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 18, 2024

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):University of Sri Jayewardenepura

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Sri Lanka

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On January 18, 2024, police fired tear gas to disperse a protest march organized by non-academic staff at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura.

The march took place during a one-day strike launched to protest a recent government decision to increase the salaries of lecturers—a decision that prompted frustration among non-academic staff.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of water cannons to disperse academic staff exercising their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly—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 Sri Lanka is a party. State authorities have an obligation to not restrict the nonviolent exercise of such rights. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, the use of force and detention to restrict or deter nonviolent student expression undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.