The Serbian government is attempting to “muzzle and perhaps even eliminate” the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory at the University of Belgrade, according to faculty there.
In a call for solidarity, researchers associated with the institute describe what has been happening:
The Serbian government has appointed a new Governing Board that includes several highly controversial political figures. For example, Zoran Avramović, the nominated President of the Board, was promoted to official leading positions in the Ministry of Education by the right-wing Radical Party of Vojislav Šešelj (who was sentenced by the Hague Tribunal). Avramović has already intimated what he thinks of the institute when he urged for suspension of financing for the IFDT Regional Centre in Novi Sad. The current Acting Director uses repressive measures that indicate what the future of the institute will look like (threats to suspend salaries, attempts to curb the freedom of the Institute’s Scientific Council, junior researchers put under pressure, international projects suspended, etc.).
The moves are of a piece with other problematic developments in Serbia:
Democracy, and specifically the scientific and education landscape in Serbia, is increasingly under threat. There are few remaining free media. The current attempt to muzzle and perhaps even eliminate an autonomous academic institution like IFDT further weakens Serbian democracy. What is more, these attempts are being conducted as quietly as possible because publicity in this matter does not suit either the politically installed Governing Board or the Serbian Government. Freedom of opinion and freedom of science must be defended through European solidarity of colleagues and intellectuals.
The researchers then state their demands, including:
- the immediate replacement of the IFDT Governing Board with scientific experts, namely representatives of an open and democratic scientific culture
- respect [of] the wishes of the Institute researchers and employees in electing the new Institute Director.
- the institute must be allowed to regain its political and institutional independence.
You can read the entire call for solidarity and add your name to it here. At the time of this post over 450 scholars from around the world have signed.
Further information here.
(via Olga Nikolić)