In 1995, the Network of Concerned Historians (NCH) was established at the History Department of the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. Its was and still is to serve as a small observatory and to provide a bridge between international human-rights organizations campaigning for persecuted historians on the one hand and the global community of historians on the other. During the last two decades, NCH has participated in many such campaigns for cases in countries on all continents. NCH also produced 22 Annual Reports about the domain where history and human rights intersect. The most recent Annual Report, published in the summer of 2015 contained entries on 98 countries. Currently (as of April 2016), almost 1800 historians and others concerned with the past are on the NCH list.
The NCH website carries many documents, especially from the United Nations and international courts, relevant to its mandate, many of them in English, French, and Spanish, and frequently also in other languages. In addition, NCH collects codes of ethics of historians, archivists, and archaeologists from all over the world.
Why I support ISHA:
“In my decade-long research into the censorship of historians and during my coordination work for the Network of Concerned Historians, I have always used an inclusive definition of the term historian. Such a flexible definition includes, on the one hand, the professionals and trainees in the historical sector in the broad sense, such as historians appellation contrôlée, archivists, archaeologists, etc., but also history students. On the other hand, there are the non-historians who write popular or academic historical works such as novelists, scholars of related disciplines, journalists and politicians. History students form an integral part of the historical profession, although the academic freedom granted to them may differ from the freedom for academic historians in essential respects. Among the campaigns for persecuted historians in which the Network of Concerned Historians participated between 1995 and 2012, there were six students who either studied history or were persecuted for history-related reasons: Wang Dan (China) in 1996–1998, Ko Aung Tun (Myanmar) in 1998–2009, Wael Ali Farraj (Palestinian Authority) in 1998, Badada Bayene (Ethiopia) in 2000, Emrullah Karagoz (Turkey) in 2001–2002, Fernanda Sanssone (Argentina) in 2002, Mehrnoushe Solouki (Iran/Canada) in 2007–2008 and Jabbar Savalan (Azerbaijan) in 2011–2012. From even this brief list it is obvious that threats to history students and related student categories occur on all continents; they constitute proof a contrario for the important role that students play in many countries, either as young intellectuals or as journalistic, political or human rights activists. Although it is impossible to agree a priori with the views of these history students, it is important to be aware of their frequently inspiring, potentially powerful but also vulnerable role. ISHA demonstrates this awareness, which, therefore, deserves my full support.”
Antoon De Baets
Contact: Antoon De Baets, Coordinator of the Network of Concerned Historians