Activist and UWC alumna Amaya Coppens released from prison
Masa Sara Holocsi and Saskia Lehtsalu, Grade 11, East Campus
Dear UWCSEA Community,
We are very happy to share the news about the release from prison of UWC Alumna, Amaya Coppens. She was released in Nicaragua on Tuesday, 11 June along with a number of other political prisoners.
In 2018 Amaya was living in Nicaragua (she is a dual citizen of Belgium and Nicaragua) and studying medicine at the Nicaraguan Autonomous National University (UNAN-Leon). She is a known social activist and had been involved in student protests against the government in the lead up to her arrest on 11 September 2018. She was arrested under suspicion of conducting terrorist activities and involvement in arson attempts, charges that were never proven, and vehemently denied by Amaya and her supporters. As IB Global Politics students this seems to us as an example of a person having their human rights violated due to the state using their power in a way that is neither legitimate nor appropriate.
The wider UWC community, together with Amnesty International, have worked hard to support Amaya while she was being held in custody. In our own community at UWCSEA East we wrote hundreds of letters calling on Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega to release Amaya, as part of our annual ‘Write for Rights’ event in December 2018. We are also aware that UWC International has been working with the UWC National Committee in Nicaragua to support Amaya and her family. As National Committee scholars ourselves it is wonderful to know that the UWC movement continues to take an active interest in the lives of alumi, and are willing to take a political stance when a member of the community is in need of assistance.
On the day of Amaya’s release The Guardian newspaper ran a story stating that the Nicaraguan government had freed over 100 political prisoners due to the introduction of a new law freeing people arrested for anti-government protests. This news came as a surprise as government had given no prior notice. Even though we are happy to know that Amaya and the other political prisoners have been freed, the worry still remains, as the country's political situation has seen no improvement and violence against protesters continues.
This case portrays how the strength of our community comes from unity, and a shared belief in advocating for rights and working to forge a positive peace. It is heartwarming to see the UWC community supporting our alumni, with the aim to create enough momentum to demand for justice. We might often feel that there is not much that we can do against such injustices and human rights violations, but let us take this case as a triumph of the united actions of people from all around the world, and let it empower us to continue to take action for those facing injustice inside and outside of our UWC community.
Both Masa and Saskia are National Committee Scholars and take HL IB Global Politics. They, together with their peers, participated in the 24 hour 'Write for Rights' human rights event, one of the many global campaign efforts that called for the release of political prisoners in Nicaragua. To learn more, read The Guardian article on the release of the prisoners.