Advocacy Insider: Call for nominations for Courage to Think Award 2021

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Posted: 22-06-2021 23:57 | Views: 1090
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Call for nominations: Courage to Think Award 2021

Scholars at Risk is seeking nominations for the 2021 Courage to Think Award, which will be presented during an award ceremony at SAR’s annual Free to Think event in November 2021.

The Courage to Think Award recognizes individuals, groups, or institutions that have demonstrated an exemplary commitment to protecting scholars and promoting academic freedom, whether through their professional work, private or community service, or by facing personal risk. Past recipients include Dr. Rahile Dawut, who, along with all scholars and students of Xinjiang, China, was recognized in absentia for her work in Uyghur studies; Turkey’s Academics for Peace, for their efforts in building academic solidarity and promoting academic freedom worldwide; and over 600 wrongfully imprisoned scholars and students in Egypt, who were honored in absentia for their struggle for academic freedom. 

Please submit your nominations by July 31, 2021.

Submit a nomination » 

Take more action through SAR's Scholars-in-Prison ProjectStudent Advocacy Seminars, and Legal Clinics.

Scholars at Risk urges Belarus to release detained student protesters, restore academic freedom

On May 27, Scholars at Risk sent a letter to Belarusian authorities raising concern over the detention of a growing number of students in apparent retaliation for their nonviolent participation in protests across Belarus. 

Concerns about the allegedly fraudulent August 2020 re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko triggered mass demonstrations across Belarus. According to the Belarusian Students Association, more than 460 students have been detained and over 150 students expelled from universities for their alleged participation in protests, many of which were student-led and on university campuses. 

SAR’s letter, sent after SAR issued a joint statement about the situation in Belarus with the European University Association and the European Students’ Union, urges President Lukashenko to release all detained students and to dismiss investigations or actions against students in apparent connection to their nonviolent expressive activity. You can support detained students in Belarus by sending our letter in your own name. 

Take action! »
Take more action through SAR's Scholars-in-Prison ProjectStudent Advocacy Seminars, and Legal Clinics.

SAR calls on Belarus and Myanmar to restore academic freedom, end attacks on higher ed community

In reports submitted to the Council of the European Union Working Party on Human Rights (COHOM) in advance of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC 47), Scholars at Risk urges COHOM to call on the UNHRC to urge Belarus and Myanmar to cease threats to the higher education sector. 

SAR urges COHOM to call on the Human Rights Council to address the ongoing attacks on the higher education community in Belarus, and to support students and scholars who continue to suffer arrests, detentions, prosecutions, expulsions, and wrongful dismissals. SAR calls on state authorities and higher education leaders in Belarus refrain from the use of force when responding to student and faculty expression; end the use of disciplinary measures in retaliation to academic expression and associations; release students and scholars detained for exercising their rights to peaceful expression and assembly; and protect the institutional autonomy of higher education from government interference. 

SAR urges COHOM to call on the Human Rights Council to address the widespread human rights violations by Myanmar’s military and police following the February 1 military coup and their disastrous impact on Myanmar’s higher education community. SAR calls on state authorities and higher education leaders in Myanmar secure an end to actions by Myanmar’s military and police that restrict or punish peaceful protest; secure the release of imprisoned students, scholars, and other political prisoners; secure the reinstatement of scholars wrongfully dismissed or suspended from their academic posts; restore civilian-led government and rule of law; and protect and promote fundamental human rights, including academic freedom, in Myanmar. 

Start an Academic Freedom Legal Clinic on your campus and contribute to future submissions in coordination with SAR. 

Take more action through SAR's Scholars-in-Prison ProjectStudent Advocacy Seminars, and Legal Clinics.

