On October 4, 2018, police clashed violently with University of Peshawar (UoP) students during an on-campus protest, resulting in multiple students and police officers injured.
A coalition of student political organizations had gathered on UoP’s Pearl Lawn to protest a fee hike. At least one report suggest the protest was also a response to a university order to remove some 300 student members of these same campus groups from their dormitories in July 2018.
As the students began to march from the lawn to administrative buildings police officers began to violently push back the students, including by beating some with batons. At least 15 students were reported injured during the clashes, while at least 15 students were arrested for allegedly violating Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which relates to the organizing of an unlawful assembly.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of violent force and arrests of students in apparent relation for the nonviolent exercise of the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly—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 Pakistan is a party. State authorities have a responsibility to refrain from actions that restrict such rights, so long as they are exercised peacefully and responsibly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, violent force and arrests aimed at limiting freedom of expression undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.