperson of the Makerere University Academic Staff Association (MUASA), Dr. Deus Kamunyu, as well as Barnett Magara, chair of the Makerere University Administrative Association (MASA) and Joseph Kalema, secretary-general of the Administrative Staff Association. Read more.
Call for sector guidelines on academic freedom on social media
Ellie Bothwell, Times Higher Education, 01/31
Universities and academics must urgently establish what constitutes acceptable speech by scholars online, experts have claimed, as several staff at institutions across the UK reveal that they have been contacted or disciplined by managers over their use of social media. One senior member of staff at a UK university told Times Higher Education that his institution recently considered asking him to resign from his administrative duties after he published a negative tweet about UK government policies. Read more.
Do Australia, New Zealand academics fear travelling to China after Yang Hengjun’s arrest?
John Power, South China Morning Post, 01/30
China’s detention of Chinese-Australian writer Yang Hengjun earlier this month is fuelling fears among some sinologists in Australia and New Zealand that it is not safe to travel to the mainland for work. Yang, an Australian citizen and former Chinese diplomat who has criticised Beijing for censorship and overseas interference, has been held on the mainland under “residential surveillance” on suspicion of espionage since January 19. He was on a family trip when he was taken at Guangzhou airport. Read more.
Uyghur scholars and students interned or disappeared
Yojana Sharma, University World News, 01/30
Specific details are emerging about an alarming number of university teachers of China’s Uyghur Muslim minority identified as interned, imprisoned or forcibly disappeared in China – part of a major government crackdown on Uyghurs that has seen around 1 million detained in camps in Xinjiang province since 2017. A new report released this week by the United States-based Uyghur Human Rights Project (URHP) notes that some 242 scholars, artists and journalists have been identified, among them “an alarming 61 university professors” and some 96 students. Read more.
Historians call for release of Nicaraguan professor
Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Ed, 01/30
The leadership of the American Historical Association wrote last week to Nicaraguan authorities urging them to release Ricardo Baltodano Marcenaro, a professor at the Universidad Politécnica de Nicaragua. The monitoring group Scholars at Risk has reported that Baltodano was detained in September “in apparent retaliation” for his participation in nationwide protests against the government of President Daniel Ortega that started last April. On Sept. 18 Baltodano was accused by the National Police of Nicaragua of terrorism, murder and other crimes. Read more.
EU team visits China’s Xinjiang region to gather evidence on re-education camps
South China Morning Post, 01/29
A European Union delegation has visited China’s far western region of Xinjiang, a rare chance to gather evidence on the re-education camps that have drawn harsh criticism from human rights groups and Western powers, officials said on Monday. The team was supervised by Chinese officials during on the three-day trip this month, but managed to gather information the EU said built on “forcing and mutually consistent” reports of rights abuses in the region. Read more.
Professor Says U Didn’t Like Her MLK Day Comments
Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed, 01/28
Melissa Harris-Perry, journalist and professor of political science and director of the Anna Julia Cooper Center at Wake Forest University, said on Twitter that the institution invited her to leave after she criticized it during a speech honoring Martin Luther King Jr. last week. Read more.
Violence against African students undermines HE plans
Wagdy Sawahel, University World News, 01/25
Tunisia continues to witness incidents of criminally or racially motivated violent attacks on Sub-Saharan African students, which threaten the safety of the foreign academic community and undermine Tunisia’s plan for becoming an attractive African hub for education and training. Among the incidents making the news more recently was that involving Falikou Coulibaly, the president of the Association of Ivorian students in Tunisia, who was stabbed to death in the capital Tunis, on 23 December last year. Read more.
Iran is using false “confessions” to manufacture cases against detained conservationists
Center for Human Rights in Iran, 01/24
Some of the conservationists who have been imprisoned incommunicado in Iran for the past year have been forced to confess under the threat of death, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned. New details about the prolonged detentions of Houman Jowkar, Taher Ghadirian, Morad Tahbaz, Sepideh Kashani, Niloufar Bayani, Amir Hossein Khaleghi, Sam Rajabi and Abdolreza Kouhpayeh strongly indicate that Iran’s judicial officials have been working closely with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC’s) Intelligence Organization to build cases against them based on false confessions obtained under extreme duress. Read more.
Four Sudanese killed as dozens of cities hold protests against president
Mohammed Amin, Middle East Eye, 01/24
Four Sudanese men have been killed as the country saw its most widespread protests on Thursday during more than a month of continued unrest. The Sudanese Doctors’ Committee said medical student Mahjoub al-Taj Majhoub died “after being subjected to beating and torture” while in police custody. University student Abd al-Azeem Babikir, 22, was killed “after a bullet hit him directly in the chest”, the committee said in a statement. Read more.
3-year prison sentence not deferred: ‘We gave a 2-year sentence, then increased it to 3 years’
Tansu Pişkin, Bianet, 01/24
Dr. Lecturer Yonca Demir from Bilgi University has been sentenced to 3 years in prison. The presiding judge announced the verdict saying, “We gave a two-year sentence. Then we increased it to three years. And we did not reverse the verdict.” Read more.
