On the morning of March 3, 2015, unidentified individuals killed Professor Gilles Cistac, a Franco-Mozambican legal scholar at the University of Eduardo Mondlane and a former government adviser.
Professors Cistac was attempting to enter a taxi outside a café in Maputo when four individuals driving by in a car reportedly shot him. Professor Cistac was then taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. As of this report, the attackers remain unidentified.
In February 2015, Professor Cistac drew strong criticism from state-run media and Mozambique’s ruling party, Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (FRELIMO), after he reportedly affirmed the constitutionality of a movement for decentralization and provincial autonomy led by the opposition party, Resistência Nacional Moçambicana (RENAMO). In response, FRELIMO’s spokesperson reportedly called Professor Cistac an “ingrate” for “disrespecting the hospitality the Mozambican people had given him.” A week before his death, Professor Cistac filed a complaint with the Attorney General about allegedly threatening and libelous comments circulated over Facebook by an unidentified individual using the alias “Calado Calachnikov”— Portuguese for “Silent Kalashnikov.” The individual allegedly accused Professor Cistac of being a spy for the French government who fraudulently obtained Mozambican citizenship.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the apparently targeted killing of a scholar. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and freedom of expression. State authorities have a responsibility to ensure the security of academic communities, to prevent future attacks, and to hold perpetrators of violent attacks accountable.