On February 11, 2018, a student activist was attacked after giving a speech at the University of Khartoum in Sudan, giving way to clashes between rival student groups, and ultimately entry of campus and the use of disproportionate force by Sudanese security forces.
Shortly after he gave a speech on campus condemning alleged interference in student union elections, University of Khartoum student Salim Suleiman El Safi was reportedly attacked by a group of students supportive of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party. Other students came to his defense, reportedly setting off protests by the rival student groups. Police officers reportedly entered the campus shortly thereafter, and fired tear gas and live bullets to disperse the crowd. At least four students were reportedly injured and/or hospitalized, while another two were arrested.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about violence on campus between student groups, as well as the use of disproportionate force by authorities — including in particular the use of live ammunition — to disperse crowds of student protesters. Students have the right to freedom of expression and assembly on campus, but those rights must be exercised in a manner consistent with university values, including non-violence and social responsibility. Violent attempts to retaliate against or prevent campus expression not only pose a direct threat to the immediate victims, but also undermine academic freedom, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and harm democratic society generally.