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: October 29, 2013

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Institution(s):Ahfad University

Region & Country:Northern Africa | Sudan

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On October 29, Sudanese authorities reportedly raided a meeting at Ahfad University in Khartoum, arresting and detaining nine university professors.  The professors were reportedly released the next day.
Sudan has seen significant civil unrest since September, when the national government cut fuel subsidies in an effort to ease financial hardship caused in part by the 2011 secession of South Sudan.   The cut sparked widespread protests, some of which have led to violent conflict, including alleged killings of dozens of civilian protestors by Sudanese security services.
At the time of the arrests, the professors were engaged in a meeting to discuss establishing a unified stand against the government crackdown on protestors.  As of this report, it is not clear whether the professors were charged with any crime prior to their release. 
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the wrongful arrest and detention of academic personnel engaged in the non-violent exercise of protected human rights, including freedom of expression and association.  In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and undermine democratic society generally.  That harm is compounded when such attacks occur on campus, thus undermining institutional autonomy.  While Scholars at Risk is pleased to learn of the professors’ release, such incidents nevertheless violate state authorities’ responsibility to refrain from arbitrary arrests and detention of scholars in the first instance.