On June 9, 2019, paramilitary forces reportedly raided the University of Khartoum (UofK), killing four protesters and destroying campus property.
Protests had been ongoing throughout Sudan since December 19, 2018, when demonstrators — frequently led by scholars, students, and professional groups — began demanding President Omar al-Bashir’s resignation, and protesting over food shortages. After the military ouster of al-Bashir in April, the protests continued, with demonstrators demanding a transition to a civilian government, rather than the transitional military council which many see as a continuation of al-Bashir’s regime.
On June 3, paramilitary forces including the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), attacked a group of peaceful protesters near the campus of the UofK, reportedly killing over 100, raping 70, and injured over 500. On June 7, in response to the violence, the UofK Teaching Staff Initiative, together with other associations, reportedly launched a civil disobedience campaign, which they say will continue until the military transfers power to a civilian government.
RSF apparently responded by raiding the UofK, destroying and looting professors’ offices and burning the UofK hospital. They reportedly killed four protesters at the barricades of the university, and eventually took over the university with forces stationed inside and around the university.
Scholars at Risk is gravely concerned about the mass violence against protesters, destruction of campus property, and entry onto and forcible seizure of a campus by armed paramilitary forces. In addition to the terrible loss of life and injuries, such attacks target the core values of higher education, including academic freedom, the free exchange of ideas, institutional autonomy, and social responsibility. State authorities have a responsibility to safeguard these values by taking all reasonable steps to ensure the security of higher education communities and their members, including a responsibility to deter future attacks by investigating incidents and making every effort to hold perpetrators accountable, consistent with internationally recognized standards. Members of society similarly have a responsibility to help safeguard the higher education space, especially following incidents of such gross violence, by pressing demands to state authorities for greater protection and accountability, and by contributing to efforts to understand and reinforce principles of autonomy and academic freedom.