On January 10, 2018, a violent incident occurred on the campus of Sudan’s Ahfad University for Women, when a university administrator reportedly assaulted members of a group of female students as they protested high food prices in the university cafeteria.
According to media sources (including multiple videos), Dr. Gasim Badri, the university’s dean, approached the student protesters, told them to disperse and then slapped and kicked one of them. A crowd of protesters then reportedly surrounded Dr. Badri; one began hitting him while others shouted at him (although Dr. Badri and his supporters contested this account). University officials opened an investigation into Dr. Badri’s actions following the protest.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of violence against students engaged in nonviolent, on-campus expression—conduct that is expressly protected by international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Sudan is a party. University authorities have a responsibility to protect student expression, so long as it is exercised peacefully and responsibly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents have a chilling effect on freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, academic freedom, and democratic society generally.