A Montreal student was arrested Friday in Manila, Philippines, on allegations she participated in one of a number of anti-government protests in July on the same day the president was giving his state-of-the-nation speech.
University of Montreal student Kim Chatillon-Meunier, 24, was arrested while attempting to leave the country, nearly two months after the demonstrations.
She was reportedly on a watch list and was arrested at the airport as she prepared to board a flight to Hong Kong.
According to human rights group Karapatan, she was arrested by Bureau of Immigration officers Friday night around 7 p.m. local time. She is reported to be at Camp Bagong Diwa, a Manila-area jail.
Her boyfriend, Émile Kinley-Gauthier, said he has spoken to her twice since she was taken into custody, and she was in good spirits, albeit worried about when she would be released.
"But the situation can evolve, so it's really an urgent matter," he said.
Kinley-Gauthier said he and Chatillon-Meunier took part in a rally on July 22, the day Philippine President Benigno Aquino delivered his state-of-the-nation address. They were just observing, he said.
A number of anti-government protests broke out in Manila that day. Several were deemed illegal, because their requests for permits had been denied by Manila's municipal administration. Isolated clashes broke out between demonstrators and police, resulting in several dozen injuries.
Regardless, Kinley-Gauthier left the Philippines on Aug. 1 without any problems, he said.
He and Chatillon-Meunier were in the country completing internships.
"Kim was primarily in the Philippines ... to meet the requirements for the international studies program of the University of Montreal,” Karapatan said in a written statement.
“She joined in the research and documentation of the reproductive health conditions of women in communities in Tondo, Manila,” the rights group added.
She had been working with women living in an impoverished area in Manila on an internship funded by Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada.
Chatillon-Meunier's mother, Annie Meunier, said "a team of people" is working to secure her release "day in and day out." It includes a University of Montreal staff member and lawyers from Philippines human rights groups.
"Everybody is mobilized in this situation and is working for the release of my daughter," Annie Meunier said. "I'm not alone in this."