Academic Freedom Media Review

January 18 – 24, 2020

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.

Unless otherwise indicated (such as in articles written by SAR), the language and views contained in the reports below reflect those of the originating author and/or publication and do not necessarily represent the views of Scholars at Risk or its members, affiliates, board or staff. Subscribe to SAR’s media review.

Campus attack and police violence alarm Indian academics
Sanjay Kumar, Science Magazine, 01/24
A controversial citizenship bill that became law on 12 January has led many in India’s scientific establishment, traditionally apolitical, to speak out. But the response has been fierce. In December 2019, police brutally suppressed protests at two predominantly Muslim universities, and on 5 January, masked intruders armed with iron rods, stones, and sticks beat and terrorized students and teachers at Jawaharlal Nehru University, a liberal bastion where students were on strike against the bill and a steep hike in student fees. Read more.

Iraqi government pressures protesting students to return to the classroom
Gilgamesh Nabeel, Al-Fanar Media, 01/24
Iraqi students have become a focus of the government’s efforts to snuff out the protests that have largely paralyzed that country since the end of October. Read more.

Merkel reminds Erdogan about scientific freedom (German)
Amory Burchard, Der Tagesspiegel, 01/24
Chancellor Angela Merkel called for more social freedom, especially at universities and in research, during a visit to Turkey. “The greater the degree of scientific freedom, the greater the scientific output,” said Merkel on Friday in Istanbul at the opening of the Turkish-German University campus with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Read more.

Iranian student denied entry to U.S.
Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Ed, 01/22
The student was bound for study at Northeastern University but was sent back after arriving in Boston. He’s the latest in what experts say has been a troubling number of cases of Iranians being turned back despite having valid student visas. Read more.

University of Maryland cuts China-supported education program amid tensions between countries
Phil Davis, The Baltimore Sun, 01/22
The University of Maryland, College Park has ended a Chinese-government approved education program after Congress passed legislation that the university said could jeopardize future federal funding if the program were to continue. Read more.

‘Harmony,’ not censorship: Students and faculty at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics have been told to cease ‘divisive’ political activism or find another university
Irina Kravtsova, Meduza, 01/21
On January 17, the administration at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics — one of the best universities in Russia — published amendments to its internal regulations on students and instructors. Following the changes, individuals affiliated with the university are now prohibited from mentioning their connection to the school when discussing political issues or taking part in “socially divisive” activities. Read more.

Chinese universities are enshrining Communist Party control in their charters
Emily Feng and Amy Cheng, NPR, 01/20
It wasn’t just the fact that one of China’s best universities had changed its charter last December to emphasize loyalty to the ruling Communist Party that raised eyebrows. Shanghai’s Fudan University also deleted principles like freedom of thought, and did so publicly, as if expecting praise. Read more.

Famous Pakistani rights defender detained for hours
Ayesha Tanzeem, Voice of America, 01/20
Authorities in Pakistan detained a human rights defender for seven hours at an airport as she tried to take a flight from Pakistan’s second largest city Lahore to the United Kingdom. Activist and human rights lawyer Jalila Haider was on her way to attend a workshop on feminism in the University of Sussex when she was told that her name was on a no-fly list for alleged “anti-state activities.” Read more.