OPEN LETTER IN SUPPORT OF PROFESSOR ANNE-MARIE BRADY
The Scholars for Liberty Association (Associação Docentes pela Liberdade) brings together hundreds of conservative faculty and researchers from different areas of knowledge and from all parts of Brazil, around the mission of promoting freedom of speech and independence of scientific production in all its forms, particularly within the academic sector in Brazilian Universities.
Thus, it was with extreme concern that we received the news that Dr. Anne-Marie Brady, distinguished Professor at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, has become the target of a harassment campaign, having received several threats due to the report of facts described in her article “Holding a Pen in One Hand, Gripping a Gun in the Other”, which was submitted to the New Zealand Parliament’s Justice Select Committee a few months ago. In her article, Dr. Brady describes in detail how the Chinese Communist Party (PCCh) uses New Zealand´s own civilian channels, such as universities and high-tech companies, to obtain technology and to access scientific knowledge intended for military purposes, which is a violation of domestic laws and of some international agreements signed by New Zealand.
For us, it seems rather surprising that an academic reference such as the University of Canterbury conducts an internal investigation and an formal academic review of Dr. Brady’s scientific work based on allegations that is contains “manifest errors of fact and misleading inferences”, as a consequence of political pressure from individuals and affluent groups dissatisfied with her work.
We, as members of Scholars for Liberty Association, believe that this unfortunate episode does not align with the most basic principles of freedom of speech, independence of scientific production, individual responsibility, and the search for truth in the academic environment which are still valid even if it involves sensitive issues or controversial topics. It is important to emphasize that no academic work is immune from criticism, but it must be held by the peer review system and based on a consistent theoretical foundation, neither, in this particular case, seem to be the case.
As Benjamin Israeli (1804 – 1881) rightly said, “the university should be a place of light, of liberty, and learning”. Nevertheless, the present case is a clear example that freedom of speech and independence of scientific production, as well as common sense and scientific reasoning, is under serious threat, in such a way that urgent measures are needed so that those principles reign sovereignly in global academia. After all, they are the pillars not only of universities and the resulting scientific progress, but also of any democratic society.
Scholars for Liberty Association