On September 20, 2021, students from the Official University of Mbuji-Mayi (UOM) and University of Mbuji-Mayi (UM) engaged in vandalism and violence while protesting, resulting in the destruction of property at both universities.
Students from UOM were calling for an extension on the unexpected September 27 deadline to pay their academic fees, while UM students condemned the decision of the Minister of Higher Education (ESU) to close UM’s Faculty of Medicine.
Students from both universities allegedly damaged campus buildings, blocked access to campus spaces, and removed university property including computer equipment. According to Radio Okapi, UM students also threw projectiles at individuals walking on the roads near university buildings. Radio Okapi also reported that UM and UOM students eventually met at the provincial governorate to demonstrate, at which point the Congolese National Police dispersed the protesters with tear gas and arrested two students.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about student protesters engaging in vandalism and violent behavior. Although students’ rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are protected under international law and state authorities are obligated to respect those rights, students must exercise these rights responsibly and refrain from physical violence. Violent and destructive student protests undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.
*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).