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: November 14, 2018

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances | Imprisonment

Institution(s):Sana'a University

Region & Country:Western Asia | Yemen

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On November 14, 2018, it was reported that Houthi gunmen stationed on the Sana’a University campus assaulted and attempted to detain Adnan al-Maqtari, the deputy dean of the Faculty of Commerce and Economics, in apparent retaliation for comments he made during a lecture.

During a lecture on systems of governance, al-Maqtari reportedly told students: “There are three ways to reach the rule [take control of government]: democracy, succession and coup.” According to al-Maqtari, this was a point he made each year when teaching the course.

After making the remark, a student reportedly summoned Houthi gunmen who were working security on the campus. The gunmen arrived on the scene, assaulted al-Maqtari, and dragged him towards the gates of the university in an apparent attempt to remove him from campus. Students and two senior administrators reportedly prevented the gunmen from removing the professor from campus.

Since at least October 2018, Houthi rebels have reportedly stationed gunmen on the Sana’a University campus, apparently to monitor and restrict student protest activities.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about an assault and attempt to detain a scholar by non-state militants, in apparent retaliation for the peaceful exercise of academic freedom—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 Yemen is a party. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such attacks undermine academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.