Yesterday I advised the community via social media that this university would do its utmost to ensure detained alumna Loujain Al-Hathloul is treated justly in Saudi Arabia.
I also agreed with the federal government’s view that her arrest is inconsistent with the Saudi Arabian government’s stated commitment to create a more tolerant and open society.
UBC is committed to the principles of free speech and equality. We are committed to empowering our students through education so they can work around the world to improve the lives of all citizens. Those commitments are at the core of our academic mission and we are immeasurably proud of the students, faculty and alumni who strive to achieve them each and every day.
Ms. Al-Hathloul is no exception.
To that end, I have written to Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Chrystia Freeland asking that the Canadian government work with its Saudi Arabian counterparts to ensure Ms. Al-Hathloul’s release and to encourage Saudi Arabia to recognize the rights of Saudi Arabian women.
The full text of that letter is below:
Dear Minister Freeland,
I am deeply concerned to receive reports that authorities in Saudi Arabia have detained a recent graduate of the University of British Columbia. Based on those reports, I understand that Ms. Loujain al-Hathloul was arrested two weeks ago with other activists in connection with her determination to advance women’s rights in Saudi Arabia and continues to be detained.
I welcome the Government of Canada’s statement expressing extreme disappointment with these actions and their inconsistency with the Saudi government’s stated commitments.
At UBC, we seek to foster global citizenship and advance a just and sustainable society. Core to that vision is a commitment to international human rights. By all accounts, Ms. Al-Hathloul embodies and inspires this vision and is seeking to activate important changes in her home country. As UBC’s president, I am deeply moved by alumni who so clearly and demonstrably reflect a commitment to justice and human rights within an environment where those actions come with significant threats to personal safety and security.
I ask that the government continue to work with Saudi Arabian counterparts and seek the immediate release of Ms. Al-Hathloul and to encourage Saudi Arabia to recognize the rights of Saudi Arabian women.
Please do not hesitate to contact me should the university or I be able to assist in any way.
Professor Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor
The University of British Columbia