22 June 2017 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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Academic Freedom
CHINA: Academic imprisoned for criticising government
A former professor at Nanjing Normal University and leader of a campaign for competitive multiparty democracy has been sentenced to 10 years in prison by Chinese authorities for alleged 'subversion of state power', the Financial Times has reported. Guo Quan was sentenced on 16 October in Suqian, a city in the eastern province of Jiangsu, four months after the case was filed with the court in June.
PERU: Human rights academic receives death threats
Dr Salomon Lerner Febres, a leading academic and President of the Institute for Democracy and Human Rights at the Catholic University of Peru, has reported receiving death threats, according to Human Rights Watch.
IRAN: Students protest on first day of new term
Students at Tehran University have staged protests against the government of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad as the university opened its doors for the new academic year. BBC News reports that the demonstrations occurred after the students were denied entry to an opening ceremony attended by a government minister.
GLOBAL: Academic Freedom: A realistic appraisal
Everyone seems to favour academic freedom. Indeed, if university leaders or ministers of education were asked, they would claim that this privilege is universally practiced. Yet problems concerning academic freedom exist almost everywhere - created by changing academic realities, political pressures, growing commercialisation and marketisation of higher education, or legal pressures. Academic freedom needs to be carefully defined so that it can be defended in the global climate of complexity. A new, and probably more delimited, understanding of academic freedom is needed in the age of the internet and the global knowledge economy.
CROATIA: Conference boycott urged over 'plagiarist' chair
A group of academics is calling on participants to boycott a forthcoming conference in Croatia after it emerged that the chair has a proven history of scientific misconduct, the Times Higher Education has reported.
US: Neve Gordon's academic freedom
The dynamic of debate in the Israeli academy has suddenly changed, and part of the debate is now being conducted in American venues.
VENEZUELA: Students and staff injured on campus
Four people have been injured on the campus of Universidad de Los Andes (ULA) in western Venezuela during an attack by a group of 30 suspected government supporters.
HONDURAS: Police and students clash
Riot police responded harshly on 5 August to growing student rallies outside the National Autonomous University in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa. Tear gas and water cannons were used to disperse some 3,000 students rallying in support of the country's ousted president, Manuel Zelaya.
IRAN: Iranian-American academic detained in Tehran
On 9 July 2009 Dr Kian Tajbakhsh, a prominent Iranian-American social scientist, was arrested at his home by Tehran authorities. The agents did not provide any legal justification for the arrest and took him to an undisclosed location.
MEXICO: Student kicked unconscious by police
Amnesty International has condemned police in Chiapas State in southern Mexico after a 16-year-old student activist was beaten unconscious last month. Jose Emiliano Nandayapa Gomez was reportedly attacked because of his 'subversive haircut' although he has been involved in promoting the rights of young people.
IRAN: Arrest of academics condemned
The UK's University and College Union has condemned the Iranian government after 70 university professors were arrested as part of the state's crackdown on opposition protestors. The academics were held on 25 June after meeting the pro-reformist candidate Mir Hussein Mousavi.
IRAN: Post-election violence spreads to universities
Violence spread from Tehran to the outer provinces and several universities reported clashes between students and security forces, according to UPI. Chancellor of Shiraz University, Mohammad Hadi Sadeghi, resigned from his post last Wednesday after riot police stormed a library and fired tear gas inside.
MEXICO: Academic censored and threatened
Florencio Posadas Segura, a professor at the Autonomous University of Sinaloa in Mexico, has been censured after speaking on the university radio station, Radio UAS. On 13 and 15 May, he commented on the topic of new university regulations, including the issue of succession of the rector, saying that they had not passed democratic and academic tests. Segura was then severely reprimanded by the university authorities.
GLOBAL: Higher education world conference
The World Conference on Higher Education will be held in July at Unesco headquarters in Paris on the theme of The New Dynamics of Higher Education. It follows the 1998 World Conference, which was important for recognising higher education as a key factor in the progression of nations and their people, for sustainable development and for human rights as well as for democracy, peace and justice.
