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.

Date of Incident: November 07, 2017

Attack Types: Other

Institution(s):North South University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Bangladesh

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On November 7, 2017, Mubashar Hasan, a journalist and assistant professor of political science at Bangladesh’s North South University (NSU), reportedly went missing against the backdrop of a spike in kidnappings of journalists, politicians, and business figures. 

Professor Hasan, who is known for his research on Islamic extremism in Bangladesh, has been a professor at NSU since September 2016. He previously served as a fellow with the RESOLVE Network, which conducts research and policy work around violent extremism. 

Starting in August 2017, a growing number of public figures in Bangladesh’s media sector and politics reportedly have gone missing; only a few have been found. Beginning around the time these incidents began, Professor Hasan has alleged that unidentified men, claiming to be students, have come looking for him at his home while he was not there; he later installed security cameras out of fear. He was seen exiting the university at around 4:30 pm on November 7, 2017. According to his father, Professor Hasan had called him just before leaving campus to say that he would return home shortly. He has not been seen or heard from since. As of this report, a police investigation is underway.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the apparent kidnapping of a scholar in apparent retaliation for the peaceful exercise of the rights to academic freedom and freedom of expression. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and democratic society generally. State and local officials have a responsibility to ensure the security of higher education communities, to prevent future attacks, and to hold perpetrators accountable.

UPDATE: On December 22, 2017, Professor Hasan returned home after being missing for more than six weeks. According to his family and police, Professor Hasan’s captors left him blindfolded on the side of a highway in Dhaka and told him that they would shoot him if he turned back. Professor Hasan was unable to identify his captors. Police officials reportedly will not investigate the incident until Professor Hasan files a case; he has declined to do so.