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: April 24, 2021

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Peshgam Institute of Higher Education

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Afghanistan

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On April 24, 2021, gunmen shot and killed university lecturer Rafi Osmani (رفیع عثماني) amidst a series of targeted attacks in Kabul on the same day.

Violence erupted in Kabul on the eve of the date U.S. President Joe Biden stated the country would be withdrawing American troops from the region. On April 23, a truck full of explosives killed 17 people. The next day, there were a series of targeted attacks on security personnel, government employees, and others.

According to police, on April 24, Osmani was killed in a targeted attack by gunmen while on his way to the work Several sources reported that Osmani was employed by the Peshgam Institute of Higher Education, in Kabul. The gunmen immediately fled the scene and have yet to be identified.

The killing comes during a period of increased targeted attacks against university professors and students in the country (see recent incidents here and here). No further details have emerged regarding the circumstances of his killing.

Scholars at Risk is gravely concerned about a targeted, violent attack on a scholar and offers condolences to the victims’ families, friends, and colleagues. In addition to the terrible loss of life, such attacks target higher education’s core values, including academic freedom, the free exchange of ideas, and social responsibility. State authorities are responsible for safeguarding these values by taking all reasonable steps to ensure the security of higher education communities and their members, including a responsibility to deter future attacks by investigating incidents and making every effort to hold perpetrators accountable, consistent with internationally recognized standards. Members of society similarly have a responsibility to help safeguard the higher education space, especially following incidents of such gross violence, by pressing demands to state authorities for greater protection and accountability, and by contributing to efforts to understand and reinforce principles of autonomy and academic freedom.