On April 20, 2022, Imbonerakure – the youth wing of the ruling party – from the Mutanga Campus of the University of Burundi beat up several students on the Zege Campus after traveling there to allegedly participate in student elections.
According to Radio Publique Africaine, the day of the elections, a group of Imbonerakure members reportedly “went on patrol” of the Zege Campus and stopped a student identified as Blaise. When Blaise could not answer their questions to their satisfaction, namely by failing to recite the ruling party’s anthem, the Imbonerakure beat him “severely.” The group purportedly then entered the student dormitories, where they proceeded to beat two other students. According to Ligue Iteka, one of those students had to seek medical treatment.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about members of a student group arbitrarily and violently attacking other students on campus. Student groups have a responsibility to refrain from physical violence and should respect their peers’ right to hold different political views and ideologies. State and university authorities should also take steps to protect students from violence and ensure that they are able to enjoy campus spaces safely. In addition to harm to the immediate victims, violent attacks on students 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).