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: November 12, 2021

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Ghazni University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Afghanistan

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On or around November 12, 2021, armed assailants believed to be affiliated with the Taliban abducted Professor Sayed Asif Mubtahij Hashemi, the Dean of Faculty of Sharia Law at Ghazni University. On February 10, 2022, he was found dead. 

According to other Ghazni University professors in touch with Panjshir News, Hashemi was abducted at gunpoint while teaching at an orphanage in the “Green Hat” district of Ghazni and taken to an unknown location by individuals who appeared to be affiliated with the Taliban. The professors asserted that the abductors had previously shown up at Hashemi’s house in Taliban uniforms. At least one professor also stated that the abductors were university students who were associated with the Taliban and that they had contacted Hashemi prior to the abduction. Hashemi’s family additionally reported that Taliban authorities had summoned him to a specific area through repeated phone calls ahead of his abduction. Taliban officials denied involvement in his abduction. 

His family had been unable to contact him or learn anything about his condition until his body was allegedly found by intelligence forces in Ghazni on February 10. In a letter on the incident that was translated and published by Jurist, another Afghan lawyer, Ahmed Ali Shariati, stated that it is possible Hashemi was killed for his liberal ideas and anti-extremist interpretations of religious texts.

The head of Ghaznavi Private University, Merajuddin Waqar, was similarly abducted and killed in the same province just before Hashemi. Waqar’s body was located while Hashemi was still missing.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the targeted abduction and killing of a scholar in apparent retaliation for their academic activity and offers condolences to their family, friends, colleagues, and students. Governing authorities have a responsibility to refrain from engaging in extrajudicial killings and any other coercive actions that punish, restrict, or chill academic activity or viewpoints. In addition to harm to the immediate victim, the assassination and abduction of a scholar undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.