On April 20, 2021, a group of students set fire to the door of an administrative building at the National University of Huancavelica amidst protests.
For several days, students had been protesting for a series of demands related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including demands for increased access to wireless internet the opening of dining halls and other facilities, and tuition reductions.
During the April 20 protest, students demonstrated in various parts of Huancavelica. Some students set fire to tires in an effort to block roads. Some others, as mentioned above, set fire to the doors of a university administrative building where a meeting of the university assembly, about the above-mentioned issues, was taking place. According to a university press release, administrators were informed of the fire but were unable to leave the building because of it.
Police dispatched to the protests fired tear gas to disperse students. Police arrested two students on public violence-related charges. One student allegedly assaulted a police official in the face when the latter attempted to speak to the former.
One student reported that four others were injured during the police response, but this has not been confirmed.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about violence during a student protest, including especially reports that a university building was set on fire in connection with protest activities. While students have a right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, they also have a responsibility to exercise those freedoms nonviolently and responsibly and to refrain from violence. Likewise, state authorities, including police, should ensure that their response to student protests is proportionate to the situation and does not risk harm to students or the public.