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: June 14, 2021

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Superior Institute of Medical Technique

Region & Country:Central Africa | Congo (DRC-Kinshasa)

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On June 14, 2021, police clashed with Superior Institute of Medical Technique (ISTM) students protesting to demand the resumption of exams. Police used tear gas and fired warning shots to disperse the protesters, killing one student who was struck by a stray bullet.

Students gathered on ISTM’s campus in the morning to protest demanding the resumption of exams, which had been postponed after the faculty went on strike over withheld pay. 

Police arrived to campus and used tear gas and fired “warning shots” in an effort to disperse the protesters, who had barricaded a public road outside of the campus, and prevent them from entering a neighboring government office. One report indicates that students threw stones at people on the streets. According to the student president of ISTM, Dominique Mutombo wa Ilunga, a 3rd-year student was shot and killed by a stray bullet fired by police forces.. Several students were injured.

Following this incident, the Kasaï-Oriental Provincial Security Council suspended all academic activities at ISTM until June 19. Provincial Minister of the Interior Lazare Tshipinda said in a meeting that legal action must be taken as a result of the student’s death. It is unclear what actions state authorities have taken, if any.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the violence and the death of a student during a student protest. While state authorities have a responsibility to maintain order and security, they also have an obligation to ensure that their actions are proportionate to the situation, do not endanger protesters, and are not undertaken to restrict nonviolent expressive activity. Students likewise have a responsibility to carry out expressive activities peacefully and responsibly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, the use of violent force during protests undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.

*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).