Academic Freedom Media Review

July 6 – 12, 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.

Israel blocks international academics in West Bank, Gaza
Brendan O’Malley, University World News, 07/11
Two NGOs have accused Israel of preventing international academics from working at universities in Occupied Palestinian Territory by preventing them from entering the country and refusing to renew visas for those with teaching contracts in the West Bank and Gaza. The NGOs, Adalah and Al-Haq, have launched a campaign with Birzeit University to end the “escalating discriminatory Israeli policy.” Read more.

Keep the fume hoods going
Rachel Brazil, Chemistry World, 07/11
For chemists in politically and economically unstable countries, life is a struggle. Working with few resources and little funding, often against a backdrop of protests, even the basics of daily life can be hard. On top of this, international sanctions designed to pressure, restrict or penalise their governments hamper scientists’ work and cut them off from the wider chemistry community. Read more.

Iran: Urgent medical treatment needed for detainees with life-threatening conditions – UN experts
OHCHR, 07/10
UN human rights experts today expressed serious concern that Iran continues to deny appropriate healthcare to detainees, despite repeated calls. “Over several months we have communicated to the Iranian Government our deep concerns about the physical and mental integrity of detainees,” the experts said. “Despite Government assurances, we are frustrated to still receive reports of denial of medical treatment, including in life-threatening situations. These no longer appear to be isolated incidents, but a consistent pattern.” Read more.

SAR Spotlight on Mayda Hočevar
Scholars at Risk, 07/09
In this SAR Spotlight, we spoke with Professor Mayda Hočevar about how current humanitarian and political crises are impacting the quality of higher education in Venezuela and recent efforts to advocate for academic freedom and institutional autonomy in Latin America. Read more.

Hungarian government takes control of research institutes despite outcry
Alison Abbott, Nature, 07/08
After months of struggle between Hungary’s research ministry and its scientific community, the nation’s parliament ratified a law on 2 July that gives the government control over the 40 or so institutes belonging to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (HAS). The international scientific community continues to protest against the takeover, saying it will harm science. Read more.

Time to talk, Hong Kong university leaders tell combatants
John Ross, Times Higher Education, 07/08
Hong Kong university leaders have assumed the peacemaker’s role amid failed efforts to orchestrate talks between the troubled territory’s opposing parties. In an open letter, Chinese University of Hong Kong president Rocky Tuan warned of dire consequences unless a new forum was created to facilitate “constructive and effective dialogues between the government and citizens from different age groups, social backgrounds and political persuasions”. Read more.

Turkey’s crackdown on academics represses history once again
Brennan Cusack, The New York Times, 07/08
For the past two decades, the Turkish academic Ayse Gul Altinay has been providing, through her writing and research, incisive analysis of the impact of violence on her country. Her work offered a better understanding of how conflict has passed through generations and was beginning to build a blueprint on how to break this cycle. But last May, the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sentenced Ms. Altinay, a professor of anthropology and director of Sabanci University Gender and Women’s Studies Center of Excellence, to 25 months in prison. Read more.

Turkey crackdown ‘will have knock-on effect’ for research quality
Simon Baker, Times Higher Education, 07/07
Turkey’s higher education system is close to a point where “bad science” is driving out “good science” owing to the “atmosphere of fear” that has descended on the country’s universities in the wake of a crackdown on academics. That is the view of one scholar, who believes that events in the past few years have tipped research incentives against “creative” and “critical” scholarship, with major implications for future research quality. Read more.