CHINA: Retired professor attacked
On 4 April, a retired professor from Shandong University was brutally beaten by five unidentified men, Human Rights In China has reported. Sun Wenguang, 75, was attacked as he returned from paying respects to the memory of the late Zhao Ziyang, former General Secretary of the Communist Party who visited students on Tiananmen Square during the 1989 democracy movement, and of Zhang Zhixin, a dissident killed during the Cultural Revolution.
UNESCO: World conference on higher education
The Network for Education and Academic Rights (NEAR) has been working with our partner organisation, Scholars at Risk, to produce a platform for the Unesco World Conference on Higher Education in Paris from 5-8 July. We call for your support in urging the organisers and participants to offer their full support for academic freedom and higher education values.
CHINA: Historian released but unable to travel
Tohti Tunyaz, a Uighur historian and writer from China, was released last month after spending 11 years in prison. Tohti was sentenced for "illegally acquiring state secrets" after receiving a copy of a list of documents relating to the second East Turkestan Independence Movement and pre-1949 Xinjiang history. He was also convicted of "instigating national disunity" after allegedly publishing a book in Japan titled The Inside Story of the Silk Road that was claimed to promote ethnic separatism.
CHINA: Hong Kong professor denied entry into Macau
A Hong Kong professor and two pro-democracy politicians have been barred from Macau, raising serious concerns about academic freedom. AFP News reported that Johannes Chan, Dean of the University of Hong Kong's law faculty, was turned away by immigration officers on 28 February when he went to give a speech at the University of Macau.
THAILAND: Professor charged with insulting King flees
Giles Ji Ungpakorn, a professor of political science at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, fled to Britain last week after being charged with insulting the King under Thailand's draconian lèse majesté laws. Ungpakorn faced three to 15 years in prison for insulting the King in paragraphs in his book, A Coup for the Rich. Lèse majesté laws are intended to punish "whoever defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir to the throne or the regent".
THAILAND: Academic charged with insulting the monarchy
Giles Ji Ungpakorn, a professor of political science at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, was charged last week under the kingdom's harsh 'lèse majesté' laws, for comments made in numerous paragraphs of his book, A Coup for the Rich. 'Lèse majesté' laws are intended to protect the monarchy from defamation and those found guilty can face a heavy prison sentence.
ISRAEL-PALESTINE: Islamic University in Gaza attacked
The Islamic University in Gaza, an independent Palestinian university established in 1978, has been bombed by Israeli warplanes. The attack took place on 28 December and while the scale of the damage is still not known, reports suggest that a science laboratory was targeted. Fortunately, the university was evacuated before the Israeli assault began and there were no casualties.
SOUTH AFRICA: Professor quits despite global protest
Appeals from academics and organisations around the world to University of KwaZulu-Natal authorities were not enough to prevent the resignation of Professor Nithaya Chetty, The Witness has reported. Inside sources claim Chetty was pushed to resign by his own lawyers for fear of further retribution. The highly respected 45-year-old physicist received immediate job offers from a number of South African institutions and has accepted one from the University of Johannesburg.
SOUTH AFRICA: University petitioned on freedom inroads
About 150 staff at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa have put their names to a petition calling on Education Minister Naledi Pandor to intervene in an long-running dispute over academic freedom, writes Sue Blaine in Business Day. The argument has pitted vice-chancellor Professor Malegapuru Makgoba against some of 4,000 staff members, of whom 1,960 are academics, and international academics.
ETHIOPIA: Academic freedom in East African universities
The Network for Education and Academic Rights (NEAR) and the Scholars at Risk (SAR) Network held a conference and workshop on academic freedom in Ethiopia last month. The event was organised in partnership with the Forum for Social Studies, the Organisation for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa and the British Council. Faculty members and researchers from 13 countries participated, including Ethiopia, Ghana, Jordan, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Ukraine, UK and the US.
UK: Lecturers fear anti-terror laws
A senior member of Britain's Higher Education Academy has noted that many academics teaching and researching terrorism-related subjects are including disclaimers in their course materials as a result of anti-terror laws. According to Times Higher Education, a senior coordinator at the Academy's centre for sociology, anthropology and politics organised a workshop on 'teaching terrorism' at the University of Strathclyde last month in response to the new fears.