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 24, 2021

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):University of Sulaimani

Region & Country:Western Asia | Iraq

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On November 24, 2022, police entered the University of Sulaimani (UoS) and used force against students and journalists during a campus protest calling for the resumption of student allowances.

On November 21, students began a series of protests demanding that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) reinstate student allowances that had been canceled in 2014, due to funding shortfalls caused by low oil prices and a need for funds to fight ISIL. The allowances allotted 60,000 to 100,000 dinars (about $40 to $70 USD) to each student on a monthly basis. The students argued that with ISIL mostly defeated and the price of oil recovering, allowances should be resumed. Security forces responded with force to student protests on November 22 (see report) and 23 (see report).

On November 24, police reportedly entered UoS, firing tear gas at students and preventing journalists from entering the campus. Police reportedly beat students and journalists with electric batons.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of force by police in response to the nonviolent exercise of the 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 Iraq is a party. State authorities have an obligation to ensure the security of higher education communities and to refrain from violent or disproportionate actions in response to student protests. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such actions undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.