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: April 30, 2014

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Ambo University

Region & Country:Eastern Africa | Ethiopia

New or Ongoing:Ongoing Incident

On April 30, 2014, Ethiopian federal police reportedly fired live ammunition at a group of student protesters at Ambo University, in the Oromia region of Ethiopia, killing at least 9 people.
Since April 25, 2014, students had been demonstrating throughout the Oromia region against the planned expansion of the Ethiopian Capital, Addis Ababa, which they allege would encroach on land owned by Oromo farmers.  In response, Ethiopian security forces have reportedly beaten and fired live ammunition against protesting crowds.  While the Ethiopian government has confirmed the death toll at nine, witnesses have reported as many as 47 people killed in the attacks.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the apparent use of disproportionate force by police against students engaged in the non-violent exercise of protected human rights, including free speech and association.  In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, 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.