On the morning of October 20, 2015, faculty, staff and students from the Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV) attempted to begin a peaceful protest march when they were confronted by Venezuelan police and prevented from proceeding.
The protest, dubbed the “March for University Dignity,” was set to begin around 10:30 am, and to culminate in front of the rector’s building on the UCV campus, where participants planned to voice demands for quality education and a living wage for university staff. Participants had gathered, but had not yet begun to march, when they were met by Bolivarian National Police, who reportedly pushed, kicked and launched teargas at them, effectively preventing the march from proceeding.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about violent attacks against university students, faculty and staff, in apparent retaliation for nonviolent expressive activity concerning higher education policy – conduct which is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. State authorities have a responsibility to protect academic freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, and to refrain from interfering with these rights, so long as they are exercised peacefully and responsibly. Violence and related state actions aimed at limiting these rights undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.