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 06, 2021

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Takhar University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Afghanistan

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On April 6, 2021, violent clashes broke out between police and Takhar University students protesting and blocking Takhar-Kunduz highway, resulting in multiple students injured.

Hundreds of students had gathered on a highway to protest in response to a faculty strike over housing that faculty had apparently been promised. Students demanded the resumption of classes. 

According to reports, violent clashes broke out after police arrived to disperse the protesters. Live ammunition was reportedly fired, though protesters and a police spokesperson have offered conflicting reports, with the former claiming that police forces opened fire on protesters and the latter claiming that protesters had fired shots. 

At least four people were reportedly injured in the clashes, though students allege that one student died from his injuries. The local hospital, however, denied that there were deaths related to the protest.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about violence during a student protest. While state authorities have a responsibility to maintain order and security, they also have an obligation to ensure that their actions are proportionate to the situation, do not endanger protesters, and are not undertaken to restrict nonviolent expressive activity. Students likewise have a responsibility to carry out expressive activities peacefully and responsibly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, the use of violent force during protests undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.