Posts Tagged ‘SAR’

Ahmadreza Djalali honored with 2021 Courage to Think Award

November 10, 2021

Scholars at Risk (SAR) announced on 9 November 2021 that Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali is the recipient of its Courage to Think Award for 2021. Dr. Djalali, a prominent scholar of disaster medicine sentenced to death in Iran, is being recognized for his struggle for academic freedom and connection to the international academic community. For more on the Courage to Think Award see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/165B4CC5-0BC2-4A77-B3B4-E26937BA553C.

Dr. Djalali’s wife, Vida Mehrannia, will accept the award on Dr. Djalali’s behalf at SAR’s virtual symposium, Free to Think 2021, on December 9. Information and registration for the free, online event is available here <https://www.scholarsatrisk.org/event/free-to-think-2021-and-courage-to-think-award/> .
Dr. Djalali is an Iranian-Swedish scholar who has held academic positions at Karolinska Institute, in Sweden; the Università del Piemonte Orientale, in Italy; and Vrije Universiteit Brussel, in Belgium. In December 2020, he was awarded a Scholars at Risk Fellowship at Harvard University, in the United States.
The continued imprisonment, extreme sentence, and mistreatment of Dr. Djalali in custody should be of grave concern for anyone who cares about the ability of scholars to work safely,” said Rob Quinn, executive director of SAR. “No scholar should face a death sentence, solitary confinement, and withholding of medical care for their academic or scientific work.
Not only has Dr. Djalali helped the development of the field of disaster medicine at higher education institutions, but he has also put his expertise into practice by supporting communities impacted by crises. Dr. Djalali provided medical aid, health services, and education to communities impacted by floods, earthquakes, and other disasters in Iran, including the 2003 Bam earthquake. While at the Center for Research and Training in Disaster Medicine, Humanitarian Aid, and Global Health (CRIMEDIM), in Italy, Dr. Djalali dedicated his research to resilience and performance of health systems, hospitals, and medical and rescue staff, and trained hundreds of humanitarian and medical staff around the world.
Dr. Djalali was arrested in April 2016 during a trip to Iran to participate in a series of academic workshops. It is strongly believed that he was targeted because of his ties to the international academic community, and the belief that he might trade his freedom in exchange for working for the Iranian intelligence service. On October 21, 2017, Dr. Djalali was sentenced to death for “corruption on earth,” based on unsubstantiated allegations that he had provided intelligence to a foreign government. Dr. Djalali was denied the right to appeal the conviction and sentence and has suffered from torture, ill-treatment, and a growing number of medical complications while in state custody.
On November 24, 2020, Iranian authorities moved Dr. Djalali to solitary confinement in preparation to carry out his death sentence. Dr. Djalali spent five nightmarish months in solitary confinement, awaiting imminent execution, until April 14, 2021, when authorities transferred him to a multiple-occupancy cell. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/11/26/as-iran-prepares-to-execute-ahmadreza-djalali-the-world-reacts/
For years, Dr. Djalali has been denied access to appropriate medical care for numerous health complications that worsened while he was in solitary confinement. These include leukemia, severe weight loss, chronic gastritis, low heart rate, and hypotension, gallstones, partial paralysis of the right foot, indirect inguinal hernia, hemorrhoid and fissures, low blood cell count, low levels of calcium and vitamin D, malnutrition, dyspepsia, and depression.
Authorities continue to deny Dr. Djalali access to his lawyer and his family in Iran, and from making calls to his wife and children in Sweden.

Human Rights Defender Rehana Hashmi Activist in Residence at Carleton

May 12, 2021

On 12 May 2021, Carleton University’s Department of Law and Legal Studies welcomed human rights advocate Rehana Hashmi as the inaugural Activist in Residence (AiR). Hashmi will teach students and provide them with access to her first-hand experience and an international perspective.

I didn’t choose to become an activist,” says Hashmi. “I was forced into activism at age seven when my father went to prison for speaking out against the dictatorship. See: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/01/14/rehana-hashmi-woman-human-rights-defender-from-pakistan/

“Carleton is one of the first in Canada to start this type of program to help protect human rights defenders. They can come, rest, reflect, recharge and do their work without being silenced.”

Building on the department’s successful participation in the Scholars at Risk initiative, the new AiR program provides a home base for human rights activists within an academic setting, particularly for those at-risk. Students and faculty will have the opportunity to learn from someone with personal, lived experience fighting to protect human rights.

As part of the AiR program, Hashmi is working on a series of video interviews with human rights defenders from around the world. “When they are in exile, there should be mechanisms to protect them,” says Hashmi. “The Activist in Residence program is one way to do this.”

Hashmi also teaches a fourth-year seminar on patriarchy, human rights and informal justice. Students learn how traditional patriarchal attitudes operate towards women and minorities seeking legal justice.

