Posts Tagged ‘Scholars at Risk’

As Iran prepares to execute Ahmadreza Djalali, the world reacts

November 26, 2020

Around the world, shock and outrage has been the reaction to the news that Iran is preparing to execute Swedish-Iranian emergency medicine specialist Dr Ahmadreza Djalali. In a call from Evin Prison on 24 November, Ahmadreza told his wife Vida, who lives in Sweden, that he believed he may be executed in less than a week. He has been transferred into solitary confinement and it has been reported that he will shortly be sent to Rajai Shahr Prison where this draconian death sentence would be delivered.

Dr Djalali has been used as a bargaining chip as part of Iran’s hostage diplomacy. A dual national, illegally detained in solitary confinement with no access to a lawyer before being sentenced to death in October 2017. The court based their sentence for “corruption on earth” on “confessions” elicited after torture, threats to kill Ahmadreza Djalali’s wife and two young children, solitary confinement and his prolonged ill treatment.

The UN, EU, Council of Europe, European governments, worldwide academic institutions, civil society and thousands of individuals have all called for Dr Djalali’s release.

UN experts Javaid Rehman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran and Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions issued a statement saying: “We are horrified by the reports that Mr. Djalali is soon to be executed by the Islamic Republic of Iran. His torture, arbitrary detention, death sentence and now reported imminent execution are unconscionable acts that should be condemned by the international community in the strongest terms. We urge the Iranian authorities to take immediate action to reverse this decision before it is too late.

Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Diana Eltahawy, said:

“We call on members of the international community to immediately intervene, including through their embassies in Tehran, to save Ahmadreza Djalali’s life before it is too late.”

Valerie Peay, Director of the International Observatory of Human Rights said: “We stand in support of Dr Djalali and his family. Ahmadreza has already suffered gross injustice, pain and the cruel separation from his wife and two children. For three years he has faced a baseless death sentence while Iran has used him as a bargaining chip and sought to gain leverage with the international community by unjustly incarcerating Dr Djalali and other dual nationals. Now is the moment for the Islamic Republic to act to cease this action to execute Dr Djalali and instead, release him to return his life in Sweden with his family.

https://researchprofessionalnews.com/rr-news-europe-universities-2020-11-academic-groups-sound-alarm-over-djalali-death-sentence/embed/#?secret=xEX33rLMOr

Virtual Side Event on Freedom of Opinion and Expression and Academic Freedom today 9:00-10:00 EST in New York

October 21, 2020

Co-organizers:

●UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression

●Permanent Mission of Finland to the UN

●Permanent Mission of the State of Qatar to the UN

●Open Society Foundations’ Education Program

●Scholars at Risk

Context: On Friday 23 October 2020 the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly will consider the report on academic freedom presented by the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. The report focuses on the ways in which the freedom of opinion and expression protect and promote academic freedom, and the special role played by academics and academic institutions in democratic society when assured of institutional autonomy and self-governance. Without academic freedom, societies lose their capacity for self-reflection, for knowledge generation and for a constant search for improvements of people’s lives and social conditions. Drawing on examples from all regions of the world, the report highlights the repression and harassment of scholars and students, unlawful restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression that interfere with research, teaching, debate and discussion by the academic community in their institutions or in other fora, and various measures, from funding of research to hiring of professors and administrators, that are used to erode and attack the autonomy of academic institutions.The report provides clear guidance on the scope of academic freedom, recognizing that it is protected by a wide range of human rights norms and principles, including the right to freedom of opinion and expression. It encourages individuals and organizations to articulate their claims as violations of academic freedom, and concludes with a set of recommendations to States, academic institutions and civil society. The side event is aimed at discussing how the report’s findings and recommendations can be used to ensure the realization of the freedom of opinion and expression to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers as an integral aspect of academic freedom and enhance the ability of academics and institutions to contribute to democracy and development around the world.Objectives

This side event will provide a forum to discuss the challenges to academic freedom, including social harassment and political repression of scholars, students, and institutions around the globe, as well as legal protections offered by international human rights law, including in particular the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and how the report’s analysis and recommendations can be used to protect the freedom of opinion and expression aspects of academic freedom worldwide.Modalities.

The one-hour moderated discussion will have the following format:

Opening remarks: H.E. Sheikha Alya Ahmed bin Saif Al-ThaniPermanent Representative of Qatar to the United Nations and H.E. Juan Ramon de la Fuente Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United Nations

Ms. Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

Presentation of the main findings and recommendations of the report Prof. David Kaye, former Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

Panel discussion:

●Ms. Camilla Croso, Director of the Education Program of the Open Society Foundations, will highlight the role of academic freedom and its importance in advancing open and democratic societies

●Dr. Maleiha Malik, Executive Director, Protection of Education in Insecurity and Conflict, Education Above All Foundation, will discuss the particular challenges to academic freedom in countries affected by conflict

●Mr. Robert Quinn, founding Executive Director of the Scholars at Risk Network, will describe some current legal challenges and responses to pressures on academic freedom around the world

Concluding remarks: Ms. Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur.

