On January 25, 2021, police beat and arrested students during a demonstration outside the University of Management and Technology (UMT).
On January 4, Pakistan’s Education Minister announced that all university exams would be held on campus, although universities had been holding classes online due to COVID-19.
In response to the announcement, the Progressive Students’ Collective (PSC), a left wing student group, held a demonstration outside of UMT. Police reportedly used batons to beat student protesters, several of whom were hospitalized. Among these was the president of the PSC, Zubair Siddiqui, who was also arrested.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of violence and arrest in response to the nonviolent exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly — conduct that is expressly protected by international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Pakistan is a party. State authorities have an obligation to refrain from restricting student-led protests, so long as they are nonviolent and responsible. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, the use of violence and arrest in response to peaceful expressive activity on campus undermines academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.
*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).