On June 19, 2014, a paramilitary group reportedly circulated a document on social media issuing death threats against ten student representatives and aspiring student representatives from Colombia’s University of Pereira. The document demanded that the students leave campus within 40 days, and refrain from enrolling in classes. In addition, two of the students have reported being personally approached and threatened in the days following the publication of the document, one by a person with a gun.
The threatening document was reportedly signed by Aguilas Negras, a successor group to Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), a right wing paramilitary organization that was demobilized in Colombia in 2004-2006. A number of the threatened students are reportedly affiliated with the left wing opposition party Unión Patriótica. The rector of the university, Luis Enrique Arango, has publicly condemned the threats against the students, and has indicated that the university would be contacting police authorities to respond.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about violent threats against members of higher education communities. Such threats not only harm the immediate victims, but undermine academic freedom, institutional autonomy and the ability of higher education communities to serve their educational, research and social functions, harming all members of these communities and society generally.