Posts Tagged ‘Scholars at Risk’

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

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/

Academic Freedom monitored by Scholars at Risk which celebrates its 15th anniversary in Montreal

May 27, 2016

Attacks on higher education threaten the safety and well-being of scholars, administrators, staff and students; undermine academic work and instruction; and deny everyone the benefits of expert knowledge and scientific and creative progress. Too often such attacks go unreported. Scholars at Risk (SAR) publishes an Academic Freedom Monitor which tracks key attacks with the aims of protecting vulnerable individuals, promoting accountability and preventing future violations. In the period February – April 2016  SAR reports 20 incidents:

Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Bahrain Chamber of Commerce assesses press freedom….

May 4, 2015

The 2015 Press Kowtow award should probably go to the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) which – as reported by the equally sharp Bahrain News Agency (BNA) on 3 May 2015 – saluted the national press strides over the past years“. It issued this statement as Bahrain joined other nations in marking the World Press Freedom Day, being held this year under the theme “Let Journalism Thrive! Towards Better Reporting, Gender Equality, and Media Safety in the Digital Age”. It lauded His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa and His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Premier for their support…..

As Brian Dooley of Human Rights First rightly points out today on Twitter (https://twitter.com/dooley_dooley): Bahrain scored 163rd [!!] place in the Index on Censorship survey, Read the rest of this entry »