On August 24, 2023, security forces clashed with student protesters at the University of Antananarivo in Ankatso.
The students were demonstrating for the resumption of classes and an increase in scholarship aid. The university had been closed since July 17 because of the “dead university” movement, a strike begun by the union of teacher-researchers (SECES) in demand of fair compensation for temporary teachers, including the payment of allowances for temporary teachers who had taught during the 2018-19 period and the provision of research and investigation allowances for retired researchers who served during the 2018-2022 academic years.
The protesting students held up banners, blocked traffic, burned tires at the entrance of the university campus, and threw stones at police who entered the campus. Security forces used tear gas and arrested eight students.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of violence in the course of a student protest. While state authorities have the right to take reasonable measures to ensure order, they must also exercise restraint and refrain from disproportionate actions, actions that may result in unnecessary harm, and or actions which encroach on the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly – conduct which 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 Madagascar is a party. Likewise, while students have the right to publicly assemble and express themselves on and off campus, such actions must be conducted peacefully and responsibly. Violence in the course of an on-campus protest, coming from any source, undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.