Nearly two years after a UBC graduate was locked up in a Saudi prison for defying the country’s ban on women driving, one of her peers is asking why her alma mater isn’t more involved in seeking her freedom.
She was arrested after driving into the kingdom of Saudi Arabia to protest the ban. Since then, she’s allegedly been violently tortured and sexually harassed while in custody.
Fellow UBC grad Dalya al-Masri says the school encourages its students to be global citizens and it should be advocating for al-Hathloul, one of its prominent alumni.
“UBC, now, they have the opportunity to put more pressure,” said al-Masri.
When news broke in May 2018 of al-Hathloul’s arrest, UBC president Santa Ono wrote to then-Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland asking the government to work for her release.
UBC told Global News on Wednesday that al-Hathloul’s arrest is inconsistent with the Saudi government’s commitment to create a more open and tolerant society.
“Loujain Al-Hathloul is the embodiment of UBC’s commitment to free speech, equality, empowerment and education, and global citizenship. Her courageous and selfless work advocating for human rights in Saudi Arabia has come at a significant personal cost,” said spokesperson Kurt Heinrich in an email.
But it said it remains important for the university to be aware of diplomatic tensions between Canada and that country, and it wants to be careful that it’s external relations don’t impact her safety.