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: January 23, 2023

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Chittagong University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Bangladesh

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On January 23, 2023, alleged members of the Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), the student wing of the ruling party, the Awami League, reportedly assaulted Nur (“Noor”) Hossain, a candidate for a lecturer position in the political science department of Chittagong University.

Hossain had just finished his viva-voce exam, an oral examination of a candidate’s academic work, when the assailants reportedly assaulted him. A university official told news outlets that BCL activists had come to the vice-chancellor’s office to interfere in the exam. Police then reportedly took Hossain to a local police station, though the reason was not apparent.

Hossain’s assailants reportedly accused him of being a member of a rival student organization known as Islami Chhatra Shibir—considered to be the student wing of the banned Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami political party—when he was a student at Chittagong University. They also accused him of coordinating assaults against members of the campus BCL chapter during his days as a student.

The vice-president of the campus BCL chapter told The Daily Star that members went to the VC’s office to file a complaint, but denied being involved in an attack. The same source, however, told New Age Bangladesh that BCL members “took revenge” on Hossain over the aforementioned assault allegations.

Scholars at Risk is concerned by reports of an apparently politically motivated attack on an academic in connection with their candidacy for an academic position. State and higher education authorities should take reasonable steps to prevent and respond to such attacks, including by carrying out investigations and holding perpetrators responsible. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such attacks undermine academic freedom and institutional autonomy.

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