Attacks on Higher Education

AFGHANISTAN: University faculty killed in targeted bus explosion
Al-Beroni University, Afghanistan, 5/29
A remote-controlled explosive device targeting a minibus carrying Al-Beroni University students and faculty was detonated, killing at least 4 and wounding 17 others.
Read more »
INDIA: University suspends professor over in-class remarks
Central University of Kerala, India, 5/17
The Central University of Kerala suspended Gilbert Sebastian, an assistant professor in the Department of International Relations, for remarks critical of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindu-nationalist organization connected to India’s ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party. 
Read more »
CHINA: Authorities block lawyer’s travel for academic fellowship
Unaffiliated, China, 5/8
Chinese authorities barred human rights lawyer Lu Siwei from leaving the country and traveling to the United States to undertake an academic fellowship, on national security grounds.
Read more »
THAILAND: Police summon students for artistic expression
Chiang Mai University, Thailand, 5/5
Thai police summoned two Chiang Mai University students, Yotsunthon Ruttapradit and Withaya Khlangnin, on lèse-majesté charges for on-campus artistic expression.
Read more »
COLOMBIA: Professor excludes student from class over political views
Universidad del Rosario, Colombia, 5/4
Universidad del Rosario law Professor Édgar Ramírez Baquero ordered his student, María Camila Guerrero, to leave his virtual class after she displayed an image supporting the national strike in Colombia.
Read more »
MYANMAR: Military suspends university staff protesting coup
Various, Myanmar, 5/3
Myanmar’s military regime suspended university staff members, including professors and administrators, who went on strike to protest military rule.
Read more »
AZERBAIJAN: Police detain peaceful student protesters
Azerbaijan State Economic University, Azerbaijan, 5/3
Police detained five students peacefully protesting a decision by Azerbaijan State Economic University to revoke a policy that aided students taking exams amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read more »
HONG KONG: University effectively cuts ties with student union
University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 4/28
The University of Hong Kong’s administration announced sanctions against the student union for its public expressions regarding political developments in Hong Kong and the university administration.
Read more »
ZAMBIA: Government accuses professor of sedition
University of Cape Town | University of Zambia, Zambia, 4/26
A government official accused Sishuwa Sishuwa, a University of Zambia professor, of sedition in apparent retaliation for an op-ed he authored.
Read more »
AFGHANISTAN: Gunmen kill university lecturer
Peshgam Institute of Higher Education, Afghanistan, 4/24
Gunmen shot and killed university lecturer Rafi Osmani (رفیع عثماني) amidst a series of targeted attacks in Kabul on the same day.
Read more »
BELARUS: University declines to renew professor’s contract
Belarusian State University, Belarus, 4/17
Belarusian State University did not renew the contract of Alena Laeyuskaya, a civil law professor. The decision appears to be based on political considerations, specifically her son’s legal defense of imprisoned former presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka.
Read more »

Learn more about SAR's Academic Freedom Monitoring Project, which identifies and tracks attacks on higher education communities in order to protect vulnerable individuals, promote accountability, and prevent future attacks.

Academic Freedom in the News
EUROPE: European Ombudsperson needed ‘to defend academic freedom’
Brendan O'Malley, University World News, 6/17
The Guild, a group of 21 research-intensive universities in Europe, has called for the creation of a European Ombudsperson to protect and defend academic freedom. A press statement said that protection of academic freedom is critical as scientific evidence and facts are increasingly denied and contested.
Read more »
UNITED STATES: US academia defends critical race theory amid political onslaught
Paul Basken, Times Higher Education, 6/16
The American Association of University Professors, which includes 1,200 member institutions, and over 60 more associations issued a joint statement expressing alarm over the recent political attacks of critical race theory, and the legislation limiting educators’ ability to make academic judgments.
Read more »
DENMARK: Danish academics fear for freedom after MPs condemn ‘activism’
David Matthews, Times Higher Education, 6/11
Universities and academics believe lawmakers are conducting a “political campaign against certain areas of research” after the Danish parliament passed a statement condemning “excessive activism in certain areas of research.”
Read more »

Sign up for SAR's Academic Freedom Media Review, a weekly digest of news, essays, and other media pertaining to academic freedom and higher education communities around the world.


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