Two members of the Central Council of Advar-e Tahkim Vahdat, a representative body of Islamic student associations in Iran, have been detained by Iranian security forces, Advar News reported on 22 August.
Hassan Asadi Ziedabadi was detained at his home by security forces and Ali Jamali was arrested at work. No information has been provided on the reason for their arrests.
Both individuals have previously faced persecution for their involvement in student politics.
Ziedabadi was detained in September 2009 and was released on bail after 40 days in detention. Jamaali had been regularly summoned to security agencies and had received threats in recent weeks.
Students in ’Islamic Associations’ are the biggest pro-democracy student groups in Iranian universities.
Three members of Advar-e Tahkim Vahdat are currently being held in prison : Ahmad Ziedabadi, secretary ; Abdollah Momeni, speaker ; and Ali Malihi, head of public relations.
An Iranian student leader, described as "one of the most prominent symbols of Iran’s embattled student movement", has been moved from Evin prison to Rajaeeshahr without his family or lawyer being informed, Radio Free Europe reported on 18 August.
Majid Tavakoli is one of Iran’s best-known student activists, and was arrested in December 2009 after accusing the government of human rights abuses during a rally at Amirkabir University. He is being held without charge.
Tavakoli is one of 17 political prisoners who recently went on a hunger strike to protest their treatment in prison.
Tavakoli’s brother told Radio Free Europe that the family’s last contact with Majid was over three weeks ago, and that they had only heard of his transfer through a friend at Rajaeeshahr who had seen Majid in the quarantine section.
Following his arrest in 2009, state media broadcast photos of Tavakoli dressed in hijab, accusing him of disguising himself as a woman following the protest.
This launched the ’Be a Man’ campaign, in which hundreds of men uploaded photos of themselves dressed in hijab to show solidarity.
In 2009, Majid Tavokoli and Abdollah Momeni jointly won the Homo Homini award, which recognises those who have significantly contributed to human rights protection.
A mathematics professor was arbitrarily detained by Vietnamese authorities on 13 August on charges of belonging to a banned political group, Radio Free Asia reported on 18 August.
Professor Pham Minh Hoang, mathematics professor at the Ho Chi Minh City Polytechnic Institute, and his wife Le Thi Kieu Oanh, were interrogated at a police station in Ho Chi Minh on 11 August.
It is claimed that Hoang has links to Viet Tan, the US-based Vietnam Reform Party, labeled a terrorist group by the Vietnamese Communist Party.
Hoang was charged with "opposing the people’s administration" under Vietnamese Penal Code Article 79, which can lead to a sentence of imprisonment or even death. His current location in unknown.
It is claimed that Hoang has been targeted due to his support for protests against Chinese-run bauxite mines in Vietnam’s Central Highlands.
Opposition has been vocal towards the mines, particularly from scientists, activists and legislators concerned with their environmental impact. According to Frontline Defenders, Huong is also being investigated due to leadership training courses he has offered his students.
A lecturer in Engineering was detained by authorities in Bahrain on 13 August, Human Rights Watch reported on 17 August.
Dr Abduljalil al-Singace, who teaches engineering at the University of Bahrain, was arrested at Bahrain International Airport as he returned from London with his family.
Al-Singace is a prominent human rights defender, acting as spokesman and director of the Human Rights Bureau of the Haq Movement for Civil Liberties and Democracy, an opposition political organisation.
While in the UK, al-Singace attended a seminar on Bahrain at the House of Lords, where he criticised Bahrain’s human rights practices.
Al-Singace has been accused of "inciting violence and terrorist acts", and the government has refused to provide lawyers or family members with information regarding his whereabouts or reasons for his arrest. He is disabled and restricted to a wheelchair, and his family is concerned for his health.
al-Singace has faced travel bans, arrest and media defamation over the past two years by the Bahrain authorities, Frontline Defenders reported on 15 August.
He was arrested in January 2009, in relation to an alleged "terror plot", and in February that year he and eight other human rights defenders took part in a hunger strike in protest against the detention of other human rights defenders.
Three other opposition activists were also arrested on 15 August.
Visa restrictions on academic, religious and cultural groups traveling to Cuba from the US may be eased by the Obama administration, the New York Times reported on 16 August.
The easing of visa restrictions for US citizens aims to increase contact between residents of both countries, particularly increasing interaction between academic, religious and cultural groups in both countries and facilitating the sharing of expertise.
In effect, this would mean the expansion of groups currently permitted visas, rather than the creation of new visa regulations.
At the present time, only accredited universities can apply for academic visas and individuals such as academic researchers are only permitted to stay in the country a short time.
Under the proposal, academic institutions and individual academics would be able to seek licences for stays of up to two years.
This follows on from Raul Castro’s decision last month to release dozens of political prisoners, including a number of independent librarians and trade unionists.
Officials have said that the announcement could be made as early as this week, but no final decision has yet been made.
The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (Codesria), the Network for Education and Academic Rights (NEAR) and the Scholars at Risk Network (SAR) held a working meeting on academic freedom in Dakar, Senegal, on 18-19 August.
This followed a series of workshops held by NEAR and SAR, together with partnerships worldwide, to raise awareness of academic freedom and related values, including access, accountability and transparency, academic freedom and quality, autonomy and good governance, and social responsibility.
At a NEAR-SAR workshop in Ethiopia in October 2008, the African Academic Freedom Network was formed and later expanded into West Africa.
The event brought together African scholars, human rights leaders and researchers from Algeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa to explore possible joint proposals for research, advocacy and campaigning projects to increase understanding and respect for academic freedom and protection for scholars in Africa.
Particular focus was given to issues of national, regional and international standards on academic freedom, legal advocacy, and campaigns on issues of mobility and gender.
Further information available on the CODESRIA website
by Roisin Joyce
Roisin joyce is Deputy Director of the Network for Education and Academic Rights, NEAR.