Athenai Institute
Twitter and Instagram: @athenaiisnt

On Feb 18, Nury Turkel warned the world that “China’s tools of monitoring and surveillance are spreading acorss the globe, making it readily available for authoritarian governments to suppress populations that they find bothersome.” Mr. Turkel’s timely warning has not gone unheeded. On May 13, 2020, the Athenai Institute and more than one dozen nonprofits and student groups joined together to urge universities to close Confucius Institutes, disclose ties to authoritarian governments, and establish mechanisms and policies to prevent such government from encroaching on academic discourse. In an open letter appeal released this morning, leaders from fifteen prominet nonprofit organizations, student groups, and the youth wings of both major political parties joined in calling for dramatic steps to defend the integrity of the U.S. acaddemic institutions from the influence of a totalitarian regime.

The Athenai Institute is a 501(c)(3) bi-partisan nonprofit founded in May 2020 dedicated to defending the academic and financial integrity of universities and academia in the face of sustained efforts by the government of the People’s Republic of China to limit free discussion of human rights abuses on university campuses in the United States. Athenai builds on a long history of student-led activism and represents a growing consensus that the Chinese government’s human rights abuses — including the construction of brutal concentration camps, the use of members of the Uyghur minority as forced labor, and the arrest and disappearance of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong and mainland China — demand global action. Dr. Yang Jianli, a Chinese dissident and survivor of the Tiananmen Square Massacre of 1989, serves on Athenai’s Board of Directors.


Athenai’s letter is signed by prominent human rights organizations representing members of the Uyghur, Chinese, Taiwanese, Tibetan, Vietnamese, and Hong Konger communities, and by student groups based around the country, including dozes of state and national leaders of the College Democrats and College Republicans. In the coming weeks, Athenai will unveil its first wave of campus chapters around the country. These chapters, and dozes of others to follow, will work to transform our movement’s growing momentum into concrete action on their respectivecampuses. This letter is only the beginning.

“Individuals/Organizations that want to be included in the letter can do so on our website.