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: October 04, 2022

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances


Region & Country:Western Asia | Iraq

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On October 4, 2022, unidentified assailants shot and killed Nagihan Akarsel, a well-known Kurdish academic, journalist, and women’s rights activist, outside her home in Sulaymaniyah.

Akarsel was a prominent scholar and the current editor of the feminist sociology journal Jineolojî, which means “women’s science” and named after a form of feminism established within the Kurdish political movement.

According to media reports, the killing of Akarsel fits a recent pattern of assassination of activists and scholars in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

Scholars at Risk is gravely concerned about the targeted killing of a researcher and sends condolences to Ms. Akarsel’s family, colleagues, and community. Authorities should take reasonable steps to prevent and respond to such attacks, including by investigating and holding perpetrators responsible, in accordance with international human rights standards. In addition to the harm to the victims, lethal violence of a university researcher undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.