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What are you #free2think about?

Every day, academics, artists, journalists and other brave individuals face persecution because of their ideas. Despite these risks, they continue to write, publish and speak
out. The right to be free to think is one we take for granted all too often. Join us! Send a message of support to all those brave individuals who are continuing to think, question and share ideas freely. Write down what you are grateful to be free to think about, and snap a picture. Post it on Twitter or Facebook or other sites using the hashtag #free2think, demonstrating solidarity with those who continue to speak out. 



Launch of SAR-Ireland section coordinating committee

Universities Ireland, in partnership with Scholars at Risk, launched the SAR-Ireland section coordinating committee at Trinity College Dublin on December 10, 2014. Speakers included Dr. Michael Murphy, President, Universities Ireland, Ruth Taillon, Secretary, Universities Ireland, Shadi Sadr, Iranian femininst and human rights defender, Dr. Roja Fazaeli, Lecturer in Islamic Civilisations, Trinity College Dublin, Claire Mary Dowling, a student at Trinity College Dublin and  Sinead O’Gorman, European Director at SAR. 



SAR Speaker Series Sweden, December 2014


From December 3-5, 2014, a Scholars at Risk Speaker Series was held at three Swedish universities: Malmö University, University of Gothenburg, and Lund University. Speakers included Dr. Shirin Zubair from Pakistan, Marit Egner, SAR Primary Representative at the University of Oslo, Sinead O’Gorman, SAR’s European Director and representatives from the host institutions.



UNIVERSITY VALUES bulletin, new blog post October 2014 (new blog format!)

University Values header

Deported from Papua New Guinea due to his activities as Vice-Chancellor of the Papua New Guinea University of Technology, one scholar shares his story of perseverance and courage on our University Values blog. UNIVERSITY VALUES is an electronic bulletin and blog featuring articles, essays and announcements promoting discussion and understanding of university values - including access, accountability/ transparency, academic freedom/quality, autonomy/good governance, and social responsibility. SAR coordinates the production and circulation of the bulletin, in cooperation with an international network of contributing organizations and individuals. The views presented are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent SAR or its respective members. The October 2014 guest blog post is available here. (An archive of prior editions from 2009-2012 is available here.)
 


SAR calls for letters: Appeal denied for professor sentenced to life in prison in China
 
New York, November 21, 2014 -- Scholars at Risk is gravely concerned over reports that an appeals court in China has upheld the sentence for Professor Ilham Tohti, a public intellectual and economics professor, who was convicted on charges of separatism and sentenced to life in prison in September. SAR calls for letters, emails, and faxes respectfully urging authorities to ensure that any charges or convictions related to his academic activities are lifted.

Professor Tohti is a professor of economics at the Central Minzu University in Beijing and advocate for the rights of the Chinese Uighur minority. Scholars at Risk understands that on the afternoon of January 15, 2014, police raided Professor Tohti’s family home and arrested Professor Tohti. According to reports, he was held incommunicado until late June, after which he was denied regular access to family. On July 30, Professor Tohti was formally charged with separatism, charges that reportedly stem from his teachings at the university and writings published on his former website, Uighur Online.

On September 16 and 17, 2014, Professor Tohti underwent a two-day trial in the Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court, which was closed to the public. Professor Tohti reportedly maintained his innocence throughout trial, rejecting the charge of separatism and stating: "There is nothing wrong with voicing one’s thoughts. And there is nothing wrong with doing academic research." Following trial, on September 23, 2014, the court found Professor Tohti guilty of separatism and sentenced him to life in prison. This sentence was upheld on November 21; an appeals decision was made within the detention center where Professor Tohti is being held. Write on behalf of Professor Tohti today, view SAR's letter, or visit SAR's monitoring website to learn more.
  


SAR calls for letters on behalf of Malaysian law professor facing prosecution on sedition charges


New York, September 11, 2014 -- Scholars at Risk is gravely concerned by reports that Dr. Azmi Sharom, an associate professor of law, faces prosecution on charges relating to his academic profession. SAR calls for letters, faxes and emails respectfully urging authorities to investigate and drop any charges stemming from Prof. Azmi's exercise of academic freedom and free expression.

