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: December 05, 2015

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Haramaya University

Region & Country:Eastern Africa | Ethiopia

New or Ongoing:New Incident

Beginning on December 5, 2015 Ethiopian government forces have reportedly fired live ammunition on groups of non-violent protesters in and around Addis Ababa, killing at least three students and injuring several more. 

For several weeks, students on the campus of Haramaya University, as well as other locations in and around Addis Ababa, had been protesting the government’s renewed implementation of its “Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan”, which would expand the limits of Ethiopia’s capital city into parts of the surrounding regional state of Oromia.  Protesters allege that the plan would lead to large-scale eviction of Oromo people from their historical lands, possibly without compensation.

The Ethiopian government has publicly acknowledged that three student protesters have been killed, while other sources have reported the number of casualties to be in the dozens.  The total number of injuries remains unclear as of this report.


Scholars at Risk is concerned about the apparent use of disproportionate force by police against students and others 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.


Why Are Students in Ethiopia Protesting Against a Capital City Expansion Plan?