In the spotlight
Supporting Syrian higher education in crisis: Spotlight on IIE’s Scholar Rescue Fund
The CHR engages regularly with the Institute of International Education Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE-SRF), which supports threatened scholars worldwide by providing fellowships for academics that face threats to their lives and careers in their home countries. These fellowships help scholars continue their work in safety at partnering academic institutions worldwide. At the spring 2016 meeting of the CHR, James King, IIE-SRF Assistant Director, spoke to members about IIE-SRF’s work, including its vital support of Syrian scholars during the 21st century’s worst humanitarian crisis. To read an overview of their work with threatened Syrian scholars and view video clips of James King’s presentation to the CHR, please click here.
Health Professionals and Human Rights
During the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) Annual Meeting, Leonard Rubenstein, Director of the Program on Human Rights, Health and Conflict (Center for Public Health and Human Rights) at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Dr. Denis Mukwege, founder and medical director of Panzi Hospital in the DRC, spoke to NAM members about attacks against healthcare professionals globally and the importance of supporting the work of medical professionals in conflict zones. In the video interviews below, both speakers draw attention to the role that health professionals and the international medical community can play in advancing human rights.
Health Professionals and Human Rights: A Conversation with Leonard Rubenstein from The Academies on Vimeo.
Working to Address, and to End, Gender-Based Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): A Conversation with Dr. Mukwege from The Academies on Vimeo.
Check out CHR’s New Infographics
The Committee on Human Rights (CHR) has recently developed three visual data sets, or infographics, to highlight our advocacy in support of scientists, engineers and health professionals worldwide who have been targeted for their human rights or professional work. Each infographic provides a regional breakdown of our current* and resolved cases and types of abuse suffered by colleagues. Each also provides a snapshot of “member correspondents” of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine who lend support to the work of the CHR.
* Data is taken from 2015.
Appeals Court Dismisses Tunisian Mathematician’s Case and Orders His Release
February 23, 2016
In the evening of February 5, 2016, Tunisian mathematician Abdelfattah Saied was freed from al-Mornaguia Prison in Tunis after almost seven months in prison. His case was dismissed earlier that day by a court of appeals after all charges against him were dropped.
Mr. Saied is a mathematics teacher and recipient of the 2009 Tunisian Ministry of Education’s “Innovative Teacher Award”, a computer programmer, and a poet. In July 2015, after posting a video on the Internet in which he speculated that security forces may have been linked to the planning of the June 2015 attack on a seaside resort in Sousse in which 38 tourists were killed, Mr. Saied was arrested by counter-terrorism police. Although subsequently charged with “complicity in or facilitation of terrorism” under the 2003 counter-terrorism law, “defaming a public servant,” and “knowingly broadcasting false news to convince others of the existence of a criminal act,” he was found innocent of the defamation charges at trial, and the terror charges were dropped. In November 2015, Mr. Saied was convicted of “knowingly broadcasting false news” and was sentenced to one year in prison. During his imprisonment, he reportedly was denied medical treatment for a preexisting back condition.
The CHR appealed to high-level Tunisian officials for Mr. Saied’s release from prison on the grounds that he was convicted for peacefully expressing his opinion. The rights to freedom of opinion and expression are protected under international human rights law and include the right to publicly criticize officials and institutions.
Executive Committee of the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies (H.R. Network) Issues Statement Concerning Threats to Turkish Scholars
“The International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies (H.R. Network) supports and defends the right of fellow academics, anywhere in the world, to peacefully express their lawful opinions and concerns. We, the members of the H.R. Network’s Executive Committee, are alarmed by the increasingly repressive and inflammatory reaction by Turkish government leaders, many university officials, and other intolerant individuals toward hundreds of our Turkish colleagues, solely because they publicly expressed humanitarian concerns about the grave crisis in south eastern Turkey.”
As of Monday, January 25, 2016, 30 Nobel Laureates had endorsed the January 19, 2016 Statement by the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies regarding the plight of Turkish academics.
See list of names. See Statement.
*The CHR, as a committee of the NAS, NAE, and NAM, is a member of the H.R. Network and hosts its Secretariat
Science Article Highlights Crackdown Against Turkish Academics
“Human rights organizations as well as the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine have criticized Turkey and called on it to respect freedom of speech… The U.S. National Academies "will continue to monitor the situation closely," says Martin Chalfie, the Nobel Prize–winning chemist who chairs the Academies’ Committee on Human Rights in Washington, DC.”
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