On January 6, 2019, Sudanese security forces prevented a group of Khartoum University professors from joining an off-campus protest, taking several faculty members into custody temporarily, and holding dozens more in a campus building.
Since December 19, 2018, protesters in Khartoum and elsewhere throughout Sudan had been demonstrating over food shortages and demanding that President Omar al-Bashir step down. On January 6, authorities blocked a group of professors from leaving campus to join a new round of protests; they reportedly arrested at least eight of the professors, as the remaining 100 fled into a campus building, where the authorities prevented them from leaving for roughly three hours. The group of professors who were arrested were reportedly released later that day.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the detention of professors engaged in nonviolent exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association, and 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 Sudan is a party. State authorities have an obligation to refrain from the use of arbitrary detentions to restrict the exercise of such rights. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such actions undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.