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: February 21, 2019

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Institution(s):University of Khartoum

Region & Country:Northern Africa | Sudan

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On February 21, 2019, Sudanese authorities reportedly arrested University of Khartoum professor Muntaser Ibrahim in retaliation for his nonviolent political activism.

Ibrahim, a renowned geneticist, had reportedly been detained and released on two separate occasions in January in connection with his attendance at demonstrations against the government of Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir. In the months preceding his arrest, Ibrahim had reportedly been working with his university colleagues, drafting the Charter of Freedom and Change, a document signed on January 3 articulating a plan for a new interim government in Sudan and proposing economic policies and guaranteed rights. Signatories of the charter met on February 13 to call for broader support for the document, additional efforts to install a transitional government, and accountability for those who had committed rights abuses in the name of the Al-Bashir government.

Ibrahim’s son, Gassim, reportedly claimed that his father was arrested at a Khartoum mosque on February 21. As of this report, there has been no public statement about Ibrahim’s arrest or information about his whereabouts.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arrest of a scholar in apparent connection with his nonviolent exercise of the right to free expression — conduct that is expressly protected by 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 not to interfere with the exercise of these rights so long as they are exercised peacefully and responsibly. Arrests in retaliation for nonviolent political expression undermine academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.