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: June 20, 2020

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):Forman Christian College

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Pakistan

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On June 20, 2020, it was reported that Forman Christian College (FCC) changed Ammar Ali Jan’s position from Assistant Professor to visiting faculty, in apparent retaliation for his nonviolent activism. Shortly afterward, Jan resigned from FCC.

On December 1, 2019, a first information report (FIR) was filed against Jan, accusing him of “sedition” for his participation in a “Student Solidarity March” on November 29 (see report). The sedition case against Jan is reportedly still pending. On February 9, 2019, police arrested Jan during a raid on his home, based on accusations that he led a student protest over the death of Dr. Arman Loni, a Pashtun scholar who was killed by police (see report).

In an interview with Deutsche Welle, Jan stated that following the sedition case, FCC warned that he should not speak publicly on such matters, or that he would face reprisal. In a post published on Twitter on June 20, 2020, Jan wrote that his contract was changed from assistant professor to visiting faculty. Jan also wrote that he was told to stay silent or leave FCC, and decided to resign.

Following Jan’s June 20 Twitter post, several other academics were similarly forced to resign or dismissed for their nonviolent expressive activity.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about disciplinary measures against a scholar, in apparent retaliation for the peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and freedom of association — 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 Pakistan is a party. University authorities should refrain from retaliating against expressive activity, so long as it is undertaken peacefully and responsibly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, disciplinary measures aimed at restricting or retaliating against such activity undermine academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.