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: April 18, 2019

Attack Types: Imprisonment


Region & Country:Eastern Asia | China

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On April 18, 2019, police reportedly detained Guo Quan, a former associate professor at Nanjing Normal University, in apparent retaliation for his social media expression.

Guo, a scholar and a human rights activist, was arrested in 2008 and sentenced to ten years imprisonment for “subversion of state power,” in apparent connection with writings critical of the government. In November 2018, Guo was released from prison after serving his sentence; however, authorities ordered that Guo be “deprived of political rights” for up to three years.

Roughly five months after Guo’s release, police in Nanjing reportedly raided Guo’s home and detained him. Reports indicate that authorities ordered Guo detained in connection with his social media activity since his release from prison, including posts he authored that called for the Chinese government to release information about the Xiangshui chemical explosion on March 21, 2019, that left over seventy people dead.

While Guo was reportedly ordered detained for ten days, there is no public evidence suggesting that he has since been released.

Scholars at Risk is concerned by the arbitrary detention of a scholar in apparent retaliation for the nonviolent exercise of the right to freedom of expression — conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory. State authorities have an obligation to refrain from restricting or retaliating against such activity. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such incidents undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.