On Thursday 4 February, police used tear gas, plastic bullets and water cannons to disperse hundreds of university protesters. Students started marching after the government pressured cable and satellite TV providers to drop an opposition channel. Demonstrations have appeared in cities across the country, accusing President Chavez of forcing Radio Caracas Television International off the airwaves to silence his critics.
Majid Tavakoli, an Iranian pro-reform student activist, has been sentenced to eight years in prison for giving a speech at Tehran's Amir Kabir University where he branded President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a 'fascist' and the country's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, a 'dictator'.
Chinese intellectual and dissident Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment on 25 December for his part in drafting and signing the 'Charter 08' document, which calls for significant reforms to the Chinese political system.
A report by France 24 said that Clotilde Reiss, a 24-year-old French academic, appeared before an Iranian Revolutionary Court for a second time on 17 November to face charges of "collecting information and provoking rioters" in the turbulent aftermath of the presidential elections in June.
Human Rights Watch reported that a biologist and environmental activist who had been imprisoned by authorities in Turkmenistan for "causing bodily harm" has been released, apparently on the proviso that he leave the country.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The dynamic of debate in the Israeli academy has suddenly changed, and part of the debate is now being conducted in American venues.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.