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The information in this quarterly print report is current as of April 10, 2017. The situation of scholars and students around the world changes on a daily basis. For the most up-to-date information and ways in which you can be involved in calling for the freedom of endangered scholars and students, please visit www.endangeredscholarsworldwide.net or follow us at www.facebook.com/endangeredscholars. In these pages we simply introduce new cases that have come to our attention in the past three months and provide basic information about continuing cases—a description of charges and potential or actual reported sentences. If you are aware of a scholar or student whose case you believe we should investigate, please contact us at esw@newschool.edu.

Endangered Scholars Worldwide Urges Hungary to Rethink Closure of Central European University

On Monday, April 10, 2017, Hungary's president signed a law that could lead to the closure of Central European University (CEU).

The Hungarian Parliament voted in favor of the bill submitted to Parliament on March 28, 2017, by Zoltán Balog, Minister of Human Resources. The bill claimed "irregularities" were found in the operation of foreign-based universities. While no universities are specifically named, it has been widely noted that the legislation seems to target CEU. A total of 123 MPs voted for the bill, widely referred to as Lex CEU, and 38 opposition MPs voted against it.

Starting January 1, 2018, CEU will no longer be permitted to enroll new students in any programs unless an agreement is reached by September 2017 between the United States government, the State [End Page v] of New York, and the Hungarian government. In addition, the legislation will force CEU to open a campus in New York State (where it is also accredited) and change its name. It would also eliminate a waiver that allows academic staff from non-EU nations to work at the university without a work permit.

Endangered Scholars Worldwide strongly deplores and condemns the legislation as part of a power play by Prime Minister Viktor Orban against liberal values. The new law is a flagrant and unjust violation of the freedom, autonomy, security, and safety of a prominent European university and its more than 2200 faculty members, students, and academic staff.

We urge all European governments, international organizations, university presidents, the US Department of State, academic and professional associations, student groups and individuals devoted to the promotion and defense of human rights to speak up and defend academic freedom and autonomy, and strongly protest and condemn this injudicious law, to call for immediate withdrawal of the law that directly and deliberately threatens the existence of an accomplished and internationally acclaimed university in the country.

We urge the officials of the Hungarian government to respect, guarantee, and implement the provisions and principles of autonomy of higher education as specified in international conventions and treaties to which Hungary has long been a signatory.

Please send appeals to:

  • Zoltán Kovács

  • International Spokesperson

  • Tel: +36 1 896 1905

  • Fax: +36 1 795 0410

  • Email: intcomm@mk.gov.hu

CC:

  • István Mikola

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

  • Bem rakpart 47

  • 1027 Budapest

  • Hungary

  • Phone: +36 1 458 1000

  • Fax: +36 1 212 5918 [End Page vi]

  • Rex W. Tillerson

  • United States Secretary of State

  • Office of Foreign Missions

  • U.S. Department of State

  • 2201 C Street NW

  • Washington, DC 20520 USA

  • Email: OFMInfo@state.gov

  • Nikki Haley

  • U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations

  • U.S. Permanent Mission to the United Nations

  • 799 United Nations Plaza

  • New York, NY 10017 USA

  • Kishore Singh

  • United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education

  • Palais des Nations

  • CH-1211 Geneva 10

  • Switzerland

  • Email: sreducation@ohchr.org

  • David Kaye

  • United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression

  • Palais des Nations

  • CH-1211 Geneva 10

  • Switzerland

  • Fax: +41 22 917 9006

  • Email: freedex@ohchr.org

  • Federica Mogherini

  • High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

  • European Commission

  • Rue de la Loi / Wetstraat 200

  • 1049 Brussels

  • Belgium

  • Thorbjørn Jagland

  • Secretary General of the Council of Europe

  • Council of Europe

  • Avenue de l'Europe

  • F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex

  • France

  • Fax: + 33 3 88 41 27 99

  • Philippe Boillat

  • Directorate General Human Rights and Rule of Law

  • Council of Europe

  • Avenue de l'Europe

  • F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex

  • France

  • Fax: + 33 3 88 41 27 99 [End Page vii]

