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: October 02, 2022

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Herat University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Afghanistan

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On October 2, 2022, Taliban forces used force against Herat University (HU) students participating in a protest against the bombing of Kaaj Educational Center.

On September 30, 2022, a suicide bomber carried out an attack on the educational center, leaving 53 dead and 110 injured (see report). Most of the victims were young women and many were of the Hazara ethnic minority group, which has historically faced persecution and violent attacks in Afghanistan).

On October 2, about 100 students, mostly women and Hazara, gathered at HU and began marching toward the provincial governorate when they were confronted by Taliban forces. The protest was reportedly nonviolent. Taliban forces reportedly fired shots in the air and beat demonstrators. Taliban forces also reportedly closed the university gates in an apparent attempt to prevent more students from joining the protest.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of force in an apparent effort to restrict a nonviolent student protest—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 Afghanistan is a party. Security forces have an obligation to refrain from restricting the nonviolent exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, the use of force against nonviolent student protesters undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.