Campus protests spread as junta lifts ban for election
Suluck Lamubol, University World News, 01/24
Peaceful protests led by student activist groups have sprung up on university campuses across Thailand in recent weeks after the country’s military government lifted the ban on political gatherings in preparation for national elections – the first since the junta came to power in 2014 – now scheduled for 24 March. Read more.
Singapore legal challenge ‘will chill academic freedom’
Ellie Bothwell, Times Higher Education, 01/23
Academics fear that the removal of an online article that included critical comments about the country’s two leading universities following a legal challenge will have a chilling effect on freedom of expression. The story, “Opaque policies, fixation with KPIs, rankings: why arts and humanities academics quit NUS, NTU”, which was published by the online newspaper Today, included interviews with several academics who had left or were planning to leave the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Read more.
Government continues crackdown on academic freedom in Hungary
Florin Zubașcu, Science|Business, 01/22
The Hungarian government is continuing its crackdown on academic freedom and has intensified attempts to put the research institutes of the Academy of Sciences under direct political control, after previously forcing the Central European University to move most of its courses from Budapest to Vienna and banning institutions in the country from offering gender studies degrees. Researchers at the academy are worried about their future, as the government is seeking more control over the research budget and is claiming the academy’s network of research institutes needs to be restructured to boost excellence in research and innovation. Read more.
Chinese Marxist students appear in ‘confession’ video as crackdown continues
James Griffiths, CNN, 01/22
China’s universities have always been a breeding ground for political activism, from the May Fourth Movement which helped lead to the Communist revolution, to the 1989 pro-democracy protests which sought to reform it. Today, however, China’s leaders have no intention of allowing students to challenge them, as a months-long crackdown against a Marxist university group demonstrates. Read more.
Prominent Saudi scholar Ahmed al-Amari dies in prison: Activists
Al Jazeera, 01/21
A prominent Saudi Imam and preacher at the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina has died in prison, reportedly as a result of being held in poor conditions, activists have said. Sheikh Ahmed al-Amari, former dean of the Quran College in the Islamic University of Madinah, died on Sunday, more than five months after he was arrested, said the social media advocacy group, Prisoners of Conscience, which monitors and documents arrests of Saudi preachers and religious scholars. Read more.
New students’ platform in front line against Bashir
Wagdy Sawahel, University World News, 01/16
Sudanese university students have joined forces to form a new students’ association of unions and groups and have called for the immediate release of all detainees and the resignation of long-standing Sudanese autocrat president Omar al-Bashir. Launched on Monday, 14 January, the Sudanese Students Association (SSA) will act as a collective platform for Sudanese students to unite their efforts in the battle to topple the regime and restore rights. Read more.
Universities to ramp up security on campuses, education board says after lecturer murder
Hürriyet Daily News, 01/16
New security measures are underway for university campuses, Turkey’s Higher Education Board (YÖK) said on Jan. 15 following the murder of a lecturer on the campus of an Ankara university earlier this month.A study to ensure the peace and security of academics was initiated and several decisions have been made,” said a statement released after a meeting on Jan. 15 of a joint commission between YÖK and the Interior Ministry. Read more.
Morocco’s crackdown won’t silence dissent
Ilhem Rachidi, Foreign Policy, 01/16
When she joined the National Union of Moroccan Students in 1978, Khadija Ryadi knew she’d face hardship. “At that time,” she recalled, “we were constantly followed by the police.” But today, she told me, life may be even harder. “Now not only are we followed but we are also listened to and photographed, and everywhere. The repression has remained, but the instruments have changed. I never feel at ease.” Read more.
Academic sentenced to 2 years, 1 month in prison; sentence not deferred
Tansu Pişkin, Bianet, 01/16
Academic M.A. has been sentenced to 2 years, 1 month in prison for “knowingly and willingly aiding a terrorist organization as a non-member.” Neither the announcement of the verdict nor the sentence has been deferred due to “absence of legal possibility.” Read more.
Brazilian academics ‘gaslighted’ in swirl of policy rumours
Rachael Pells, Times Higher Education, 01/15
Claims that Brazil’s new far-right president will force candidates for publicly funded scholarships to take an “ideology” test have provoked alarm among academics, in a sign of the anxiety gripping campuses since the installation of Jair Bolsonaro. Capes, Brazil’s federal postgraduate funding body, was forced to release a statement stating that there would be “no undertaking” of the exam. It was mooted in an article in leading newspaper O Globo, which stated that “new measures are being considered by the Ministry of Education” for the allocation of master’s and doctoral scholarships to students at home and going abroad, including an “ideological criterion”. Read more.
Rights groups demand release of Uyghur professor Ilham Tohti on fifth anniversary of arrest
Radio Free Asia, 01/15
Rights activists and Uyghur advocacy groups on Tuesday demanded the release from prison of Uyghur academic and blogger Ilham Tohti in statements marking the fifth anniversary of his arrest on charges of promoting separatism and subsequent sentencing to a life term behind bars. An outspoken economics professor who regularly highlighted the religious and cultural persecution of the mostly Muslim Uyghur ethnic minority in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), Tohti was sentenced on Sept. 23, 2014 following a two-day show trial. Read more.
