Academic Freedom Media Review

February 7 – 14, 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.

Scientists in Indonesia fear political interference
Dyna Rochmyaningsih, Science Magazine, 02/14
After living and working in Indonesia for about 15 years, French landscape ecologist David Gaveau suddenly left the country on 28 January. Indonesian immigration authorities had ordered Gaveau, a research associate with the Center for International Forestry Research in Bogor, on Java, to leave because of a visa violation. Read more.

Polish academics fear Catholic group’s role in ‘free speech’ law
John Morgan, Times Higher Education, 02/13
Polish academics have raised fears about government moves to create a committee to rule on alleged “freedom of speech” violations in universities, highlighting the involvement of a group of ultra-conservative Catholic lawyers in the proposed legislative changes. Read more.

Controlling Hong Kong HE is ‘top priority’ for China
Yojana Sharma, University World News, 02/12
Controlling the higher education sector in Hong Kong is a high priority, if not the top priority, of the Chinese government’s bid to step up authoritarian controls across different sectors of Hong Kong society, and must be seen in the context of China’s bid to spread its influence on campuses globally, says a group of Hong Kong scholars in a new report on academic freedom in Hong Kong. Read more.

‘Naked intimidation’: How universities silence academics on social media
Tess Reidy, The Guardian, 02/12
When Cardiff University PhD student Grace Krause began getting headaches and back pain after staring at a computer screen for days on end, she decided to speak out online. “Staff are marking hundreds of essays in an impossibly short time. It is exhausting. Everyone is in crisis mode. Stressed, moody, morose, everyone feels like they’re drowning,” she wrote on Twitter. Read more.

South Sudan academic suspended over opinion piece
Nyagoah Tut Pur, Human Rights Watch, 02/12
South Sudan’s University of Juba has suspended a renowned academic and writer from his teaching position over an opinion article on the issue of states and their boundaries – a controversial issue that has yet to be addressed by South Sudanese leaders before a unity government can be formed. Read more.

One academic per university at overseas conferences, says Brazil
Anna McKie, Times Higher Education, 02/11
Researchers in Brazil have expressed anger at an “unbelievable” government decree that limits the number of academics who may attend an international conference to just one per institution. Read more.

Students are the ‘backbone’ of Iraq anti-government protests
Linah Alsaafin, Al Jazeera, 02/10
Iraqi students in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square say they will remain at the sit-in until their demands have been answered. Inside one of a sea of tents in Tahrir Square, Sajjad Muyed and a group of his friends are sitting in a circle on thin mattresses, singing anti-government songs. Read more.

Egypt arrests, tortures human rights advocate: Rights group
Al Jazeera, 02/09
An Egyptian researcher and activist has been arrested at Cairo’s international airport upon his arrival from Italy. Patrick George Zaki, 27, had been in Bologna since August 2019 for his postgraduate studies and returned to Egypt’s capital for a brief family visit on Friday. Read more.