“Students in the course get to learn from many human rights defenders,” says Hashmi. “Through online learning, we have been able to bring in experts from around the world. Recently, mothers from Palestine and Israel presented in a JurisTalk about how they lost their children, but are still doing reconciliation work.

“Activists bring knowledge from the field to help students get a firsthand experience on how advocacy works. This knowledge narrows the gap between the Global North and Global South. Faculty and students benefit from stories from the field, but it also helps activists at-risk.”

After being exiled from her home city for her activist work, Hashmi became even more involved with activism, giving shelter to women who were beaten or had acid thrown on them. Through Sisters Trust Pakistan, Hashmi helped victims of domestic violence and women and girls to break free of religious fundamentalism and forced marriages. This was just one step in her journey to support and protect the vulnerable.

The challenges in Pakistan are more difficult for women like Hashmi who are fighting to defend human rights. Offenders target women’s children and extended families. Women can’t always leave when they are at-risk. They may have many obstacles including limited mobility, family and societal restrictions to consider

https://newsroom.carleton.ca/2021/carleton-welcomes-inaugural-activist-in-residence-rehana-hashmi-human-rights-defender/

Rahile Dawut recipient of Courage to Think Award 2020

November 11, 2020

Dr. Rahile Dawut, photo by Lisa Ross

On 10 November 2020 Scholars at Risk (SAR) announced that Dr. Rahile Dawut is the recipient of its Courage to Think Award for 2020. Dr. Dawut is being recognized for her own work, as well as that of all the scholars and students of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, who together struggle for academic freedom and freedom of opinion, expression, belief, association, and movement.

The award, which will be presented at SAR’s virtual conference Free to Think 2020: Responding to Attacks on Higher Education, will be accepted by Dr. Dawut’s daughter, Akeda Pulati. For more on the Courage to Think Award see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/award/165B4CC5-0BC2-4A77-B3B4-E26937BA553C.

Dr. Dawut is an Associate Professor in the Human Science Institute of Xinjiang University and founder of the Minorities Folklore Research Center in Xinjiang University. In December 2017, Dr. Dawut told a relative of her plans to travel from Urumqi to Beijing. Shortly thereafter, her family and friends lost contact with her. Professor Dawut’s disappearance was made public in August 2018. It is suspected that she is held by state authorities at an undisclosed location.

“My mother is a scholar, not a criminal,” said Akeda Pulati. “She studies the folklore and cultural traditions of minority populations. That is not a threat to the government, other institutions, or the people of China.”

The imprisonment of Dr. Dawut, an internationally recognized scholar of Uyghur culture, reveals the Chinese government’s blatant repression of voices and ideas it finds displeasing,” said Rob Quinn, executive director of SAR. “This constricts academic activity and public expression, threatening minority traditions, histories, and languages. The disappearance of Dr. Dawut, along with many thousands of others, is an atrocity we should all strive to end.”

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/04/16/turkeys-academics-for-peace-to-receive-2018-courage-to-think-defender-award/

The 2020 Courage to Think award will be presented during SAR’s virtual conference Free to Think 2020: Responding to Attacks on Higher Education on Thursday, November 19 at 11:00 am ET (3:00 pm GMT). There is no charge to attend. Register here.

Professor Kavous Seyed-Emami, Iranian environmentalist, dies in prison under suspicious circumstances

March 7, 2018

On 6 March, 2018 Scholars at Risk (SAR) reported the death in custody of Professor Kavous Seyed-Emami, a scholar of sociology and an environmentalist in Iran who was arrested in January 2018 on charges of espionage.

Professor Seyed-Emami was a professor of sociology at Imam Sadiq University and a co-founder of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation. A dual Canadian-Iranian national, he was an environmentalist who led camping trips for Iranian youth in his spare time. SAR understands that, on January 24, 2018, Iranian authorities arrested Professor Seyed-Emami, along with at least seven others, who Iranian authorities claimed were “collecting classified information about the country’s strategic areas under the guise of carrying out scientific and environmental projects.” The information released by authorities does not make clear what classified information Professor Seyed-Emami and others were alleged to have collected, who they were allegedly working for, or what evidence supports these allegations.

On February 9, authorities reportedly notified Professor Seyed-Emami’s wife of her husband’s death. The following day, authorities announced the arrests and Professor Seyed-Emami’s death, claiming it was a suicide. SAR understands that Professor Seyed-Emami’s family was pressured to bury him quickly. Human rights groups have called for an autopsy and investigation, pointing to the suspicious circumstances of his death. Professor Seyed-Emami’s death follows two other recent incidents in Evin Prison in which activists died and authorities later ruled their deaths suicides.

