US travel bans impacting Australian doctors


By Mardi Chapman

1 Feb 2017

An anaesthetist from Monash University has publicly withdrawn his peer-review support to several US based medical journals in protest at the US government’s ban on travel and immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries.

Protesters argue the ban, which has affected Australians with dual citizenship in the nominated countries, is discriminatory and threatens higher education and research activities.

Anaesthetist and senior research fellow at Monash University Associate Professor Stuart Marshall went public on Twitter with his letter to six US-based medical journals withdrawing his regular, peer-review contributions.

“Your organisation and several others that I perform pro bono work for in the scientific community benefit financially from my work and pays taxes to the US government,” the letter said.

“This government has decided to systematically discriminate against academics and others on the basis of race, religion and nationality. Henceforth, I do not wish to directly or indirectly support this action.”

Associate Professor Marshall told the limbic his action was a personal statement of solidarity with affected colleagues, however the level of interest and support he received had surprised him.

“It’s a small symbolic act on my part but I will only reconsider if the situation changes.”

He said many colleagues were also indicating they would take action such as boycotting US conferences.

Universities Australia chief executive Belinda Robinson also condemned the ban.

“The ban has the potential to adversely affect research collaboration, academic conference participation, student exchange programs and postdoctoral work,” she said.

In the US, the Association of American Universities, which represents many of the most prestigious institutions, has called for a speedy end to the Executive Order.

A separate US petition, Academics Against Immigration Executive Order, has attracted over 12,000 signatures including from 44 Nobel Laureates.

The petition says the ban will damage American leadership in higher education and research and disrupt the lives of ‘our students, friends, colleagues and members of our communities’.

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