Professor Azmi Sharom is an associate professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Malaya. Scholars at Risk understands that, on September 2, 2014, Prof. Azmi was charged in Kuala Lumpur Session Court with sedition. Under Malaysian law, sedition is defined as speech that “would bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against” the government. The charges apparently stem from an interview Prof. Azmi gave on August 14 regarding an ongoing political crisis in Selangor state. In the interview, Prof. Azmi compared the current crisis to a situation in the Malaysian state of Perak in 2009, stating, “[y]ou don’t want a repeat of that, where a secret meeting took place” and “I think what happened in Perak was legally wrong. The best thing to do is do it as legally and transparently as possible.” Prof. Azmi pleaded not guilty to the charge against him and was released on bail pending trial. He spoke publicly about the prosecution, stating, “I was shocked to learn that I am being charged under the Sedition Act because of comments I made on the Perak crisis of 2009. My statements were based on established case law and democratic principles. They were given in my capacity as a law lecturer of 24 years standing.” Reports indicate that his next hearing is set for October 3, 2014.
     
View a copy of SAR's letter or write one of your own.



UPDATE: Good news! Retrial granted for Omid Kokabee


New York, October 14, 2014 -- According to a report by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, the Supreme Court of Iran has accepted a retrial request for the imprisoned physicist and doctoral student Omid Kokabee.

On January 30, 2011, Omid Kokabee, 33, was arrested at the Tehran International Airport when trying to return to the U.S. after visiting his family. Mr. Kokabee was a post-doctoral nuclear physics student at the University of Texas at Austin. Following his arrest, Mr. Kokabee was kept in solitary confinement for over a month before he was allowed to see his family and lawyer. On May 14, 2012, he was charged with "contact with enemy states" and sentenced to ten years in prison. Evidence of these charges were unsubstantiated and Mr. Kokabee wrote that his arrest occurred when he refused to cooperate with security agents on a military research project. Mr. Kokabee's lawyer states, "acceptance of the retrial request means that the top judiciary authority has deemed Dr Omid Kokabee's [initial] verdict against the law."


Scholars at Risk has advocated on behalf of Mr. Kokabee on multiple occasions, and we will continue to monitor developments in this case. For copies of SAR's public letters regarding Mr. Kokabee, and for additional information on SAR’s advocacy work, please visit our Scholars in Prison page.


SAR News Headlines SAR Events

01/28/2014, Providing a safe haven for scholars at risk Montreal is half a world away from the rural community of Bure, Ethiopia, where Semahagn Abebe was raised by his grandmother. One of eleven children, he soon moved to the capital city, Addis Ababa, to pursue higher education and launch his career.
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10/25/2013, Prof Suspended Over Tweet Won't Return in 2013 The chancellor of the University of Kansas announced Thursday that a journalism professor suspended over a tweet that angrily targeted the National Rifle Association after the Navy Yard shootings will not return to his classroom in 2013.
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10/25/2013, Confederate flag raises issues, ire at a N.Y. college ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A University of Rochester student says college officials violated his right to free expression by forcing him to take down a Confederate flag he had put in the window of his room on campus.
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02/21/2013, The University and the Nation: Safeguarding Higher Education in Tunisia and Beyond Scholars at Risk and the NYU Center for Dialogues announce a conference, The University and the Nation: Safeguarding Higher Education in Tunisia and Beyond, at University of Manouba in Tunis, Tunisia on...
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05/23/2011, Launch of Scholars at Risk, Norway Section Scholars at Risk, Norway Section will be launched at Oslo University College (HiO). The Norwegian Section will represent Norway in the wider international Scholars at Risk Network and organize and coordinate...
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04/27/2011, Swimming with Sharks: How Big Pharma Threatens Academic Freedom The University of Groningen, member of the SAR-UAF network in the Netherlands, hosts “Swimming with Sharks: How Big Pharma Threatens Academic Freedom,” from 8 to 10 p.m. on April 27 at the Academiegebouw,...
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