The university, named after a Pashtun activist and a non-violence promoter, Abdul Ghaffar “Basha” Khan, was hosting 600 visitors for a poetry recital on the anniversary of the founder’s death, when a group of gunmen assaulted the institution, killing at least 20 people and injuring fifty more. Four suspected attackers also died in the battle that lasted for three hours. The attack follows the killing of 130 students at a school in the city of Peshawar, not far from Charsadda, in 2014.
In recent years, students, teachers and academics have been increasingly targeted in violent attacks – an unacceptable trend that hurts the future of societies at large. Schools, as all-in-one symbols of freedom, empowerment and peace are increasingly targeted for the values they promote, which stand in strong contrast with the extremist ideology and ruthless methods of terrorist groups.
“The situation of fear and terror that these terrorist groups want to create, in order to gain power and rule over frightened people enslaved by ignorance can only be fought by the light of knowledge and education.” says Chiara Patricolo, Human Right and Solidarity Coordinator, European Students’ Union.
We recall that schools and universities must be protected from these kinds of attacks, as stated in the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict (formerly known as the Lucens Guidelines). The Guidelines have already received global attention and been endorsed by a large number of governments, but there is still a long way to go if they are to have a true impact and prevent future attacks on education.