Freedom of science and the safety of the academic community must be guaranteed amidst war and conflicts

The Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers is an equal and international community that believes in civilisation and scientific knowledge as guarantees of democracy and well-being. We demand that freedom of science and the safety of researchers be guaranteed amidst war and conflicts.

We are deeply shocked about the situation in Gaza and are extremely concerned about the safety of our Palestinian and Israeli colleagues both within the areas of Palestine and Israel as well as elsewhere around the world. We condemn all acts of violence against civilians and demand a permanent ceasefire in order to allow humanitarian aid to reach those in need in the Gaza area.

Universities in both Israel and Palestine are in a state of emergency due to the war: research activities have been halted entirely, teaching is now being carried out online, and the freedom of science is being restricted. [1] [2] Members of the university communities have been killed in attacks both in Israel and Palestine, researchers have been silenced and harassed for criticising the acts of the Israeli government, and both Jewish and Palestinian researchers have had to face harassment within research communities worldwide. [3] [4]

Racism and discrimination must not be given room – antisemitism, islamophobia, or other activities that incite discrimination and hatred towards or because of religious beliefs are absolutely unacceptable in international research communities and universities. Universities, also those in Finland, must ensure the safety, in particular, of any researchers, teachers, or experts who are affected by this war, and, for example, occupational health care services must be guaranteed by universities and other workplaces for those touched personally by the situation. The entire academic community must have the right to a safe working environment everywhere, and each individual in that community must have the right to continue their research work free from persecution and discrimination.

The role of researchers as conveyors of scientific knowledge is vital, also amidst this conflict. We encourage the entire academic community to contribute their expertise to the discussion and to emphasise their wish for a permanent state of peace within the State of Palestine. We appeal to the international research community and universities around the world to support researchers, teachers, and experts who are touched by this war and are, as a result, facing danger and persecution. The freedom of science must always be guaranteed, even under exceptional conditions.

Further information:

Tero Karjalainen, President