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: April 29, 2024

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Sorbonne University

Region & Country:Europe | France

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On April 29, 2024, police forcibly removed pro-Palestinian student protesters who had established a tent encampment and were peacefully protesting at Sorbonne University.

Approximately 50 students set up tents in a courtyard on campus around noon, and began to chant and hold speeches. At 2:30 p.m., police entered the courtyard and surrounded the encampment. A video posted to social media shows police dragging protesters out of tents and through the courtyard. Police did not provide students with an explanation for why they were clearing the space.

The request to remove protesters was reportedly made by French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal. Following the police intervention, Sorbonne University announced that its campus would be closed for the rest of the day.

The protesters were escorted off campus and some joined a larger protest that was simultaneously taking place in the vicinity of the university.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the forcible removal of peaceful student protesters from campus. While state authorities have a responsibility to maintain safety and order, they also have an obligation to refrain from restricting nonviolent expressive activity. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, the punishment of nonviolent student expression undermines academic freedom, university autonomy, and democratic society generally.