SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.


Attack Types


Date Range


Date of Incident: July 28, 2020

Region & Country:Eastern Asia | Hong Kong 

Institution(s):University of Hong Kong

On July 28, 2020, the University of Hong Kong’s (HKU) Council ordered the dismissal of Associate Professor of Law Benny Tai, in connection with his peaceful pro-democracy activism. Tai has come under fire for his active role in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy ...

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Date of Incident: July 13, 2020

Region & Country:Eastern Africa | Uganda

Institution(s):Makerere University

On July 13, 2020, police arrested prominent scholar-activist, Stella Nyanzi, and two Makerere University students during a protest over the apparent killing of a university student. Nyanzi and the two students, whose names were not disclosed, reportedly marched to Parliament in ...

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Date of Incident: July 09, 2020

Region & Country:Western Asia | Palestine (OPT)

Institution(s):Birzeit University

On July 9, 2020, Israeli Defense Forces reportedly detained Ruba Assi, a student at Birzeit University, during an overnight raid on her home in Ramallah. Few details are available regarding Assi’s detention. Authorities report Israeli authorities conducted a number of raids ...

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Date of Incident: July 06, 2020

Region & Country:Western Asia | Iraq


On July 6, 2020, unidentified gunmen assassinated Dr. Hisham al-Hashemi, a prominent historian, journalist, and security analyst. A group of three gunmen riding on motorcycles reportedly fired multiple times at Hashemi outside his home in Baghdad. Hashemi (also written as “Hashimi”) ...

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Date of Incident: July 06, 2020

Region & Country:Eastern Asia | China

Institution(s):Tsinghua University

On July 6, 2020, Chinese authorities reportedly detained Xu Zhangrun, a legal scholar at Tsinghua University, in apparent connection with his public criticism of the government. As many as twenty police officers detained Xu at his home in Changping, on the ...

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Date of Incident: June 30, 2020

Region & Country:Western Asia | Turkey

Institution(s):Istanbul Sehir University

On June 30, 2020, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a decree effectively closing Istanbul Sehir University, an institution established by former Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. The decision to close the university followed the apparent deterioration of the relationship ...

Attack Types: Other

Date of Incident: June 24, 2020

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Pakistan

Institution(s):Various Institutions

On June 24, 2020, police reportedly beat and arrested dozens of students in the Balochistan province during a nonviolent protest demanding internet access needed for online classes.  Balochistan, the westernmost province of Pakistan, is majority ethnically Baloch and Pashtun. In recent ...

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances | Imprisonment

Date of Incident: June 23, 2020

Region & Country:Europe | United Kingdom

Institution(s):University of Cambridge

On June 23, 2020, University of Cambridge professor Priyamvada Gopal became the target of death threats and harassment over social media following a Twitter post. On June 23, in response to recent global protests in support of racial equality, Gopal, a ...

Attack Types: Other

Date of Incident: June 22, 2020

Region & Country:Southern Asia | India

Institution(s):Delhi University

On June 22, 2020, police briefly detained eight University of Delhi students and faculty members participating in a peaceful campus protest. At least ten students and faculty members protested outside the vice-chancellor’s office, denouncing a decision by the university to hold ...

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Date of Incident: June 18, 2020

Region & Country:Western Africa | Nigeria

Institution(s):Various Institutions

On June 18, 2020, police reportedly arrested students from various universities in Katsina during a protest over security concerns. In the past year, armed bandits and gangs have reportedly killed hundreds of people and robbed and kidnapped dozens in the northwestern ...

Attack Types: Imprisonment | Prosecution