Publication Date: December 2021

Free to Think 2021 documents 332 attacks on higher education communities in 65 countries and territories. This year was marked by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed more than five million lives.

Armed groups and individuals carried out severe, violent attacks on higher education communities. These included attacks in countries experiencing extremism or conflict, where higher education communities may be targeted as perceived symbols of state authority or sources of opposition to radical ideologies.

State authorities detained, prosecuted, and used other coercive legal measures to punish and restrict scholars’ and students’ research, teaching, and extramural expression and associations, often under laws or on grounds ostensibly related to national security, terrorism, sedition, and defamation.

Higher education officials suspended, fired, and took other disciplinary actions against faculty and students for their academic work and extramural expressive activities, including expression critical of their institutions and participation in protests and social movements.

Attacks on student expression remained an all-too-frequent subset of reported incidents. In the past year, SAR reported on more than 140 incidents involving attacks on student expression, including violent attacks, arrests and prosecutions, and disciplinary measures.

Scholars at Risk calls on states, higher education communities, and civil society around the world to respond to these attacks.

Tags: Freedom of expression SLAPP Turkey Belarus

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