NEW AND CONTINUING CASES

BAHRAIN

Scholars and Researchers: abdul-jalil al-singace, head of the department of engineering at the University of Bahrain, has been in Jau prison since 2011. At that time, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly "plotting to overthrow the government" during the Arab Spring protests demanding greater democracy. Al-Singace, a polio victim who can only stand on one leg, was nevertheless tortured at the time of his detention by beatings, sexual assault, and being forced to stand upright for long periods despite his disability. The professor of engineering at the University of Bahrain was also a Draper Hills Fellow at Stanford University's Center on Democracy in Development and the Rule of Law. He has long campaigned for political reform and an end to torture, writing on these and other subjects on his blog (in Arabic), Al-Faseela (The Date Sapling).

Students who remain in prison include ahmed al arab, a nursing student, arrested in January 2014 and sentenced to life imprisonment. Al Arab has previously reported that he was subject to severe torture and ill-treatment while held in detention. He said he was stripped naked and hung from his wrists while they were handcuffed behind his back.

Endangered Scholars Worldwide is strongly concerned about continued attacks on Ahmed Al Arab and calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, the European Union and international institutions to put pressure on Bahraini authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Ahmed Al-Arab, along with all other detainees held on politically motivated charges due to the ongoing popular movement for freedom and democracy.

ahmed aoun was arrested in May 2015 on charges of "involvement in pro-democracy demonstrations." In addition, five students were sentenced to 15 years in prison at a trial on March 5, 2012, following involvement in prodemocracy demonstrations, including jawad al-mahary, [End Page viii] shawqi radhi, jassim al hulaini, jassim al-mukhodher, and yousif ahmed.

Please send appeals to:

  • His Majesty Sheikh Hamad bin Isa

  • Al-Khalifa

  • Office of His Majesty the King

  • The Amiri Court

  • P.O. Box 555

  • Rifa'a Palace

  • Al-Manama

  • Kingdom of Bahrain

  • Fax: +973 176 64 587

  • Website: http://www.mofa.gov.bh/

  • Sheikh Khalid bin Ali Al-Khalifa

  • Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs

  • Diplomatic Area

  • P.O Box # 450

  • Al-Manama

  • Kingdom of Bahrain

  • Fax: +973 175 13 333

CHINA

Scholars and Researchers: On March 26, 2017, chongyi feng, a permanent resident of Australia who researches human rights issues at the University of Technology Sydney, was barred by state security agents from leaving China after a research trip, on the suspicion that he was endangering national security. Professor Feng's case sparked concern among international academics and prompted the Australian government's intervention, which successfully pressured Chinese authorities to let the professor leave China.

On December 10, 2016, World Human Rights Day, a group of internationally renowned writers sent a letter to China's president, Xi Jinping, urging the Chinese authorities to release jailed or detained writers, journalists, bloggers, and activists. They urged the release of ilham tohti, an economics professor and distinguished scholar of China's Uyghur Muslim minority, who was sentenced to life in prison in September 2014 by the Xinjiang People's High Court for "separatism" after what Human Rights Watch called "a grossly unfair trial." In recent [End Page ix] developments, according to an interview conducted by Radio Free Asia, the family of the jailed Uyghur scholar is facing extreme hardship and increasing isolation as his wife struggles to raise the couple's young sons in Beijing.

Endangered Scholars Worldwide deplores the Chinese government's pervasive and ongoing crackdown on the Uyghur people. We call on the Chinese government to free Professor Ilham Tohti immediately and unconditionally, and to investigate the allegations of his mistreatment while detained.

