On July 2, 2017, Bolivarian National Guard soldiers reportedly entered the campus of the Pedagogical Experimental University in Maracay, Venezuela, where a group of students was nonviolently protesting the Maduro regime. The soldiers reportedly beat students and security staff, before arresting more than 30 of the students.
27 of the students were later charged in a military court with offenses including instigating rebellion, theft of military property, and violation of a security zone. They were reportedly sent to jail after being charged. Another five women who were arrested during the July 2 protest were released after being charged and placed on house arrest.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of force against and arrest of students, in apparent retaliation for the nonviolent exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and association — conduct which is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Venezuela is a party. State authorities have a responsibility to protect the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association, so long as they are exercised peacefully and responsibly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.