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: March 25, 2018

Attack Types: Imprisonment | Prosecution

Institution(s):Various Institutions

Region & Country:Eastern Africa | Ethiopia

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On March 25, 2018, Ethiopian authorities reportedly detained six university professors along with 13 journalists and other professionals, reportedly under the auspices of the country’s State of Emergency decree.

The professors, journalists, and others had reportedly gathered in Bahir Dar, capital of the Amhara regional state, for a meeting to discuss establishing a new political party. The professors gathered included Desalegn Chane, an assistant professor at Bahir Dar University; Temesgen Tessema, a former lecturer at Wello University; Gashaw Mersha, a writer and teacher in Addis Ababa and; Belete Mola, a philosophy professor at Addis Abeba University. Following their meeting, the group was sharing a meal when they were arrested and taken into custody, where they remain as of this report.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arrest and detention of professors and others, apparently as a result of the nonviolent exercise of the rights to free expression and association, conduct that 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 Ethiopia is party. State officials have a responsibility not to interfere with the rights to free expression and association so long as they are exercised peacefully and responsibly, and to comply with internationally recognized standards of due process and fair trial. Detentions and related actions aimed at limiting free expression and association undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.