In the spotlight
Executive Committee of H.R. Network Issues Statement in Support of Turkish Academics
September 9, 2016
On Sept 1st, the Turkish government issued a decree dismissing more than 2,000 academic personnel from their positions and permanently banning them from public service, together with over 40,000 public service employees. More than 40 of the academics have been subjected to harassment since January, when they signed a public petition expressing concerns about the humanitarian crisis in southeastern Turkey.
The Executive Committee of the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies (H.R. Network) has been closely following events in Turkey and is deeply concerned about the continued repressive measures against academics (the Committee on Human Rights serves as Secretariat for the H.R. Network). On September 9, the Executive Committee issued a public statement calling for the government of Turkey to ensure that all scholars who have been removed from their positions solely as a result of having peacefully exercised internationally protected rights are reinstated without delay and that no punitive measures are taken without procedural protections for the individuals concerned. See full statement here.
Iranian Physicist Omid Kokabee Granted Parole
August 30, 2016
After more than five years in state custody, Omid Kokabee—an Iranian physicist and Ph.D. student at the University of Texas—has been granted freedom on parole. The CHR would like to thank its many Correspondents who appealed for his release over the years.
Mr. Kokabee was arrested in Iran in February 2011, while visiting his family during the university’s winter break. In 2012, he was convicted on charges related to contact with a hostile government and sentenced to 10 years in prison. In a letter smuggled out of prison, Mr. Kokabee indicated that his arrest came on the heels of his refusal to work on security and military nuclear energy-related projects. Amnesty International considered him to be a prisoner of conscience “imprisoned for spurious charges arising solely from his refusal to work on military projects in Iran and his legitimate scholastic ties with academic institutions outside of Iran.”
Mr. Kokabee—who has long suffered from kidney stones, as well as stomach inflammation, intestinal bleeding, and dental problems without access to medical care—was taken to the hospital on an emergency basis in mid-April 2016. A urologist there diagnosed him with advanced stage renal cell carcinoma and recommended immediate surgery. Shortly thereafter Mr. Kokabee was transferred to a hospital with an advanced urology unit, and, on April 20, his right kidney was removed. One month later, he was granted temporary medical leave after his friends posted the required bail of 5 billion Iranian rials (U.S. $165,000). Every two weeks he was required to apply for his medical leave to be extended. Throughout his imprisonment, the CHR repeatedly requested that Mr. Kokabee receive medical care for his severely deteriorating health.
Exploring the Tensions Between National Security and Academic Freedom
During the 153rd annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences, Lisa Anderson, political scientist and former president of the American University in Cairo, spoke at a session convened by the Committee on Human Rights on academic freedom, human rights, and national security. Dr. Anderson's talk, published in Science Diplomacy, addressed global challenges to academic freedom and offered ways in which scientists can respond to such challenges. To see the full version of the article, click here.
Global Scientific Community Expresses Alarm Concerning Repressive Measures Taken Against Turkish Academics
The global scientific community has expressed concern over the repressive measures being taken against Turkish academics following the attempted military coup on July 15. Martin Chalfie, Chair of the Committee on Human Rights of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine commented on the situation, noting that “(p)rotecting national security should not be incompatible with safeguarding fundamental rule of law and human rights principles.” Read more.
Executive Committee of the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies (H.R. Network) Issues Statement Concerning Repressive Measures against Turkish Academics
July 25, 2016
Members of the H.R. Network’s Executive Committee have closely followed events in Turkey following the attempted military coup on July 15 and are deeply concerned about the increasingly repressive measures being taken against Turkish academics. In the days since the attempted coup, the travel of academics has been restricted, Turkish academics abroad have been instructed to return to Turkey, more than 1,500 deans at universities throughout the country have been asked to tender their resignations, and hundreds of academics have been suspended from their posts.
Members of the Network’s Executive Committee have called for the government of Turkey to ensure that all measures taken in the interest of security are consistent with Turkey’s obligations under international human rights law. See full statement.
CHR at a Glance
The Committee on Human Rights (CHR) has produced a new infographic that provides a snapshot of our current and resolved cases concerning scientists, health professionals, and engineers around the world subjected to severe human rights abuses - whether as a result of their professional work or for having peacefully exercised their right to freedom of expression. The infographic also demonstrates the active support we enjoy from members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and highlights our engagement with UNESCO's human rights complaint body.
* Data is taken from July 2016
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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. Read an overview of their work with threatened Syrian scholars and view video clips of James King’s presentation to the CHR.
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 Infographics
The Committee on Human Rights (CHR) has developed three visual data sets 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.
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