SAR demands an investigation of Professor Seyed-Emami’s deeply troubling death and generally that the ability of intellectuals in Iran to exercise their right to academic freedom be guaranteed. To join the action, follow the link below:

http://salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/50943/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=24470

See also my post: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/08/23/rouhanis-iran-disappoints-massively-on-human-rights/

Scholars campaign for Merera Gudina in Ethiopia who goes on trial Friday

March 3, 2017

Campaigns for individual human rights defenders are plenty especially from the well known human rights NGOs such as AI, HRW, Front Line and the Observatory. But here are specialized inter-professional groups such as Scholars at Risk (SAR) which regularly appeal for assistance for one of their members. Here the case of Dr. Merera Gudina in Ethiopia. A former professor of political science at Addis Ababa University, Dr. Gudina is expected to stand trial this Friday on charges stemming from his peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression and association.

On 1 December 2016, Ethiopian security officers arrested Dr. Gudina following his return from Belgium, where he addressed members of the European Union Parliament on alleged human rights violations and the current political crisis in Ethiopia. Ethiopian authorities placed Dr. Gudina in solitary confinement, and over two months later brought multiple charges against him, which apparently relate to his peaceful activism.

SAR calls for emails, letters, and faxes respectfully urging the authorities to release and drop all charges against Dr. Gudina; or, pending this, to ensure his well-being while in custody, including access to legal counsel and family, his removal from solitary confinement, and to ensure that his case proceeds in a manner consistent with Ethiopia’s obligations under international law, in particular internationally recognized standards of due process, fair trial, and free expression.

See also https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2013/02/12/scholars-at-risk-stellar-example-of-specialized-protection-tool-for-human-rights-defenders/

Take action by lending your voice to Dr. Gudina!

Scholars at Risk gives its “Courage to Think Defender Award” to Egypt’s detained scholars and students

June 9, 2016

Today, 9 June 2016, Egypt‘s wrongfully detained scholars and students received the 2016 Courage to Think Defender Award during the SAR Global Congress in Montreal, Canada. This is in recognition for their commitment to exercising the right to think, share and question ideas despite tremendous risks. SAR selected student representatives to accept the award in order to recognize their efforts to conduct research and advocacy on behalf of threatened scholars and students around the world. “The students are vital to raising awareness around cases of imprisoned scholars and students like these, and to promoting academic freedom globally and locally,” said Clare Robinson, Advocacy Director at SAR.

Over the past several years, SAR has observed an overwhelming crackdown on Egypt’s higher education community, including the reported use of violence, wrongful prosecutions and imprisonment, professional retaliation and travel restrictions against scholars and students across the country. According to data obtained by the Egyptian NGO, Association for Free Thought and Expression, over 2,000 university students and professors have been detained by security forces since July 2013.

SAR has presented the award only twice before, in 2011 to Aryeh Neier for his long career dedicated to free inquiry and expression including as the chair of the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch and the Open Society Foundations, and in 2015 to Dean Habib Kazdaghli of Manouba University in Tunisia for defending his university from extremist pressures after the Arab Spring, including in the face of prosecution and death threats.

[Scholars at Risk: Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of higher education institutions and individuals working to protect threatened scholars, promote academic freedom and prevent attacks on higher education communities around the world since 2000. SAR protects scholars suffering grave threats to their lives, liberty and well-being by arranging positions of sanctuary for those forced to flee, and advocating for scholars facing prosecution, imprisonment or other restrictions through the Scholars-in-Prison Project. SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project identifies and reports attacks on higher education to protect vulnerable scholars and students, hold perpetrators accountable and prevent future violations. Institutions or individuals interested in learning more about SAR and its activities should visit http://www.scholarsatrisk.org or email scholarsatrisk@nyu.edu]

see also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/06/23/scholars-at-risk-publishes-first-academic-freedom-monitoring-report-free2think/

Scholars at Risk publishes first Academic Freedom Monitoring Report: Free2Think

June 23, 2015

SAR Free to Think report

“Attacks on higher education are at crisis levels”

Today, 23 June 2015, Scholars at Risk [SAR] released the first report of its Academic Freedom Monitoring Project at the United Nations in Geneva,: “Free to Think”. The culmination of four years of monitoring and analysis by SAR staff and researchers around the world, the report analyzes 333 attacks on higher education communities in 65 countries from January 2011 to May 2015, demonstrating the pressing need to raise awareness and document attacks on higher education: Read the rest of this entry »

Scholars at Risk: stellar example of specialized protection tool for Human Rights Defenders

February 12, 2013

Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of over 300 universities and colleges in 34 countries dedicated to promoting academic freedom and its constituent freedoms of thought, opinion, expression, association and travel. Read the rest of this entry »