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: September 08, 2021

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances | Imprisonment

Institution(s):Various Institutions

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Pakistan

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On September 8, 2021, police used force against and detained students protesting alleged irregularities in medical school entrance exams.

Hundreds of students had gathered in Quetta to protest irregularities in the Pakistan Medical Commission’s entry exam for admission to medical school. According to Dawn, as the students marched towards the Balochistan Assembly, police charged and beat them with batons. As many as 50 students were detained by police.

Photos and videos of the protest and subsequent police response were shared to Twitter under the hashtag “#ShameOnQuettaPolice.” The photos and videos show police beating protesters with sticks, detaining and loading protesters into the back of a police van, and several students with bandaged heads.

Scholars at Risk is concerned by the use of force against and detention of students in an apparent effort to restrict the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly – conduct that is protected by international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Pakistan is a party. State authorities have an obligation to refrain from using force to restrict nonviolent expressive activity. In addition to harm to the immediate victims, the use of force intended to restrict nonviolent student expression undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.