Also, remaining in prison are xu zhiyong, sentenced in July 2015 to four years in prison for "gathering a crowd to disturb public order," guo quan, a literature professor at Nanjing Normal University, sentenced to 10 years in prison in October 2009 on charges of "inciting subversion of state power," and liu xiaobo, 61, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Social Research author, who has been held in Jinzhou Prison since his arrest in December 2008 for "inciting subversion of state power." Even six years after winning the Nobel Peace Prize, the jailed Chinese dissident seems unlikely to be given a chance to "seek medical parole" overseas as high-profile dissidents have done before him. Since 2010, Liu's wife, Liu Xia, has remained under strict house arrest and close police surveillance at the couple's home; she later was denied contact with friends and fellow activists. Endangered Scholars Worldwide calls on the Chinese government to release the Nobel Peace Laureate as well as many other members of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre who have been imprisoned and persecuted.

Students who remain in prison on charges of "separatism" and their connection to Professor Ilham Tohti are perhat halmurat, shohret nijat, luo yuwei, mutellip imin, abduqeyum ablimit, atiken rozi and akbar imin.

Please send appeals to:

  • His Excellency Xi Jinping

  • President of the People's Republic of China

  • Zhong Naihai

  • Beijing 100032

  • People's Republic of China [End Page x]

  • Zhou Qiang

  • Chief Justice, Supreme People's Court

  • No. 27 Dong Jiao Min Xiang

  • Beijing 100745

  • People's Republic of China

  • Fax: +86 10 6529 2345 (c/o Ministry of Communication)

  • Website: www.court.gov.cn

Facebook group in support of liu xiaobo: http://www.facebook.com/Free.Liu

Calls for letters on behalf of ilham tohti: http://goo.gl/RlScCG

EGYPT

Students who remain in prison include karim al-banna, sentenced to three years in prison in January 2015 on charges of contempt of religion and insulting the divine. sherif gaber, a student from Suez Canal University, was sentenced to one year in prison in February 2015 for contempt of religion relating to activities on campus and atheist statements online. Mr. Gaber went into hiding upon his release on bail and prior to his sentencing. He has now been granted asylum abroad but choses to remain in hiding in Egypt.

Please send appeals to:

  • Ambassador Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta

  • Egyptian Permanent Representative to the United Nations

  • United Nations

  • 800 Second Avenue

  • New York, NY 10017

  • USA

IRAN

Scholars and Researchers: On February 7, 2017, ahmadreza djalali, 45, arrested in April 2016, on charges of espionage, was reportedly sentenced to death. According to the Belgian newspaper De Morgen, Djalali has been forced to sign a confession, for which he will receive the death penalty. The Iranian government is calling it a matter of national security. Djalali, who has taught at the European Master in Disaster Medicine (EMDM) in Italy—a joint master at the Università degli Studi [End Page xi] del Piemonte Orientale and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel—was arrested in April 2016 in Iran while he was visiting his family. He spent more than seven months in solitary confinement without a proper trial or access to a lawyer.

Endangered Scholars Worldwide considers this arbitrary detention a flagrant and unjust violation of the freedom, security, and safety of an academic who is clearly a victim of a political witch hunt—arrested without cause, held for months in solitary confinement and without access to a lawyer, and subjected to physical mistreatment and psychological abuse. Endangered Scholars Worldwide deplores this unjustified verdict in the strongest terms and call upon all international organizations, academic and professional associations, and other groups and individuals devoted to the promotion and defense of human rights to strongly protest and condemn this arbitrary sentence, to call for Professor Djalali's immediate and unconditional release, and to urge the officials of the Iranian government to respect, guarantee, and implement the provisions and principles of human rights as specified in international conventions and treaties.

Also remaining in prison are kamran mortezaie and vahid mahmoudi, connected to the Baha'i Institute for Higher Education, who were arrested following coordinated attacks on the institute in May 2011 and each sentenced to five years in prison, and mostafa alavi, an Iranian doctor and researcher sentenced to fifteen years' imprisonment in August 2008 on charges of "plotting against the regime."

