On October 29, 2020, a group of unidentified individuals reportedly detained and assaulted the Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB) rector Dimitris Bourantonis and vandalized his office.
As many as fifteen hooded assailants were involved in the attack. Reports indicate that assailants threatened Bourantonis and hung around his neck a sign that read “solidarity with squatters.” Bourantonis was photographed with the sign around his neck. One of the assailants reportedly grabbed Bourantonis by the throat. Assailants further destroyed electronic devices and furniture, and spray painted anarchist symbols on the walls of Bourantonis’s office.
Alleged “anarchists” have been accused of carrying out the attack at AUEB. The campus has been a focal point for protests over the 2019 revocation of a law that barred police from entering university campuses. Lawmakers cited acts of vandalism and non-students occupying parts of the campus. Students have protested the decision, claiming that it threatens to chill student expression.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the detention and assault of a university administrator. State and higher education authorities should investigate and hold responsible perpetrators of such attacks, and take steps to prevent future attacks, in accordance with international standards relating to academic freedom and institutional autonomy. While civilians have a right to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, they also have a responsibility to to refrain from using physical violence. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such incidents undermine academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.