On February 24, 2019, Sudanese authorities entered the campus of University of Medical Sciences and Technology (UMST) and reportedly used violence against non-violent student protesters.
Since December 19, 2018, protesters in Khartoum and throughout Sudan have been demonstrating over food shortages and demanding the resignation of President Omar al-Bashir. Scholars, students, and various professional groups have played a leading role in the protests. Rights groups report at least 45 people have been killed during the protests. On February 22, President al-Bashir declared a year-long state emergency.
On February 25, roughly 1,000 students participated in a peaceful campus protest. In response, authorities reportedly entered UMST’s campus gates, causing students to flee. Authorities then proceeded to storm campus buildings, fire tear gas at students, and beat students with sticks, leaving several students injured.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the entry onto campus and use of force by armed government authorities during a peaceful campus protest in order to restrict student expression — 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 a responsibility to refrain from the use of force to restrict or retaliate against peaceful expressive activity. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents undermine freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, institutional autonomy, academic freedom, and democratic society generally.