Students who remain in prison include yashar darolshafa, a graduate student in sociology at Tehran University, arrested and charged with "assembly and collusion against national security" and "founding or leading an organization aimed to disrupt national security," currently serving a five-and-a-half year sentence; arash sadeghi, a student rights activist sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment in September 2014 on charges of "collusion against the regime" and "insulting the Supreme Leader of Iran"; and vahid ranjbar, arrested in August 2014. [End Page xii]

Other students still in prison include zia nabavi, serving a ten-year sentence after attending protests following the 2009 elections and currently is in critical condition; and hamid babaei, a PhD student at the University of Liege in Belgium, detained in August 2013 shortly after his return to Tehran and sentenced to six years in prison on charges of "communicating with hostile foreign governments and spying." Babaei has consistently said that he was imprisoned for refusing to operate as an informant in Belgium for Iran's Intelligence Ministry. Babaei has also been suffering from severe gum disease and other dental problems in prison, but the authorities have ignored his need for proper medical treatment.

Please send appeals to:

  • Ayatollah Sadeqh Larijani

  • Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)

  • Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e

  • Jomhouri

  • Tehran

  • Islamic Republic of Iran

  • President Hassan Rouhani

  • The Office of the President

  • Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection

  • Tehran

  • Islamic Republic of Iran

LAOS

Student protestors thongpaseuth keuakoun, seng-aloun phengphanh, and bouavanh chanhmanivong were imprisoned in 1999 following their arrest on charges of treason for displaying posters calling for economic, political, and social change during demonstrations. Even after eighteen years, it is not known in which prison the three students are being held or if they are still alive. [End Page xiii]

Please send appeals to:

  • President Choummaly Sayasone

  • Office of the President

  • Vientiane

  • Laos

SAUDI ARABIA

Scholars and Researchers: In March 2016, ali abdullah al-haji, a professor at King Saud University in Riyadh, was arrested along with 31 others on charges of spying for Iran. The accused also include a student at Imam Muhammad Bin Saud Islamic University, as well as an academician who held the job of "development researcher" at the Ministry of Education for more than 25 years. Endangered Scholars Worldwide has not been able to obtain the names of the latter two defendants.

Scholars and researchers who remain in prison include abdul kareem yousef al-khoder, a professor of comparative jurisprudence at Qassim University, sentenced in June 2013 to eight years' imprisonment and a ten-year travel ban, and sa'ud mukhtar al-hashimi, a faculty member at the King Abdulaziz University, sentenced in November 2011 to thirty years in prison.

Please send appeals to:

  • Adel bin Ahmed Al- Jubeir

  • Minister of Foreign Affairs

  • Nasseriya Street

  • Riyadh 11124

  • Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

  • Fax: +966 1 403 0645

  • Prince Turki bin Khaled Al-Sudairy

  • President Human Rights Commission

  • P.O. Box 58889, Bldg. 373

  • King Fahad Road

  • Riyadh 11515

  • Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

  • Fax: +966 1 4612061

REPUBLIC OF SUDAN

Scholars and Researchers: sidig noreen ali abdalla, who has taught at West Kordofan, has been in prison since January 14, 2014. According to the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) report dated March 25, 2015, there are growing safety concerns for the detained scholar, who has been held incommunicado and without charge by Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS). [End Page xiv]

Please send appeals to:

