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SAR 2016 Global Congress - one month away!

On June 8th, the 2016 Global Congress, Universities in a Dangerous World, will kick off with an all-star plenary: Adam Habib (University of Witwatersrand), Jonathan Becker (Bard College), Lisa Anderson (American University of Cairo), and John Shattuck (Central European University). These leaders in international higher education will set the stage for the central discussions of the Congress -- how to best protect student expression, support refugees in higher education, promote values in international partnerships, and defend against wrongful prosecutions of free expression.

Higher education and human rights professionals, university students, and scholars from over 20 countries are already registered for the Congress, and registration remains open. The Congress will be a unique opportunity to engage with truly inspiring academics and activists in discussions that can help shape the course of higher education around the world. We hope that you will join us! For more information and to register, visit

SAR calls on Turkish higher ed to protect its scholars, uphold academic freedom

April 1, 2016 -- Scholars at Risk has issued a response to Turkey's Minister of National Education, Nabi Avci, who wrote to SAR on March 3, sharing Turkey's commitment to academic freedom, while also defending investigations and proceedings against scholars who signed the Academics for Peace petition.

The response to Minister Avci reaffirms SAR's concern over the investigations and proceedings, highlighting that "academic freedom and institutional autonomy demand a presumption that a scholar’s questions and ideas alone cannot be the basis for professional or personal sanction." The letter urges the Minister to publicly affirm its commitment to academic freedom and to promptly end the investigations and proceedings against the scholars, and offers SAR's assistance in maintaining a constructive dialogue on these issues.

Learn more about SAR's joint efforts to support Turkish scholars.

Legal Restrictions on Thought & Expression in Pakistan, Egypt, Thailand, and Bahrain 

On March 14, 2016, Scholars at Risk and the National Endowment for Democracy co-hosted an event in Washington DC. Speakers for the event included Rafia Zakaria, Emad Shahin, Matar Ebrahim Matar, Khorapin Phuaphansawat, and moderated by SAR Executive Director Rob Quinn

In a number of countries, counter-terrorism, blasphemy, sedition and similar laws are increasingly used to restrict free inquiry and expression, resulting in a shrinking academic and societal space for dialogue. Wrongful prosecutions under these laws not only threaten the well-being of targeted individuals, but undermine the quality of academic work and public discourse and deny everyone in society the benefits of expert knowledge, scientific and creative progress, and free expression.

These laws are often defended as reasonable restrictions on violent or anti-social conduct or as appropriate expressions of national or cultural prerogatives. In practice they are used to restrict thought, punish expression, and intimidate individuals and society generally. Panelists addressed the ways such laws are impacting academics and society more generally in their respective countries.

A recording of the event is available here.

Swedish universities to launch SAR Section

March 7, 2016 -- Leaders from 17 universities across Sweden will convene on March 9, 2016, from 12:00 – 16:00 at the University of Gothenburg, to commemorate the launch of the Swedish Section of Scholars at Risk.

“Academic freedom is at the heart of the university’s mission. As members of the international education community we have a responsibility to defend and protect the free exchange of ideas,” said Helena Lindholm, Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University of Gothenburg, the first Swedish university to join the SAR Network in 2013. “In partnering with Scholars at Risk, Swedish universities are living out this responsibility through concrete actions to protect professors, researchers and other members of higher education communities facing severe threats to their lives and their liberty.”

The launch of the SAR-Sweden Section represents the culmination of several years of partnership between Swedish higher education institutions and the wider, international SAR Network. Read our press release to learn more about the launch event and the SAR-Sweden Section.

Registration opens for SAR's 2016 Global Congress

February 3, 2016 -- Join us in Montreal, Canada from June 8-10 for the 2016 Global Congress, co-hosted by the SAR-Canada Section, McGill University’s Faculty of Law and Center for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism.

At the Congress, more than 200 university, government and nonprofit leaders, faculty, staff, students and advocates from around the world will convene to discuss the most important issues facing human rights and higher ed today. This year's keynote speakers and panel discussions will focus on protecting universities and scholars in contexts of conflict and authoritarian regimes and strengthening the capacity of the university sector to contribute to a more peaceful, just and sustainable world.

Significant early bird registration discounts are available to students and SAR Network members. Learn more and register today!

Global higher ed networks stand with Turkey's scholars

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January 21, 2016 -- A coalition of 20 higher education networks and associations from around the world issued a joint public letter expressing grave concern over recent reports of widespread pressures on members of Turkey’s higher education and research community.

The letter, coordinated by the Scholars at Risk Network's Secretariat, responds to reports that Turkish federal prosecutors have placed under investigation approximately 1,128 scholars, in apparent retaliation for their co-signing a public petition urging Turkish authorities to renew dialogue with factions in the southeastern area of the country.

