Academic Freedom Media Review

December 9 – 15, 2017

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.

Universities alarmed new treason laws could target academics
Primrose Riordan, The Australian, 12/15
Universities are alarmed that academics receiving foreign cash could be targeted by the new treason laws and are seeking urgent assurances from the government. Read more.

Activism lands Stony Brook professor Patrice Nganang in jail
Mark Chiusano, AM New York, 12/13
The Stony Brook professor finally got word back to his university. He wanted to tell his students that unfortunately their recommendation letters would be delayed. He had been jailed in his native Cameroon — partially because of a Facebook post. Read more.

Candidate for Hong Kong University vice-chancellor position urged to reveal stance on academic freedom
Karen Cheung, Hong Kong Free Press, 12/13
Education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen has urged the recommended candidate for Hong Kong University vice-chancellor to reveal his stance on academic freedom. Read more.

Narrowing the Terms of Tenure
Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed, 12/13
It’s hard to build faculty consensus on anything, but professors across Arkansas and colleagues elsewhere are speaking out against proposed changes to the University of Arkansas System’s personnel policies — changes they say would make them tenured or working toward tenure in name only. Read more.

Professor who says Sandy Hook was a hoax sued the university that fired him. A jury ruled against him.
Susan Svrluga, Washington Post, 12/12
A Florida jury this week rejected a professor’s claim that he lost his job and had his free speech rights trampled because he insists the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting was a hoax. Read more.

Scholar’s death sentence upheld as appeal ‘not filed’
Brendan O’Malley, University World News, 12/11
The imprisoned scholar, Dr Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian-born Swedish resident and specialist in emergency medicine, has been told by the court that his execution will go ahead because no appeal was submitted within the deadline. Read more.

In Turkey, academics asking for peace are accused of terrorism
Judith Butler and Başak Ertür, The Guardian, 12/11
Last week the trials began in Istanbul of those who signed the Academics for Peace petition in January 2016. A total of 148 trials are scheduled through to May 2018, with new trials expected to be announced in the near future. Read more.

Iran: Imprisoned Foreign Student Threatened
Human Rights Watch, 12/09
The Iranian authorities’ transfer of an imprisoned US doctoral student within Tehran’s Evin prison heightens fear for his safety, Human Rights Watch said today. Read more.

84-year-old Sulak Sivaraksa faces lese-majeste charges
Asian Tribune, 12/08*
Bangkok Military Court on Thursday delayed a decision on whether to prosecute a prominent historian and social critic 84-year-old Sulak Sivaraksa who suggested that a famed duel on elephant-back won by a Thai king against a Burmese prince 500 years ago may not actually have happened. Read more.

*Not featured in the December 8 edition of the Academic Freedom Media Review.