Mass violations against university students – Report

Egyptian university students are suffering from a sharp rise in harsh actions taken against them by security forces and university administrations. A new report documents a total of 1,552 violations against students arrested during the past academic year.

This was the main message of a 7 July report, titled University Under Siege, published by he Egyptian Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, or AFTE.

The report documented cases against university students for the academic year 2014-15 – from 11 October 2014 to 26 June 2015 – by security forces and universities, along with examples of violations of academic freedom, educational process and research.

“The security crackdown has intensified against students in an attempt to stifle the public space inside universities and repress any oppositional student movement, whether Students Against the Coup or other more limited movements,” the report stated.

Activist group Students Against the Coup is a movement in support of the country’s first elected civilian president – former professor Mohamed Morsi from the Muslim Brotherhood, who was ousted by the military on 3 July 2013.

Litany of abuse

According to the report, three students were killed during the academic year. A total of 1,552 violations were documented against 761 students arrested during the year, most of whom belong to Students Against the Coup

“Universities were turned into military property, and according to the facilities protection law the authorities deprived the students of being referred to civilian court and, instead, at least 89 students were referred to military trials,” the report said.

It claimed that 523 students were punished with disciplinary actions by university administrations without appearing before a fair disciplinary council.

At least 286 students were dismissed, 110 were suspended for one month, 39 were deprived of a whole semester of study and 36 were suspended for a whole academic year.

The report also documented 176 other violations that occurred at universities, including administrative detention, physical assault, dispersing protests, cancelling of activities of a political nature and storming the campus.

Al-Azhar University had the harshest record with 203 students arrested, while 85 students were arrested at Alexandria University, 67 at Cairo University and 65 students at Al-Fayoum University.

Interference with education and research

Besides noting instances of interference of university management and the Higher Education Ministry in academic work, the report also documented several cases of restrictions placed on educational process and scientific research.

Among the reported incidents was the prevention of a researcher from Al-Azhar University from attaining his doctoral degree as a result of him referring to the July 2013 ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi as a ‘military coup’ in his thesis. The university also referred three professors involved in the researcher’s work for investigation.

Several examples of dismissals of university leaders and amendments of legislation pertaining to the selection of university leaders and the disciplinary system for faculty members, were also mentioned in the report.