On January 12, 2018, state security forces reportedly used violent force and arrested students during a protest at Aldalang University in Sudan.
The students had reportedly blocked off the entrance to a main hall on campus to protest an incident from the previous day, in which a Sudanese soldier reportedly killed two students on campus before killing himself, prompting university officials to order students to evacuate. Soon after, armed forces, police, and National Intelligence and Security Services officers arrived on the scene and opened fire on the students, in an apparent effort to force their evacuation. According to one NGO report, authorities detained as many as 117 students, of whom 24 face criminal charges, including “joints acts of criminal conspiracy,” “publication of false news,” “disturbance of public peace,” “public nuisance,” and “criminal mischief.”
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of force and arrests by authorities 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. State and university authorities have a responsibility not to interfere with the rights to free expression and assembly, so long as they are exercised peacefully and responsibly, and must avoid disproportionate measures that may result in harm. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and university autonomy, and undermine democratic society generally.