The signatory organizations call on Turkish authorities to intervene before any further harm is done to the scholars, their institutions, and to the reputation of Turkey’s higher education and research sector.

Learn more about the coalition's response and contact SAR if your organization would like to be included on a list of "additional endorsing organizations."

Dozens killed and injured in attack on Bacha Khan University

January 20, 2016 -- Gunmen killed and injured dozens of students, faculty and others on the campus of Bacha Khan University in northwestern Pakistan, before being killed by security forces.  A regional Pakistani Taliban group reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack.

Learn more about the attack and SAR's response in a report released by the Academic Freedom Monitoring Project.


Turkish scholars detained and under investigation

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan,
Turkey's President
January 19 -- Turkish authorities are investigating over 1,100 scholars after they signed a petition calling on the government to end its crackdowns targeting Kurdish rebels in the southeastern part of the country. On January 12, 2016--one day after the publication of the petition--Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated in a speech that the signatories constituted a “fifth column,” and that the petition displayed a “mentality of colonialism.”

SAR's Academic Freedom Monitoring Project has issued a report on the incident in which Turkish scholar have reportedly been arrested, charged with terrorism and related crimes, and suspended and/or forced to resign. Read SAR's report to learn more.

Bahrain: NGOs call for immediate release of Dr. Al-Singace, now on 300th day of hunger strike

January 15, 2016 -- NGOs from the around the world call for the immediate release of scholar and prisoner of conscience Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace on his 300th day of hunger strike. Dr. Al-Singace, a scholar of mechanical engineering, began his hunger strike in March 2015 as a response to police subjecting inmates at the Central Jau Prison to collective punishment, humiliation and torture.

Scholars at Risk has written and campaigned on behalf of Dr. Al-Singace sin
ce August 2010 when the scholar was first arrested and detained for six months in retaliation for his human rights activism. Dr. Al-Singace was rearrested in March 2011 after participating in pro-democracy protests and was later sentenced to life in prison on June 22, 2011 on allegations stemming from his peaceful exercise of freedom of expression and freedom of association. Learn more about the joint statement marking day 300 of Dr. Al-Singace's hunger strike.

Threatened scholars will find sanctuary in Germany through a new fellowship program

December 15, 2015 -- Scholars at Risk is honored to partner with the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in the launching of the Phillip Schwartz Initiative, a fellowship program that will allow up to 20 scholars and scientists threatened by war and persecution to continue their research at German universities and research institutions for a period of two years starting in the summer of 2016.

The initiative, which has also received the backing of Germany's Federal Foreign Office and private foundations, is named after Jewish pathologist Philipp Schwartz who was forced to flee Nazi-Germany in 1933 and founded the “Notgemeinschaft deutscher Wissenschaftler im Ausland” (Emergency Society of German Scholars Abroad).

Scholars at Risk and partner organization the Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF) will work with participating host institutions to evaluate scholar applications, and to develop and promote information and resource sharing among participating institutions, including through events, conferences and advisory services. In cooperation with SRF and the Humboldt Foundation, SAR will organize a workshop for participating institutions in Berlin from April 19 to 20 to share best practices related to hosting scholars and to discuss a potential SAR-Germany Section.

German universities and research institutions interested in hosting a threatened scholar through the Philip Schwartz Initiative must submit an application by March 31, 2016. Visit the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation's website to download application materials and to learn more.

Scholars at Risk invites members to see an updated list of SAR scholars currently seeking opportunities in Germany.

SAR News Headlines SAR Events

06/23/2015, SAR releases Free to Think At the United Nations Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Scholars at Risk released Free to Think, the first report of its kind demonstrating the alarming frequency and scope of attacks on scholars, students and other members of higher education...
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05/08/2015, We've Got Your Back Sometimes college and university leaders try to avoid the spotlight when a faculty member is under attack.
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05/05/2015, Take It Down Should U of Minnesota have investigated and questioned the judgment of professors whose poster promoting a panel discussion on the Charlie Hebdo murders offended Muslim students?
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06/03/2015, SAR Faculty/Researcher Development Workshop SAR will hold a Faculty/Researcher Development Workshop to introduce representatives of SAR member institutions, sections and partner networks to SAR academic freedom research and advocacy projects
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05/28/2015, SAR at NAFSA SAR's Margaret Coons will be at this year's NAFSA conference in Boston, MA. Contact Margaret to set up a meeting at
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05/05/2015, Network of Universities from the Capitals of Europe (UNICA) International Relations Officer Meeting SAR Program Assistant Margaret Coons will present on ethics in international partnerships at this annual meeting. If you will be attending the meeting or are based in Vilnius, please let us know; write...
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