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: April 03, 2019

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Universidad del Valle

Region & Country:Americas | Colombia

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On April 3, 2019, a group attending a demonstration at the Universidad del Valle (UV) reportedly engaged in violent acts of aggression that resulted in one person killed and six others injured.

The demonstration was in response to the death of UV student Jhonatan Landines (also written as “Landinez”) in a March 2019 bombing of the Regional Indigenous Council of the Dagua municipality. Some claimed the bombing was carried out by the government. In the days following the bombing, UV students and others began holding demonstrations in the streets and on campus.

During the April 3 demonstration, a group of hooded individuals reportedly engaged in violent acts, including by clashing with security forces on the scene, allegedly assaulting a bus driver, and throwing and firing handmade explosive devices at security forces and a nearby supermarket. One of the hooded individuals reportedly detonated some explosives by accident, killing himself and injuring six others. The man killed was reportedly a former UV student; the injured reportedly include at least one current UV student and two former UV students.

Following the incident, administrators suspended university activities for 48 hours. As of this report, three individuals, including one UV student, reportedly face terrorism charges in relation to the incident.

Scholars at Risk is concerned by the use of violence during a campus protest. While students and other groups have a right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, they must exercise these rights peacefully and responsibly. The use of violence during a campus protest endangers the higher education community and undermines academic freedom and institutional autonomy. State authorities have a responsibility to ensure the security of higher education communities and to hold perpetrators of violent acts responsible.