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: May 10, 2022

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Region & Country:Europe | Greece

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On May 10, 2022, violence, including clashes with riot police, broke out during protests at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH).

In December 2021, police removed an anarchist group that had occupied the Department of Biology building on the AUTH campus. In April, 2022, AUTH began building a library at the site of the Department of Biology building, prompting student protests. At the request of AUTH officials, riot police have been stationed on campus for the duration of the library’s construction.

During the May 10 protest, sources reported that some demonstrators assaulted construction workers and police guarding the site. Later on, clashes broke out when protesters demonstrated in front of an administrative building and a man who approached the police standing guard shouted at them and appeared to reach at an officer’s hip. Police appeared to grab for the man and officers charged and fired chemical agents (apparently pepper spray or tear gas) at the students behind him. Video shows police firing stun grenades, chasing after students, and beating them, including those who were on the ground. Police reportedly arrested three individuals.

Scholars at Risk is by violence during an on-campus student protest. While state authorities have a responsibility to maintain order and safety, they should also exercise restraint and ensure that their actions are proportionate, do not endanger members of the campus community, or incite violence. Likewise, while students and other members of society have rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, they also have a responsibility to exercise those rights peacefully and responsibly, refraining from physical violence, including the destruction of higher education facilities.

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