On November 8, 2020, police reportedly clashed with students during a protest at the University of Dhaka (DU).
On November 5, in a meeting with the Dean of DU’s Faculty of Medicine, Shahryar Nabi, students asked for a reduction in tuition, and for the suspension of in-person professional exams to accommodate social distancing amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. On November 8, students met again with Nabi, without success; Nabi instead told the students to return the following day. Concerned that their requests would not be met, the students organized a protest at a traffic intersection near campus. The student protest blocked the intersection and halted traffic. Police reportedly arrived and chased after students in an apparent attempt to disperse the crowd. Police allege in a report by the Dhaka Tribune that students threw bricks at police while students accused police of attacking them with batons.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about violence during a student protest. While police have a right to maintain order and safety, they should refrain from the use of force and ensure that their response is proportionate to the situation. Likewise, students have a responsibility to exercise the right to freedom of expression nonviolently and responsibly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, violence during student protests undermines academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society, generally.