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: February 17, 2021

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Barisal University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Bangladesh

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On February 17, 2021, a large group of people carried out an attack on a student residence hall in apparent retaliation for a student protest. The attack left at least 25 Barisal University students injured.

On February 16, a group of students protested outside a bus terminal in the Rupatoli neighborhood of Barisal, in response to news that two classmates were attacked by transit workers. The students blockaded the terminal for two hours and demanding the perpetrators’ arrest. Students ended their protest after police arrested one of the transit workers.

That night, at roughly 1:00 AM, as many as fifty individuals raided a private residence hall, which rents out lodgings to Barisal University students. Students report that the assailants, who they allege were transit workers, wielded rods, sticks, and other objects. At least 13 students injured in the attack were hospitalized.

The attack resulted in a series of student demonstrations demanding accountability and security for residence halls. As of February 22, police had arrested two transit workers suspected of being involved in the attack on the residence hall.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about a violent attack on students in apparent retaliation for expressive activity. State and university authorities should take all available steps to investigate such incidents, hold perpetrators responsible, and protect against attacks on students, scholars, and other members of the higher education community. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, violent attacks on students, particularly in retaliation for their expressive activity, undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.