Parwiz Mosamim represented USI at the SAR 2024 Global Congress

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Institutional Communication Service

5 July 2024

The SAR 2024 Global Congress was held from 25 to 27 June in Vilnius, Lithuania, in partnership with the European Humanities University (EHU). The annual congresses are SAR's largest network events. This year, over 200 participants, including leading scholars, advocates, students, and professionals from almost 60 countries, gathered to rethink issues of academic freedom and related values, learn from each other, and help shape SAR's agenda for the coming years.

The central theme of the SAR 2024 Global Congress was "Sustainable Knowledge: Lessons from Universities, Scholars, and Students in Exile." It sought to capture the experiences of academic communities forced into exile by political unrest, repression, disaster, and conflict, from Afghanistan to Ukraine, Belarus to Myanmar, Turkey to Sudan, Nicaragua to Israel/Palestine, and beyond.

The participants engaged in a wide array of discussions, from providing safety and establishing academic roles for scholars and students at risk to the role of institutions in protecting scholars at risk and helping them conduct their research freely and effectively. The diversity of topics, including making the most of a placement, navigating the academic job market (advanced), writing and applying for research grants, networking, building community, planning for transition, and mental wellness in transition, enriched the knowledge and understanding of all attendees.

SAR Switzerland, USI in particular, had a significant presence and meaningful involvement in the SAR 2024 Global Congress. Parwiz Mosamim, hosted as the first USI scholar at risk in 2021 and now a doctoral researcher at the Institute of Communication and Public Policy under the supervision of Prof. Jean-Patrick Villeneuve, participated as one of the panellists.

Parwiz was featured in the panel "Courage to Think," moderated by Roger Pfister from the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences and former Chair of SAR Switzerland. Mosamim discussed the situation of research, academic freedom, and higher education under the Taliban in Afghanistan, particularly that of women and journalism, and his research project on women's representation in the Afghan government's public administration system.

"In Afghanistan, the Taliban have virtually eliminated academic freedom. After August 2021, many Afghan scholars and intellectuals fled the country. Those who remained are facing severe restrictions by the Taliban. For instance, they are told/ordered what to teach and what not to. Also, Afghan scholars and researchers inside the country are not allowed to conduct their research projects freely - particularly the ones that directly or indirectly criticise the regime policies. Moreover, female students above the sixth grade are not allowed to go to schools, and the university doors are also shut for them".

Parwiz also added that what is happening under the Taliban is a "gender apartheid" policy that excludes girls and women from their fundamental rights, including the right to education and work. In his point of view, the severe policies implemented by the Taliban are against all international human rights laws and academic freedom.

"Some university lecturers and civil society activists, especially women protesters, have been jailed for criticising the regime's wrong policies, particularly regarding education restrictions and women's rights."

Parwiz Mosamim emphasised that Afghanistan will not have a legitimate, inclusive, and diverse government until the interests of all social groups, particularly women, are mirrored in the public administration system. Therefore, he believes his research is important for reconstructing the country's future inclusive, diverse, and legitimate PA system. This will be possible when the current gender apartheid policy is lifted under the Taliban.

In the end, Parwiz expressed gratitude to Scholars at Risk Network, SAR Switzerland, SNSF, ETH Zurich, and USI for their support during his current academic career. He also expressed his hope that scholars at risk hosted by academic institutions and countries would receive more protection in terms of finding employment and obtaining visa/residence permit extensions.

"USI has been not only an academic place for me but more of a home where I have found wonderful, kind, and supportive people. My current academic affiliation has helped me build a better academic network, participate in different courses as a teaching assistant, take part in various international academic conferences, get involved in some conferences about Afghanistan, and publish academic articles in high-ranked journals. Most of these would have been impossible without the constant support and belief of my PhD supervisor (Prof. Jean-Patrick Villeneuve) and my colleagues at USI."

More information on the Scholars at Risk programme, coordinated by the International Relations and Study Abroad service, at: https://www.usi.ch/en/university/info/relint/international-relations/other-activities

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