New tool in higher education: worldwide Academic Freedom Index (AFi)

April 17, 2020

On 26 March 2010 the Global Public Policy Institute and Scholars at Risk introduced the Academic Freedom Index (AFi), a new time series and near-global dataset on several dimensions of academic freedom. It calls on decision-makers in higher education and foreign policy, university administrations, research funding organizations, advocacy groups, and parliaments to use AFi data to better protect and promote academic freedom. It also includes recommendations for scholars and students.

The AFi aims to inform stakeholders, provide monitoring yardsticks, alter incentive structures, challenge university rankings, facilitate research, and ultimately promote academic freedom. It is the result of a collaborative effort between researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) and the V-Dem Institute, the Scholars at Risk Network, and the Global Public Policy Institute. AFi scores are based on expert assessments by 1,810 scholars around the world which are integrated in a Bayesian measurement model.

The data is publicly available on V‑Dem’s website. V-Dem also provides an online tool that can be used to analyze any of the indicators.

The full report as well as a working paper are available for download.

See also, from 2015: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/06/23/scholars-at-risk-publishes-first-academic-freedom-monitoring-report-free2think/

Free Universities: Putting the Academic Freedom Index Into Action

Scholars at Risk has a number of vacancies

October 6, 2019

Scholars at Risk is staffed by a team of professionals with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. Take a look at the available positions listed below and apply as soon as possible, as positions are filled on a rolling basis. If you have an interest in volunteering or offering pro-bono services to SAR, please email them at scholarsatrisk@nyu.edu with a short proposal and a copy of your resume or CV.

Scholars at Risk (SAR) is seeking a highly-organized and team-oriented individual to join the SAR team as a grants associate/officer. Position summary This is new position will support SAR’s program and fundraising efforts by providing primary drafting and reporting on

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Scholars at Risk (SAR) seeks a Department Administrator to manage a variety of administrative and business processes and operations in support of SAR’s efforts to protect scholars and promote academic freedoms worldwide and to ensure the effective delivery of services

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Scholars at Risk (SAR) is seeking a highly-motivated, detail-focused, flexible and team-oriented individual to manage planning, delivery and follow-up to the 2020 SAR Global Congress, a large-scale, multi-institution biennial event that brings together up to 300 representatives of SAR network

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Scholars at Risk (SAR) seeks a Deputy Director (DD) to have overall responsibility for SAR’s day-to-day programming, internal operations, and administration. POSITION SUMMARY Reporting to the Executive Director (ED), the DD supports the Executive Director and the SAR Board, promoting

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Scholars at Risk (SAR) seeks a dedicated, detail-oriented intern with excellent writing and research skills to join SAR’s Advocacy team for Spring 2020. This intern may be based in SAR’s New York City office or based remotely. This position reports

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InSPIREurope: new EU-Funded Initiative to Support Researchers at Risk to be launched in September

July 11, 2019

Ten European partner organizations announce an ambitious new initiative to be launched this September to support researchers at risk. The initiative – InSPIREurope – is a ten-partner project funded under the European Commission’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and coordinated by Scholars at Risk Europe at Maynooth University, Ireland.

InSPIREurope will forge a coordinated, cross-sectoral, Europe-wide alliance for researchers at risk. InSPIREurope project partners include: Scholars at Risk Europe, hosted at Maynooth University, Ireland (Project Coordinator) • Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung, Germany • European University Association • Jagiellonian University, Poland • University of Oslo, Norway • University of Gothenburg, Sweden • PAUSE program, hosted by the Collège de France • Stichting voor Vluchteling-Studenten UAF, Netherlands • Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece • Scholz CTC GmbH, Germany.

InSPIREurope begins from the view that excellence in research depends upon open scientific debate, and is driven by a multiplicity of ideas, cultures, people, and perspectives. When researchers are at risk and excluded from participating in the global research circuit, whether due to discrimination, persecution, suffering, or violence, not only are individual lives and careers at risk; the quality, the very future of research is also at stake. With record numbers of researchers at risk reaching out, there is no one country, government, NGO, or enterprise that can meet the scope of the challenge alone; an ambitious and concerted approach is required. Toward this goal, and in recognition of a shared commitment to excellence in research and to the principles of freedom of inquiry and academic freedom that are essential pre-conditions for world-class research, the InSPIREurope project will facilitate transnational cooperation between European and national initiatives and programs in support of researchers at risk. Further information, including project webpages, will be available when the project begins in September.

