On December 9, 2022, a group of approximately 12 unidentified assailants vandalized and looted the offices of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).
The group forcibly entered campus early in the morning. They detonated explosives, stole computer equipment and broke windows. They also set fires in rooms and on roads.
The stolen equipment was brought to Justo Sierra Auditorium, an on-campus space that has been occupied by protesters since the year 2000. The group reportedly conducted the attack in response to the detention of Jorge Esquivel Muñoz – known as El Yorch – a fellow protester who was detained at UNAM on December 8. Graffiti painted on university buildings called for Esquivel’s release.
In a statement, UNAM condemned the vandalism and stated “a protest cannot be a justification for carrying out acts typical of criminal organizations that basically seek to destabilize the University.” The university added that they requested that authorities investigate.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the intentional theft and destruction of a university’s facilities. While all civilians have rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, they also have an obligation to exercise those rights peacefully and responsibly, and refrain from engaging in actions that threaten campus security. Actions intended to damage or impede academic activity 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)