SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: September 21, 2012

Attack Types: Other

Institution(s):Kabul Education University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Afghanistan

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On October 8, 2012 several students from Kabul Education University of Rabbani were assaulted and arrested during a protest on campus.
Students had been peacefully protesting at the university since September 21, when Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced the decision to rename the university, formerly known as Kabul Education University, in honor of Afghanistan’s former President Burhanuddin Rabbani. It is reported that the students were assaulted by supporters of the name change, many of whom were local Tajiks not affiliated with the university. According to some reports, at least 20 students were arrested.
Students have since called off their protests after a compromise was reached with the Ministry of Higher Education. It was agreed that the university would be known as the Kabul Education University of Rabbani, but that current four-year students’ diplomas would be issued under the university’s former name, Kabul Education University.
Rabbani, was the leader of the Jamiat-i-Islami party, an ethnic Tajik-centered group which fought in several conflicts in Afghanistan, and was considered by objectors of the name change to be responsible for gross human rights violations. He was assassinated in 2011 by the Taliban while trying to negotiate reconciliation with the group. 
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the apparent interference with students’ right to express peacefully their views on university-related matters on campus. State and university authorities have a responsibility to protect students from violence on campus and not to interfere with their right to expressive activity, so long as that activity is undertaken peacefully and responsibly.