Scholars at Risk supports photojournalist Dr. Shahidul Alam in Bangladesh

December 5, 2018

On 5 December 2018 Scholars at Risk expressed concern about the charges against Shahidul Alam, an intellectual and acclaimed photojournalist, who was just released on bail after over one hundred days in prison in apparent retaliation for his public comments on the widespread student protests in Bangladesh.

Dr. Alam is a world-renowned photographer and visiting professor at Sunderland University who has established notable photography and media institutions in Bangladesh, including the Drik Gallery, the Pathshala South Asian Media Academy, and Majority World. He is well-known for photographing significant political moments in Bangladesh since the 1980s.

On August 5, 2018, Dr. Alam spoke on Facebook Live and Al Jazeera about the ongoing student protests in Bangladesh that sought safer roads, following an incident in which a speeding bus killed two college students. Earlier that day, Dr. Alam was covering one of the protests when youth league members reportedly attacked him and a group of journalists. Referencing this incident, while speaking with Al Jazeera, Dr. Alam alleged that police hired armed individuals to violently attack student protesters. Hours after the interview, a group of thirty police officers reportedly raided Dr. Alam’s home, took him into custody, and interrogated him. They then charged him under section 57 of the International Communication and Technology Act (ICT Act) for electronically sharing material that “tends to deprave and corrupt” the public and causes “deterioration in law and order.” No evidence has been produced by the police in their investigation of Dr. Alam to support these charges.

On August 6, while police escorted Dr. Alam out of the Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s court following a hearing, Dr. Alam told reporters that police had beaten him while in custody. Dr. Alam received treatment at a hospital the following day by request of a court. On August 8, Dr. Alam was returned to jail and held for over one hundred days. On November 20, Dr. Alam was released on bail; however he still faces up to 14 years in prison based on charges under the ICT Act.

SAR asks for emails, letters, and faxes respectfully urging authorities to drop all charges against Dr. Alam that stem from his peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression; and, pending this, to ensure immediately his case is addressed in a manner consistent with internationally recognized standards of due process, fair trial, and detention, in accordance with Bangladesh’s obligations under international law.

On how to join the campaign see: http://salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/50943/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=25660

New free online course on how to use academic freedom

May 28, 2018

Scholars at Risk, the New-York based international network of institutions for protecting scholars and promoting academic freedom, and the University of Oslo, Norway, have jointly developed a free online course on how to use academic freedom to ask critical questions and contribute to a democratic society.

The course is aimed first at anyone in higher education – leadership, administrators, academic staff and students. Second, the course is aimed at anyone outside the sector who has an opinion about higher education, especially critical opinions.  You can register for the course through this link.

The course, ‘Dangerous questions: Why academic freedom matters’, will begin from 4 June and is available online on FutureLearn. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/06/23/scholars-at-risk-publishes-first-academic-freedom-monitoring-report-free2think/]

Quinn told University World News: “Higher education is undergoing historic transformation, and this adds confusion and puts pressure on academic freedom. The course aims to help members of the higher education sector better understand the values at the centre of higher education, and by doing so, offers a compass and a set of tools for navigating the current environment. “The course argues that higher education has an affirmative social responsibility – that is, the responsibility to use the freedom and autonomy afforded to it by the state and society for the widest public good….But meeting that responsibility can be dangerous or even very dangerous and that means the public also has an affirmative responsibility – to defend higher education leaders, scholars and students when they exercise freedom of inquiry and expression on the public’s behalf.”

Participants will learn how they can contribute to strengthening core higher education values at their home institution and in partnerships, and how to assess and react to incidents relating to the core higher education values.

The course will include videos, graphics, animations and interviews and enable participants from all over the world to talk to each other.

Beyond that, I think people will be surprised – academic freedom isn’t just for a few privileged intellectuals who want to be left alone. Academic freedom is an essential condition for free, open societies,” Quinn said. “If you value the freedom to have your own opinions, to ask questions, to discuss difficult topics honestly without fear, then academic freedom matters enormously to you too.”

http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20180526061403734

Turkey’s Academics for Peace to Receive 2018 Courage to Think Defender Award

April 16, 2018

On 16 April 2018 the NGO-network Scholars at Risk (SAR) announced that Turkey’s Academics for Peace is the recipient of its 2018 Courage to Think Defender Award, for their extraordinary efforts in building academic solidarity and in promoting the principles of academic freedom, freedom of inquiry, and the peaceful exchange of ideas. The award, which will be presented at the Scholars at Risk Network 2018 Global Congress, will be accepted on behalf of the group by Muzaffer Kaya, of Technische Universität Berlin, and Tebessüm Yılmaz, of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

Rose Anderson, SAR’s Director of Protection Services stated: “By connecting their threatened colleagues both inside and outside of Turkey to resources, opportunities, and support, they are working to ensure that Turkey’s vibrant higher education community can continue to pursue scholarship, and be free to think, question and share ideas. The solidarity of the Academics for Peace community is an inspiration for all of us who work on behalf of threatened scholars and academic freedom worldwide.”

