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: November 10, 2019

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Woldia University

Region & Country:Eastern Africa | Ethiopia

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On November 11, 2019, ethnic tensions reportedly led to violent clashes among students on the campus of Woldia University. Two students were killed and ten were injured as a result.

Violent clashes, apparently driven by tensions between the Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups have erupted on a number of Ethiopian university campuses recently.

A disagreement among students about the result of a football game reportedly escalated into a lethal ethnic clash, with students beating each other with stones and sticks. The students who were killed were identified as Shambel Alemu and Hassan Amin Mohamed. Ten other students reportedly suffered injuries that required they be admitted to the hospital. Students who said they witnessed the clashes reported that individuals not affiliated with the university were involved. Authorities arrested thirteen students alleged to have participated in the violence.

Security forces were reportedly deployed to campus to maintain student safety. The university also invited religious and local leaders to facilitate reconciliation among the students.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about violent, apparently ethnic clashes on campus. While students have a right to express themselves, they must do so peacefully and responsibly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such actions erode equitable access, and undermines freedom of expression, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.