Ireland should use its role on Security Council to highlight attacks on freedom of expression, says IFUT

New report shows attacks on university freedom in 65 countries last year alone

The Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) has called on the Irish government to use its influence as a member of the UN Security Council to address appalling attacks on students and staff in higher education around the world.

Frank Jones, General Secretary of IFUT, was commenting following the release today (Thurs Dec 9th) of a new report, Free to Think 2021, published by Scholars at Risk (SAR), which lists examples of ‘severe and violent attacks’ on higher education in 65 countries worldwide in the past year alone.

The report lists widespread abuses now occurring even in traditionally democratic states, including detentions of students and college staff in Brazil, use of anti-terrorism laws against universities in India and repression and political appointments to control universities in Turkey.

Even more virulent assaults are occurring elsewhere, such as armed raids on university campuses in Nigeria, lethal force against students and faculties in Myanmar and assassinations and targeting of entire academic communities in Afghanistan.

Frank Jones said that “staff and students alike in higher education are becoming an increasing focus of attack internationally by authoritarian governments seeking to to thwart democracy and freedom of expression”. 

IFUT is a participant in SAR-Ireland, which works to highlight abuses and support colleagues and students internationally affected by repression. 

Frank Jones said that “The Irish government needs to do far more to support the many thousands of victims of assault on freedom of expression.  This is particularly important and relevant given Ireland’s current membership of the UN Security Council.”

He praised and welcomed initiatives here at university level to support those under assault internationally, through the work of SAR-Ireland and universities Ireland, which provides support to threatened academics around the world, including arranging temporary placements in Ireland to allow them to safely continue their work.

Scholars at Risk Europe is hosted at Maynooth University, a new EU-funded InSPIREEurope initiative supporting researchers at risk was launched in October 2019, while a new Sanctuary Award from University of Sanctuary Ireland encourages welcoming of refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants into university communities and fostering a culture of inclusion for all those seeking sanctuary. 


Free To think 2021 Read the report