  • His Excellency Lt. Omar Hassan Ahmad

  • Al-Bashir

  • President of the Republic of Sudan

  • President's Palace

  • P.O. Box 281

  • Khartoum

  • Sudan

  • Fax: +249 183 783 223

  • His Excellency Mohamed Boshara Dosa

  • Minister of Justice and Attorney General

  • Ministry of Justice

  • P.O. Box 302

  • Al Nil Avenue

  • Khartoum

  • Sudan

  • Fax: +249 183 78 07 96/+249 183 770883

  • His Excellency Ambassador Daffa-Alla

  • Elhag Ali Osman

  • Permanent Representative to the United Nations

  • Permanent Mission of the Republic of Sudan to the United Nations in Geneva

  • Avenue Blanc 47

  • 1202 Geneva

  • Switzerland

  • Fax: +41 22 731 26 56

  • Email: mission.sudan@bluewin.ch / mission.sudan@ties.itu.int

TURKEY

Endangered Scholars Worldwide is deeply concerned about the harsh measures the Turkish government has taken against universities and other institutions of higher education, and its systematic targeting of the country's scholars and professors, since the coup attempt on July 15, 2016. The Turkish government's actions harm the entire educational community by undermining universities' abilities to meet scientific and ethical standards as well as fulfill intellectual, educational, social and institutional responsibilities.

In July 2016, Turkey's Council of Higher Education (YOK) effectively dismissed 1,577 university deans and four university presidents, and took "legal action … against academic and administrative staff [engaged in] in parallel state formation," which resulted in the shutting down of 193 universities. Since then, more than 120,000 people have been dismissed, while nearly 44,000 have been jailed and more than 80,000 detained. Additionally, university rectors are no longer elected by the vote of faculty but rather appointed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from a panel of candidates selected by the YOK. The first such appointment took place on November 12, 2016, when President [End Page xv] Erdogan appointed Mehmed Ozkan, instead of the democratically elected incumbent rector, Gulay Barbarosoglu, as rector of Bogazici University.

By January 6, 2017, the Turkish government had issued three new statutory decrees, which dismissed another 8390 civil servants, including 649 academics and more than a hundred administrative staff members. With the latest decrees, the number of academics to lose their jobs across the country has reached a total of 7,318.

Forty-one of the dismissed scholars were members of the Academics for Peace initiative, a group of scholars who, on January 10, 2016, six months before the coup, signed an open letter calling on the Turkish government to end its violence in the Kurdish provinces. The next day, Turkish President Erdogan accused the letter's organizers and signatories of treason. Following public prosecutions under Turkish antiterrorism laws, the YOK ordered university rectors to commence disciplinary investigations. Numerous suspensions, dismissals, and imprisonments followed.

More than 30 people have committed suicide in the wake of these actions, including mehmet fatih traş, a research assistant at Çukurova University, who committed suicide in his home on February 24, 2017, after he was fired from his job. Traş was one of the signatories of the Academics for Peace Declaration. The Adana branch of the Education Personnel Union (Eğitim Sen) released a statement concerning Traş's death on Saturday February 25, 2017, attributing his suicide to the psychological trauma he experienced after losing his position. On February 28, 2017, mustafa sadik akdağ, 34, an assistant professor in the faculty of dentistry at Ordu University in Turkey's Black Sea region, committed suicide, also apparently because of the psychological trauma he experienced from being investigated for alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement. Akdağ s left a suicide note in which he wrote, "Nobody is responsible for my death. An accusation was directed at me. I am referring those who directed this accusation at me to God." Turkish media report that Akdağ was recently interrogated by prosecutors due to his alleged links to the Gülen movement and released. [End Page xvi]

Arrested and Imprisoned: serkan golge, a 36-year-old NASA physicist of Turkish descent, was arrested on August 6, 2016, and on August 16 formally accused of involvement with the Gulen movement, which Turkey considers a terrorist organization. Golge has also been accused of spying for the CIA. He traveled to Turkey in late June, along with his wife and two sons, to visit family.

