On June 5, 2019, state security forces and students violently clashed during a protest at the Metropolitan University of Education Sciences (UMCE).
Students in Chile have been protesting a number of education reforms by the government and have called for a “free, non-sexist, and quality education.” Violent clashes have broken out between state authorities and protesters during some of these demonstrations.
During the June 5 protest, Carabineros (Chile’s national police force) entered the UMCE campus in an apparent effort to quash the protest. It is unclear what actions by the protesters prompted the authorities’ arrival; however, video footage shows protesters throwing molotov cocktails at state security vehicles parked outside the campus gates. Those same vehicles were also seen firing water cannons and tear gas at the protesters. Reports further indicate that Carabineros who entered campus clashed with students and detained an unknown number of protesters. It is not clear on what grounds the students were detained.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about violence during a campus protest. While state authorities have an obligation to maintain order and security, their actions should be proportional to the situation and must not restrict nonviolent expressive activity. Likewise, while students and others have a right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, they must exercise these rights peacefully and responsibly. In addition to the harm to the university community, violence during a campus protest undermines institutional autonomy and democratic society generally.