On May 5, 2016, National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) officers reportedly attacked and detained a group of student activists who were meeting with lawyers to appeal disciplinary proceedings launched by the University of Khartoum as a result of their political activism.
Reports indicate that on May 3 university officials ordered the dismissal of as many as 17 students in connection to their involvement in recent student-led demonstrations regarding the selling of university property. On May 5 a group of students named in the dismissal order went to the office of prominent human rights lawyer Nabil Adib to seek his assistance in appealing the university’s decision. During their meeting, as many as 15 plain-clothed NISS officers raided Mr. Adib’s office, claiming that he was holding an illegal meeting. The officers reportedly beat and detained nine students, as well as Hamid Omar Digno, a family representative of one of the dismissed students, and four of Mr. Adib’s employees. In addition, the officers reportedly confiscated equipment and legal files during the raid, including those belonging to the students.
As of this report, nine of the detained students remain detained incommunicado without charge. They include Hassan Alday Mohammed, Mohammed Almahjoub Otaiba, Mudasir Tayseer Mudasir, Mai Adil Ibrahim, Hussein Yahya Haran, Badr Alddin Salah Mohammed, Wifag Gurashi, Ahmed Abdel Hakam, and Mohamed Adam Hassan Abuzarga. The four employees detained in the raid were released later that evening after an interrogation by NISS officers. Mr. Digno and a tenth student detained during the raid, whose name remains undisclosed, have since been released.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about violence, incommunicado detention, and related attacks on students and their lawyers and representatives, in retaliation against their peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and association – conduct which is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Higher education leaders and state authorities have a responsibility to protect academic freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of association, and to refrain from retaliating against the exercise of those rights. Disciplinary proceedings, physical violence and imprisonment aimed at limiting the rights to free expression and association by students undermine academic freedom, university autonomy and democratic society generally.