Education International
Education International

EI protests against arrest of German academic

published 4 September 2007 updated 4 September 2007

EI which represents the voice of educators worldwide, including professionals in the higher education and research sector, condemns the arrest of German academic, Andrej Holm.

Andrej Holm, who specialises in urban gentrification at Berlin's Humboldt University, was arrested on 31 July on suspicion of aiding a militant organisation suspected of carrying out more than 25 arson attacks in Berlin since 2001. The federal prosecutor's office arrested Holm under paragraph 129a of the anti-terrorism law, citing the repeated use of words such as "gentrification" and "inequality" in his academic papers, terms similar to those used by the urban activist organisation "Militante Gruppe" (MG). According to the prosecution report the frequency of the overlap between words used by Holm and the group was "striking, and not to be explained through a coincidence". Apart from his academic work, the federal prosecutor has no other basis to arrest Holm. According to EI member organisation, the Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft (GEW), "the problem is that the rationale followed by the federal prosecutor's office is a direct threat to all those who pursue and publicly defend critical studies in the sciences and humanities. Andrej Holm's scientific work is the direct object of the investigations against him and the only one reason for being suspicious of him. This is a clear violation of academic freedom." An open letter to Monika Harms, the federal prosecutor, is online and has already been signed by more than 3500 supporters. "We strongly object to the notion of intellectual complicity adopted by the federal prosecutor's office in its investigation... such arguments allow any piece of academic writing to be potentially incriminating," wrote the academics in the letter. "Academic freedom is a fundamental right of all education personnel, and this case shows that that right is being undermined because of the clear absence of any other evidence. EI strongly defends academic right and encourages member organisations and partners around the world to show their belief in that right by signing the open letter," commented EI General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen. The recent EI World Congress held in Berlin passed a resolution on "Higher Education and Research as a Public service". In the resolution, it is stated that "higher education teaching personnel and research staff are entitled to academic freedom which includes the right, without restriction by prescribed doctrine, to freedom of teaching and discussion, freedom in carrying out research and disseminating and publishing the results thereof, freedom to express freely their opinion about the institution or system in which they work, freedom from institutional censorship and freedom to participate in professional or representative academic bodies".

To sign the open letter, please go to: http://www.freeandrej.net.ms/ Andrej Holm has now been released on bail but the accusations against him still stand.