Academic Freedom Media Review

January 8 – 12, 2021

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.

EUROPE: EU human rights sanctions: Towards a European Magnitsky Act 
European Parliamentary Research Service, Policy Podcasts for European Parliament, 1/15  
The EU adopts restrictive measures – mostly in the form of travel bans and asset freezes – against individuals and organisations responsible for some of the worst human rights violations. Until now, the EU has mostly adopted sanctions targeted at individual countries. However, the EU is now shifting to a more thematic approach, under which sanctions focus on a particular type of problem rather than a country.  Read more.

TURKEY: Institutional Autonomy Under Threat
Scholars at Risk, 1/14
Scholars at Risk has joined international partners in endorsing a petition regarding recent events at Turkey’s Boğaziçi University. Read more.

GREECE: Greek police clash with protesters over campus police plan
AP via The San Francisco Chronicle, 1/14
Police have used tear gas to disperse crowds at a rally in Athens organized to protest plans to set up a state security division at university campuses. Read more.

IRAN: Further Information: Execution Risk for Iranian-Swedeish Academic: Ahmadreza Djalali 
Amnesty International, 1/13
Iranian-Swedish academic Ahmadreza Djalali has been held incommunicado in Tehran’s Evin prison since 24 November 2020, when he learned that his death sentence for “corruption on earth” (efsad-e fel-arz) was to be carried out imminently. In late December 2020, his family learned that Ahmadreza Djalali’s execution was halted for one month. He remains at risk of execution. Read more.

INDIA: Free Dr. GN Saibaba amidst growing concerns for his health
Scholars at Risk, 1/13
Scholars at Risk joins Freedom Now, PEN International, and International Solidarity for Academic Freedom in India in calling on Indian authorities to ensure the release of Professor Gokarakonda Naga Saibaba amidst growing concerns for his health and well-being. Read more.

UNITED STATES: Foreign Students Allege Forced Labor, Trafficking at College
Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Ed, 1/13
Foreign students at Western Iowa Tech Community College filed suit against the institution, alleging they came to the U.S. with promises of scholarships and professional internships only to be coerced into menial jobs with long hours and low pay. Read more.

UNITED STATES: Ole Miss Doubles Down on Professor’s Termination
Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed, 1/12
The University of Mississippi is moving ahead with its termination of Garrett Felber, assistant professor of history, its provost said in a formal response to the American Historical Association. The group inquired about Felber’s controversial termination, which many of his supporters have called politically motivated or retaliatory, given that his primary offense is insisting on emailing with his department chair during his research leave instead of videochatting with her. Read more.

TURKEY: Plagiarism questions swirl around controversial Turkish rector
David Matthews, Times Higher Education, 1/11
A Turkish rector with close ties to the country’s ruling party, whose appointment has sparked days of protest from staff and students, was under scrutiny from two journals after critics accused him of multiple counts of plagiarism. Read more.

CHINA / HONG KONG: Hong Kong university denies gutting China studies centre
South China Morning Post via University World News, 1/10
The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has denied that folding the Universities Service Centre for China Studies (USC) – established by one of the most respected China scholars in the West, Jerome Cohen – into the main library amounts to gutting the nearly 60-year-old institution, writes Phila Siu for the South China Morning Post. Read more.

UNITED STATES: Ed Secretary quits, HE leaders decry attack on US Capitol
Brendan O’Malley, University World News, 1/8
The United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has resigned and US higher education leaders have reacted with horror and condemnation to the mob riot on Wednesday 6 January which breached the US Capitol, where Congressmen were meeting to certify the presidential election results, forcing them to run to shelter in fear of their lives. Read more.

GLOBAL: Does WTO Law Protect Academic Freedom? It Depends on How You Use It 
Csongor István Nagy, American Society of International Law, 1/6 
An examination of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) landmark judgment in the history of European constitutionalism, Commission v. Hungary (CEU), and the utility of the World Trade Organization in the context of academic freedom. Read more.

GLOBAL: Politicised COVID-19 responses undermine trust in science
Mark Paterson, University World News, 1/6
Concerns have mounted across Africa, Europe and Asia that scientists advising on the spread of COVID-19 are being compromised by close relationships with their governments as second waves of the outbreak peak around the world – and death tolls keep rising as a result. Read more.