Academic Freedom Media Review

March 16 – 22, 2019

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.

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.