Saudi activist and UBC alumna Loujain al-Hathloul sent to terrorism court

UBC alumna Loujain al-Hathloul’s case has been referred to a terrorism court in Saudi Arabia after she protested the country’s now-repealed ban on women driving.

Al-Hathloul was originally arrested for defying the driving ban in 2018. In a November 25 court appearance, Al-Hathloul was referred to Saudi Arabia’s Specialized Criminal Court which generally handles the cases of suspected terrorists and human rights activists.

The Saudi government insisted that her detention was because of her contacts with foreign diplomats and activist organizations and not her protest. However, Al-Hathloul had been detained and released on multiple occasions after defying the driving ban in protest.

Al-Hathloul’s family alleged that she has been subject to torture from the Saudi government. The Saudi government has denied the allegations.

Al-Hathloul graduated from UBC in 2014.

On May 30, 2018, UBC President Santa Ono wrote to the federal government to demand support for Al-Hathloul. This came after over 50 faculty members signed an open letter demanding better support from the university for her. The AMS also released a statement in support.

The AMS is currently drafting a letter to Minister of Foreign Affairs François-Philippe Champagne asking for better support for Al-Hathloul.

“This letter will ... focus on holding the federal government accountable to playing a key role in the holding of international human rights,” AMS VP External Kalith Nanayakkara said.

Nanayakkara praised Al-Hathloul and her advocacy work.

“Loujain Al-Hathloul is the embodiment of essentially what a former AMS member and a UBC alumnus should be: a strong, bold advocate for positive change on a mission to make the world a better place.”