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: April 02, 2022

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Official University of Bukavu

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

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On April 2, 2022, student protesters at the Official University of Bukavu (UOB) reportedly clashed with campus security guards. One student died during the clashes.

Students gathered on the campus for a second day of protests over a proposed tuition fee hike when clashes broke out with security guards. According to a student representative, a guard beat third-year law student Jean-Paul Rusumba Birhakabulirwa with a baton. Birhakabulirwa was transported off campus for treatment, but died soon shortly thereafter.

The university claimed that the demonstrators had “threatened and injured” security guards and that the aforementioned security guard was acting in self-defense. According to University World News, some students were armed with machetes and sticks. The same source reported that students had barricaded the campus entrance with burning tires and damaged campus infrastructure.

Scholars at Risk is concerned by the death of a student amidst a campus protest and offers condolences to the victim’s family and friends. SAR is also concerned by reports of violent clashes between students and security guards during a campus protest. While campus security personnel have a responsibility to maintain safety and order, they must also exercise restraint and refrain from disproportionate force. Likewise, while students have a right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, they also have a responsibility to exercise those rights peacefully, without resorting to physical violence or intimidation.

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