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 19, 2016

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):University of Kordofan

Region & Country:Northern Africa | Sudan

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On April 19, 2016, plainclothes officers of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) officers reportedly attacked students participating in elections at the University of Kordofan, killing engineering student Abubakar Hassan Mohamed Taha and injuring as many as 27 other students.

One day earlier, the University of Kordofan had held a general assembly, during which the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) reportedly declared that students would be required to submit their lists of candidates at 5:00 AM on April 19, the day of the election. A statement issued by the opposition students alleged that NCP’s demand was an attempt to discourage opposition-supporting students from participating in the elections.

In the early morning of April 19, as a group of students peacefully marched to the university to submit their list of pro-opposition candidates, plainclothes NISS officers reportedly intercepted and attacked them. The NISS officers, who reportedly arrived in 15 pickup trucks armed with AK47 rifles, beat and opened fire on the opposition students, including Taha, who died from a bullet wound to the head. 

Scholars at Risk is concerned about violent attacks against university students as a result of the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression, freedom of association and academic freedom. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of association. State authorities have a responsibility to ensure the security of academic communities, to prevent future attacks, and to hold perpetrators of violent attacks accountable.