On June 16, two unnamed students were killed by the Lesotho Mounted Police Service during a protest against the recent reduction of student grants at the National University of Lesotho. Student activists alleged that the Lesotho police fired fatal shots into the group of protestors without warning and wounded numerous others.
The demonstration was organized by students after the National Manpower Development Secretariat cut students' monthly stipends by more than 50 percent. The stipends were cut from ZAR 1,050 (US $66) per month to ZAR 500. According to one student interviewed by News24, they were “not given a reason why the money was cut.”
A representative from the Human Rights and Access to Justice Department, Transformation Resource Centre said the actions by the police were in violation of the United Nations’ basic principles on the use of firearms by law enforcement agents. The delegation of the European Union in Lesotho additionally called for the police officers responsible for the deaths to be held accountable.
Endangered Scholars Worldwide (ESW) supports these calls to action and condemns the Lesotho police brutality that resulted in the deaths and injuries of student protestors. ESW remains deeply concerned about violence targeting university students who exercise their freedom of speech to draw attention to unexplained injustices. We at ESW stand in solidarity with those who strive for their rights and freedoms in Lesotho and call upon all international organizations, academic and professional associations, and other groups and individuals devoted to the promotion and defense of human rights to strongly protest the Lesotho government’s failure to protect its students’ lives and voices.
“Police under fire for deaths of two students during protests,” University World News