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: November 14, 2022

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):University of Sulaimani

Region & Country:Western Asia | Iraq

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On November 14, 2022, state security forces fired tear gas and water cannons at University of Sulaimani students protesting for lower tuition fees.

Students protested outside the entrance of the university on a major highway, disrupting campus. Source indicate that police fired tear gas and water cannons in an apparent effort to force students to disperse or return to the inside of the campus. Some of the protesters reportedly threw stones in return and the university president reported acts of vandalism within the campus, though he believed that individuals unaffiliated with the university were involved in those acts, not students. A number of journalists were reportedly detained briefly during the protest.

On the same day of the protest, the university administration issued a statement ordering a suspension of academic activities, citing concerns for student safety, while also expressing support for the students’ protest demands.

One day earlier, similar clashes broke out with riot police confronting students with tear gas (see report).

Scholars at Risk is concerned by police clashing with and using tear gas against peaceful student protesters. While state security forces have a responsibility to maintain order and safety, they also have an obligation to exercise restraint and refrain from disproportionate responses. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, the use of force against peaceful student protesters undermines democratic society.