Academic Freedom Media Review

November 13 – November 19, 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.

HONG KONG: Police start ‘national security’ probe of campus protest
Mimi Leung and Yojana Sharma, University World News, 11/19
Chinese University of Hong Kong – scene of violent battles between student protesters and police a year ago this month – called the police to campus on Thursday over what it called an “unauthorised demonstration and procession” by graduating students. Read more.

GLOBAL: Pandemic used as ‘cover to punish free inquiry’
Pola Lem, Research, 11/19
The global network Scholars at Risk has said attacks on higher education have continued “unabated” during the global pandemic. Read more.

EGYPT: Rights group director latest in chain of Egypt arrests
AP / The San Francisco Chronicle, 11/19
An Egyptian rights group said Thursday that its director has been arrested days after two of its other employees were taken into custody. The arrests of the rights workers comes after they met with envoys from Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and other countries this month. In the meeting they discussed ways to improve Egypt’s human rights record, according to the group. Read more.

GLOBAL: Covid ‘reveals new vulnerabilities’ in academic freedom 
Joyce Lau, Times Higher Education, 11/18
Covid’s global onset early this year caused a dramatic change in the “patterns of attacks” on academic freedom, according to a report. “The crisis revealed new vulnerabilities within higher education”, such as an increase in online disruptions, says the annual Free to Think report published by Scholars at Risk (SAR). Read more.

GLOBAL: Free to Think 2020: Attacks on higher education continue unabated in the COVID-19 era
Scholars at Risk, 11/18
Scholars at Risk (SAR) calls on the international community to take action to protect academic freedom in Free to Think 2020, a report released today. The report analyzes 341 attacks on higher education communities in 58 countries between September 1, 2019 and August 31, 2020. Read more.

BELARUS: Call to action in support of scholars and students in Belarus
Scholars at Risk, 11/16
Scholars at Risk is deeply concerned about the harassment, intimidation, detention, fines, arrest, and expulsion of students and scholars in Belarus, in apparent retaliation for the nonviolent exercise of the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, following peaceful protests in the aftermath of the country’s recent presidential elections. Read more.

BRAZIL: Rise in threats to university autonomy, academic freedom
Marcelo Knobel and Fernanda Leal, University World News, 11/14
This piece discusses “a chronology of tragedies”, a summary of events that have taken place in Brazilian higher education since September 2019. These events reveal the ways federal policies have continued to threaten university autonomy, even when the public higher education sector has proven to be fundamental to fighting the current COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.

UK: Academics back refusing funding over human rights concerns
Ellie Bothwell, Times Higher Education, 11/13
The majority of UK social scientists believe that academic freedom is under threat and are in favour of universities refusing funding from foreign organisations with a poor human rights record, according to a study. Read more.

SAUDI ARABIA: 20 Saudi Voices the Regime Has Attempted to Silence
PEN America, 11/11
This year’s G20 summit is hosted by Saudi Arabia, which has waged a vast campaign to gloss over its egregious human rights violations and attempts to silence and imprison writers, activists, and other dissidents who have spoken out against the government’s abuses.Read more.