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: January 16, 2018

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Institution(s):Ahfad University for Women

Region & Country:Northern Africa | Sudan

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On January 16, 2018, Sudanese authorities reportedly detained Sidgi Kaballo, a professor of economics at Afhad University for Women and a human rights activist, apparently in retaliation for his part in co-organizing peaceful protests criticizing the government’s economic plan.

Professor Kaballo received his PhD from the University of Leeds, in the UK. According to family, he returned to Sudan after the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and has remained there ever since.  He began conducting grassroots activism shortly after he arrived, and since 2016, he has been an Associate Professor at the Afhad University for Women, in the city of Omdurman.

In early January 2018, Professor Kaballo, a member of the Sudanese Communist Party, became concerned about the impact of the proposed 2018 Sudanese budget. Along with other party members, he began to organize peaceful protests in response. On January 16, 2018, while he was en route to attend one of these protests, authorities reportedly took Professor Kaballo into custody. Professor Kaballo was taken to Zalingei prison where he was held without charge until April 10, 2018, when he and scores of other activists were reportedly released.

The detention of Professor Kaballo occurred against the backdrop of widespread arrests and detentions of human rights activists. According to one report, the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) has arrested more than 200 individuals since January 2018.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arbitrary detention of a scholar in apparent retaliation for the nonviolent exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association — conduct which is expressly protected under international human rights standards, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Sudan is a party. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and democratic society generally.