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.

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Date of Incident: May 18, 2020

Region & Country:Eastern Africa | Uganda

Institution(s):Unaffiliated

On May 18, 2020, police reportedly arrested scholar-activist Stella Nyanzi during a protest over the government’s handling of the global coronavirus pandemic known as COVID-19. Nyanzi is a prominent anthropologist and activist known for her advocacy on behalf of women and ...

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Date of Incident: May 12, 2020

Region & Country:Americas | United States of America

Institution(s):California Polytechnic State University

On May 12, 2020, a group of unidentified individuals interrupted a virtual meeting for the Chinese Students’ Association (CSA) at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) with racist and homophobic images and slurs. Starting in early March 2020, higher education institutions ...

Attack Types: Other

Date of Incident: May 10, 2020

Region & Country:Eastern Asia | China

Institution(s):Unaffiliated

On May 10, 2020, Chinese authorities reportedly detained legal scholar Zhang Xuezhong, in apparent retaliation for an open letter he published that criticized China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) and the country's system of government more broadly. Zhang is a prominent intellectual ...

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Date of Incident: May 09, 2020

Region & Country:Americas | United States of America

Institution(s):Oklahoma City University

On May 9, 2020, unidentified individuals reportedly interrupted Oklahoma City University’s virtual graduation ceremony, broadcast over Zoom, with a series of racist messages. Starting in early March 2020, higher education institutions across the US suspended in-person classes and campus activities, moving ...

Attack Types: Other

Date of Incident: May 01, 2020

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Iran

Institution(s):University of Tehran

On May 1, 2020, it was reported that Mostafa Hashemizadeh, a civil engineering student at the University of Tehran (UT), was sentenced to six years in prison for his alleged participation in a protest over the Iranian government’s role in ...

Attack Types: Imprisonment | Prosecution

Date of Incident: April 29, 2020

Region & Country:Western Africa | Nigeria

Institution(s):Akwa Ibom State University

On April 29, 2020, police reportedly arrested a professor and an administrative staffer from Akwa Ibom State University (AKSU) for public comments regarding the administration of the university. National and regional media outlets reported that Eyo Eminue, a political science lecturer, ...

Attack Types: Imprisonment | Prosecution

Date of Incident: April 28, 2020

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Iran

Institution(s):University of Tehran

On April 28, 2020, it was reported that Amir Mohammad Sharifi, a student at the University of Tehran (UT), was sentenced to three months in prison for nonviolent expressive activity, including his alleged participation in protests over the Iranian government’s ...

Attack Types: Imprisonment | Prosecution

Date of Incident: April 28, 2020

Region & Country:Western Asia | Yemen

Institution(s):Dhamar University

On April 28, 2020, Houthi militia forces reportedly detained at least twenty students from Dhamar University for undisclosed reasons. There are few details regarding the detentions as of this report. Available sources indicate that Houthi soldiers had kidnapped the students, whose ...

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Date of Incident: April 24, 2020

Region & Country:Americas | United States of America

Institution(s):University of South Carolina

On April 24, 2020, unidentified individuals reportedly interrupted a virtual event for the Association of African American Students at the University of South Carolina by sending racist messages. Starting in early March 2020, higher education institutions across the US suspended in-person ...

Attack Types: Other

Date of Incident: April 21, 2020

Region & Country:Southeastern Asia | Indonesia

Institution(s):Syiah Kuala University

On April 21, 2020, Indonesia’s Banda Aceh state court convicted Syiah Kuala University (Unsyiah) lecturer Saiful Mahdi in connection with online expression critical of the university. The court sentenced Mahdi to three months imprisonment and issued a fine of ten ...

Attack Types: Prosecution