On February 8, 2021, police arrested three students during a protest at Antsiranana University (AU).
Nearly 200 students gathered to demand improvements to infrastructure at AU, to secure the release of students who had been arrested at previous campus protests at the end of January, and to protest against the presence of military troops, who were reportedly on campus in response to previous student protests. Police arrested three students at the protest.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arrest of students in apparent retaliation for their peaceful 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 Madagascar is a party. While state authorities have a right to maintain public order, they have an obligation to refrain from restricting or retaliating against expressive activity, so long as they are peaceful and responsible. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, imprisonment 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).