On July 23, 2016, istar gozaydin, chair of the Department of Sociology at Gediz University, was suspended from her position on the basis of her Twitter account. According to the official letter she received, tweets she sent on July 17, 2016, allegedly contained content implying "support for the coup attempt or criticism of those who opposed the coup." Gozaydin was taken into custody on December 20, 2016; and on December 27 she was arrested on charges of "being a member of a terrorist organization."

mehmet altan, a professor of economics at Istanbul University, who was detained along with his brother, journalist and author Ahmet Altan, on September 12, 2016, remains in custody after a hearing on his links with the Gulenist Movement. Both were arrested on September 12 as a result of their appearance on a Turkish TV channel one day before the July 15 coup attempt. According to the official statement issued by the court, Mehmet Altan had implied on the show that "a coup was imminent." The ruling stated that he was known for his pro-Gulenist views, and that he had changed his public perception to be supportive of a possible coup.

Fired from their positions, facing prosecution: On March 27, 2017, Isik University of Istanbul announced the dismissal of two of its faculty members, sinan birdal, assistant professor of international relations and Middle East studies, and nese yildiran, professor of humanities and art history. Reportedly, the university administration asked Yildiran and Birdal to remove their names from the Academics for Peace petition, and fired them when they rejected to fulfill the request. With the dismissal of Birdal, the total number of those who have been purged since July 15, 2016, comes to 7,318. [End Page xvii]

On June 19, 2016, zeynep sayin balikcioglu, a professor of German philology and member of the Faculty of Communication at Bilgi University, was fired after "insulting the Turkish president during a lecture" on June 18. halil ibrahim yenigun, an assistant professor of political science and International Relations, and the Foreign Relations Committee chairman of the Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples (Mazlum-Der), received a 40-day suspension for signing the Academics for Peace petition. He was dismissed from his position at Istanbul Commerce University after the publication of a column by a government mouthpiece targeting him.

nuriye gulmen, a comparative literature professor, was first suspended from her position in Selcuk University via a statutory decree in November 2016. To protest her suspension, Gulmen started a sit-in protest in the Turkish capital Ankara, where she was arrested 17 times over her 17-day long protest. She was subsequently fired from her position via the new statutory decrees released on January 6, 2017, and on January 11 she was beaten and detained by the police in Ankara.

On January 25, 2016, battal odabasi, an assistant professor of psychological guidance and counseling at the Faculty of Education of Istanbul Aydın University, was fired for signing the Academics for Peace declaration. orsan k. oymen, a philosophy professor at Isik University, faces up to four years in prison for an op-ed he published in the Aydınlık newspaper in April 2015. In that piece, Oymen suggested that the Turkish leader should be put on trial for a range of charges, including corruption and the violation of the constitution.

For full coverage of the crisis in higher education in Turkey and to sign our letter of protest, please visit https://tinyurl.com/turkey-esw.

Please send appeals to:

  • His Excellency Recep Tayyip Erdogan

  • President of Turkey

  • The Office of the President

  • 06573 Basbakanlik

  • Ankara

  • Turkey

  • Fax: +90 312 417 04 76 [End Page xviii]

  • His Excellency Bekir Bozdag

  • Minister of Justice

  • 06669 Kizilay

  • Ankara

  • Turkey

  • Fax: +90 312 419 3370

VIETNAM

Students who remain in prison are dinh nguyen kha, sentenced to eight years in prison, on charges of "conducting propaganda against the state" in May 2013. He was arrested in October 2012 for handing out leaflets critical of the government.

Please send appeals to:

  • His Excellency Trâ'n Đại Quang

  • President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

  • c/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs

  • Hanoi

  • Vietnam

RELEASES

We have learned that nguyen phuong uyen, the Vietnamese student arrested along with Dinh Nguyen Kha and sentenced to six years in prison, on charges of "conducting propaganda against the state" in May 2013, was been released in early 2016. According to her lawyer, Nguyen still has a suspended three-year sentence in addition to another 52 months of probation. We failed to report her release in our earlier reports as there has been no media coverage on her case in English media outlets.

SOURCES

Additional Information

ISSN
1944-768X
Print ISSN
0037-783X
Pages
v-xx
Launched on MUSE
2017-05-19
Open Access
No
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