Matthew Hedges, former UAE detainee, demands ‘acknowledgement’ of abuse
Ali Harb, Middle East Eye, 01/15
He was detained for seven months, held in solitary confinement, had drugs forced on him and was sentenced to life in prison. Now, British academic Matthew Hedges is free – and demanding accountability. “I’m not going to let my experience and my prosecution stand,” Hedges said at an event hosted by the American Society of International Law (ASIL) in Washington on Tuesday. Read more.
Malaysian progress towards institutional autonomy slows
John Ross, Times Higher Education, 01/15
Malaysia is in a bind as its new-broom government strives to jettison the country’s stifling Universities and University Colleges Act. The Pakatan Harapan administration has made some progress in dismantling the legislation, which restricts freedom of expression and gives the government the right to appoint university leaders. Read more.
The fate of academic freedom in Thailand
Tyrell Haberkorn, East Asia Forum, 01/10
On 11 December 2018 Thai Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha promulgated Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order No. 22/2561, which ostensibly relaxed restrictions on civilian participation in politics ahead of the elections planned for February 2019. Read more.
Swedish physician/professor in very bad health in Iranian prison: 124 Nobel laureates call for his release
Committee of Concerned Scientists, 01/09
Ahmadreza Djalali, a physician and lecturer living in Sweden, was arrested while in Iran for a presentation to other medical professionals. He was accused of spying and sentenced to death. He has now been confined for 2.5 years. Read more.
A just future for #MeToo starts with supporting sexuality research
Victoria Brooks, Times Higher Education, 01/09
If the #MeToo movement has taught us anything, it is that if we want to change the justice system to make it fairer to and less dismissive of women, that legal reform effort must be informed by a knowledge of female sexuality gained by listening to the experiences of women. Read more.
Deferred prison sentence of 1 year, 3 months for 1 academic
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Y.A. has been sentenced to 1 year and 3 months in prison on charge of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization.” The announcement of the verdict has been deferred. Read more.
Iran arrests demographers, the latest target amid an escalating crackdown on academics and activists
Melissa Etehad and Ramin Mostaghim, Los Angeles Times, 01/07
Academics with foreign ties living in Iran are on alert following the arrest of a demographer whose research led her to question the country’s decision to urge people to have more children. Read more.
Sudan arrests Khartoum University lecturers amid fresh protests
Sudanese security authorities have arrested several faculty members from Khartoum University, two professors said, after they joined anti-government protests that have posed the most serious challenge to President Omar al-Bashir’s rule. Read more.
Her husband was detained in Iran. Now she’s raising their child on her own.
Jessica Schulberg, HuffPost, 01/06
One summer evening a couple years ago, Hua Qu’s son’s preschool teacher pulled her aside. Shaofan, Qu’s son, had been pretending that bad guys had locked his dad in a dungeon inside of a big castle that was guarded by scary dragon. Read more.
China targets prominent Uighur intellectuals to erase an ethnic identity
Austin Ramzy, The New York Times, 01/05
As a writer and magazine editor, Qurban Mamut promoted the culture and history of his people, the Uighurs, and that of other Turkic minority groups who live in far western China. Read more.
Celebrating academic bravery
Eric Anthony Grollman, Inside Higher Ed, 01/04
In April 2015, I spoke on a panel on intellectual activism during the Parren Mitchell Symposium at the University of Maryland. That is the professional turf of Patricia Hill Collins — foremother of black feminist theory and author of On Intellectual Activism — so you know it was a significant event. Read more.
Mother of student held over Ortega protest in global plea for help
Hannah Summers, The Guardian, 01/03
The mother of a medical student facing more than 20 years in prison for protesting against the Nicaraguan government is appealing to the international community to put pressure on president Daniel Ortega’s regime. Amaya Eva Coppens, a Belgian-Nicaraguan dual national, is due to stand trial in the capital Managua after being “abducted” in a raid by more than 30 riot police and paramilitaries on 10 September. Read more.
Scholars are at risk all around the world – and Canada needs to lead
Melanie Adrian, Viviana Fernandez, Nandini Ramanujam, and Anneke Smit, The Globe and Mail, 01/03
Just before war broke out in her home country, Syrian chemist Hanadi Ibrahim, living in France, completed her PhD research on new drugs for cancer treatment. Dr. Ibrahim had never considered herself an activist, but upon her return to Syria, she felt called to join other academics to call out the injustices and persecution of so many people in her country. Read more.
‘Hundreds’ of cultural figures caught up in China’s Uyghur persecution
Lisa Movius, The Art Newspaper, 01/02
The recent detention of the photographer Lu Guang in north-west China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has sparked a global outpouring of protest. Lu Guang, who is known for his work documenting the ecological and human devastation of development in remote regions in China, is the first cultural figure from the Han Chinese majority population to disappear into the prisons of Xinjiang. But most of the region’s Uyghur writers, artists and scholars have already been imprisoned. Read more.
British MPs, lawyers request visit to detained Saudi activists
Al Jazeera, 01/01
A cross-party group of British parliamentarians and international lawyers has asked to visit detained female activists in Saudi Arabia to investigate allegations that they are being tortured and denied legal representation and family visits. Read more.