Fo more on the SAR’s Courage to Think and other awards see: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/courage-to-think-award. For last year’s: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/06/09/scholars-at-risk-gives-its-courage-to-think-defender-award-to-egypts-detained-scholars-and-students/

For more information about the Courage to Think Award and the Global Congress, including registration information, the Congress program and speaker bios, visit https://www.con-gressa.de/gc2018.

https://www.scholarsatrisk.org/2018/04/2018-courage-to-think/

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/

Relief for threatened scholars: the Philipp Schwartz Initiative of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

May 10, 2017

Some support structures suffer from a lack of general knowledge. Here is one that I came across recently.

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH), in conjunction with the Scholars at Risk (SAR) Germany Section, convened the 3rd Workshop on the Philipp Schwartz Initiative (PSI) in Berlin, bringing together SAR staff, Philipp Schwartz Fellows, representatives of universities and research institutions in Germany supporting threatened scholars, and representatives from partner organizations.

As a part of AvH and supported by the German Federal Foreign Office and other private funders, the PSI provides universities and research institutions in Germany with the means to host at-risk foreign researchers with two-year, fully funded fellowships. Since the summer of 2016, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation has invited applications to the PSI on behalf of scholars regardless of country of origin, current location, or academic field, as long as a demonstrable threat can be confirmed. The PSI is currently sponsoring more than 60 researchers, 34 of whom are SAR scholars. This number will undoubtedly grow, as the PSI has recently confirmed funding for an additional 30 grants.  Applications in the context of the Philipp Schwartz Initiative cannot be submitted at this time. Applicants in the 3rd round will be informed of the outcome by 30 June 2017.

For more information about the important work being done, visit the Philipp Schwartz Initiative’s homepage and consult the most recent issue of AvH’s magazine, Humboldt Kosmos.

Who can apply?  Please note that researchers cannot apply on an individual basis only through host institutions in Germany.

Research-performing institutions in Germany in the following categories may apply:

  • public and state-recognised universities, including universities of applied sciences (“Fachhochschulen”)
  • Max Planck Institutes, Helmholtz Institutes, Leibniz Institutes, Fraunhofer Institutes
  • Federal and State Research Institutes
  • other research-performing institutions that can convincingly demonstrate their research focus and infrastructures

Successful applicants will be able to grant a Philipp Schwartz Fellowship to a threatened researcher. In detail:

  • institutions that were successful in the 1st or 2nd call for applications (no submission of support concepts in 3rd call; only nomination of researcher)
  • institutions that applied but were not successful in the 1st or 2nd call for applications
  • institutions that have not applied for Philipp Schwartz funding before

Who is eligible for a Philipp Schwartz fellowship?

Threatened researchers from any academic field and any country of origin who

  • have completed their doctorate or a comparable academic degree (PhD, CSc or equivalent)
  • have not been resident outside their own country for more than three years; researchers who hold German university entrance qualifications (“Bildungsinländer”) are not eligible
  • possess the language skills required to successfully conduct their research projects
  • possess academic qualifications (e.g. publications)
  • possess potential to be integrated into the (research-related) job market
  • who have not yet been funded in the context of the Philipp Schwartz Initiative
  • persons that have access to residence in safe countries due to multiple citizenship and German citizens are not eligible for nomination
  • multiple nominations of one person by several institutions are not permitted

The Humboldt Foundation imposes no restrictions with regard to country of origin or current location if the threat can be confirmed in accordance with the programme guidelines.

What does the funding include?

  • fellowship funds including subsidies of 3,500 EUR/month for up to 24 months
  • a one-off lump sum of 12,000 EUR for the host institution

How can a threat to a researcher be confirmed in the context of the Philipp Schwartz Initiative?

In the context of the Philipp Schwartz Initiative, a pertinent threat of researchers who are demonstrably threatened in their countries can be confirmed in two ways:

  • by way of a residence status in the context of an asylum-granting procedure that confirms a recognised threat
  • by way of a credible threat assessment from a third party, such as the Scholars at Risk Network, the Scholar Rescue Fund, or the Council for At-Risk Academics

 

Source: Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation – The Philipp Schwartz Initiative of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation supported by the Federal Foreign Office