On the second day of the International Online Conference on Academic Freedom took place the discussion panel about the challenges for academic freedom in the international context. #AcademicRights #ForAcademicFreedom
The discussion panel had the participation of international scholars and researchers on the matter from Latin America and Europe. #AcademicRights #ForAcademicFreedom
During the discussion panel, scholars and researchers discussed the main challenges that have faced academic freedom in the international context, including threats and reprisals against university professors, students, and the university community in general.
Armando Chaguaceda, university professor, principal researcher at Government and Political Analysis AC, and member of the Association for Latin American Studies spoke on “Academia & (weak) democratic consensus in Latin America”.
Chaguaceda claimed in his presentation that authoritarianism does not support academic work. Young students, scholars, are suffering due to the attack of authoritarian governments.
Also, he highlighted that Leftist Militant Intellectual has become hegemonic in universities & research centers, characterized by the overrepresentation in academic institutions, public debates, and editorial production.
Chaguaceda encouraged the community and human rights NGO networks, to enhance the civic culture and democratic life of the institutions and processes of our imperfect democracies.
While, @bscharifker, Rector of the Metropolitan University of Caracas, focused on Venezuela’s scientific research and academic freedom challenges.
@bscharifker said that Venezuela has a parallelism system for higher education, that does not work with academic standards. Instead, the university is under the Venezuelan regime, and also the academic programs are controlled by the government and there is no academic freedom.
Prof. @bscharifker said that at the turn of the century, nearly 5 % of the scientific publications in Latin America came from Venezuelan laboratories, being the 5th producer of scientific knowledge in the region. Nowadays, it produces less than 1 % of knowledge in the region.
On the other hand, Ülkü Doğanay, a former professor at the University of Ankara (Turkey), spoke on Academic Freedom in Turkey.
Professor Ülkü was arbitrarily expelled from the University of Ankara after leading the Academics for Peace initiative. Nowadays she is a member of the “INSAN HAKLARI OKULU” School of Human Rights.
Professor Ülkü highlighted the increase of incarcerations of academics with authoritarian governments and their stakeholders, who can not tolerate the critical knowledge.
Also, she claimed that the atmosphere of fear created through dismissals and detentions are resignation campaigns affected negatively academia working on subjects which the government dislikes, making lecturers and students unable to do their jobs.
Professor Ülkü noted that an important problem is that the state of emergency was lifted 3 years ago, and the government actions against human rights and universities still continue.
Along with the ongoing legal struggle, Academics for Peace became evolved in solidarity networks known as "soldier academies" and continue to carry out the research and lectures under 224 of these organizations.
Also, Maggi Leung, Associate Professor of International Development Studies in the Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning at Utrecht University, spoke on the situation of Academic Freedom in Hong Kong and main concerns related to COVID-19.
Professor Maggi claimed at least 100 people have been arrested in the city, most targeted for the alleged participation in the academic freedom situation.
Also, she noted that at least 150 people have been arrested under the National Security Law, with most targeted for their alleged participation in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movements, political activity, or other expressions critical of Beijing.
"Among the arrested are members of the higher education community, including legal scholar Benny Tai, part-time lecturer Claudia Mo, and numerous students" claimed professor Maggi.
Maggi Leung highlighted an announcement by the education bureau saying the school should ensure all school staff upholds professional ethics, abide by the law, and observe the code of conduct acceptable to society, but all these, according to the National Security Council Law.
On the other hand, Ariel Ruiz Urquiola, Doctor in Biological Sciences, with a specialty in molecular and cellular biology, former researcher and former university professor at the University of Havana.
Ruiz Urquiola exposed his own testimony of threats and retaliation by the Cuban dictatorship. He noted that in 1990 it was the first time he received a threat from the political police at the service of the Castro family dictatorship.
“If you go to human rights groups and European embassies to report your father's case, we will veto your admission to the university, because it is for revolutionaries”, Chaguaceda quoted.
Ruiz Urquiola was the victim of several episodes of ideological discrimination by officials within the university and three expulsion events.
The first event was when he refused to sign the letter from Cuban intellectuals to those of the world, which called for the murder of three kidnappers from a boat to illegally emigrate to the United States, decreed by the "Council of State" as a public warning in 2003.
The second event was when he presented the results obtained in his research project on the biology and conservation of sea turtles in 2008.
The referred research project provided scientific evidence on Cuban overfishing of this marine resource, and their profits from the sale of their shell significantly benefited the Cuban dictatorship.
The third event was in 2016 when public officials fabricated a scenario of absences from work and disrespect for the university authority, with an ideological charge of counterrevolution to destroy his professional profile. Also, he was unfortunately incarcerated in 2018.
Lizzy Van Dijk (@lizzyvandijk), Coordinator of the “Shelter City Utrecht” program, spoke about the forced migration of academics in Venezuela and the Netherlands: Realities and challenges. #AcademicRights #ForAcademicFreedom
“Armed conflict and systematic restrictions on academic freedom have forced many scholars into exile. On the other hand, different national and transnational initiatives have been set up to support displaced and at-risk scholars." @lizzyvandijk stated.
@lizzyvandijk also added that the experiences of exiled scholars show how their stay in the Netherlands has been more than a refuge, and an opportunity for them, but also an opportunity for the Dutch society and academia. #AcademicRights #ForAcademicFreedom
Regarding the 230 academicians who left Venezuela contacted for the research, the exact reason for migration these scholars mentioned varies but is mostly linked to restrictions on academic freedom and other human rights.
The second session of the International Online Conference on Academic Freedom had the participation of @ahmedshaheed, United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of thought, religion, or belief, and visiting professor at the University of Essex.
In a special presentation, @ahmedshaheed spoke about the main considerations on the relation between the freedom of thought, religión, or belief, and academic freedom.
He stated that religious protection software by country parts of a broad range of issues that impact the freedom of thought including how technology may impact freedom of thought.
“The importance of freedom of thought and conscience as part of it, beyond individual self-development and for the important development of fights for peace and resilience” stated Rapporteur Shaheed.
@ahmedshaheed, also claimed “You can see immediately how important it is for society to have freedom of thought, religion, and reflection. But beliefs do not come out of anywhere, of course, they come from a thought process”.

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