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 26, 2022

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Region & Country:Europe | Greece

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On May 26, 2022, clashes broke out between riot police and a group of students protesting 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 construction of the library.

Dozens of students protested on the AUTH campus on May 26. The protesters held a banner, approached a line of police, and shouted slogans at them. At one point, clashes broke out between riot police and students. Police charged at students and fired stun grenades at them. One student, Giannis Dousakis, was rushed to the hospital after sustaining injuries, including from being struck by a stun grenade in the face. Dousakis was treated for a broken jaw, a concussion, temporary hearing loss, and loose teeth. Police accused students of attacking the MAT forces and reported that one officer was injured.

Scholars at Risk is concerned by clashes between police and students the disportionate use of force against students exercising their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly — conduct that is expressly protected by international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Greece is a party. While state security forces have a responsibility to maintain order and safety, they also have an obligation to respect nonviolent, expressive activity and to refrain from disportionate force and other actions that restrict such conduct or endanger members of the campus community. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such actions undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.