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WILL THEY SAVE LIVES OR SACRIFICE THEM?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jun. 5, 2014) — At a daily press briefing by the U.S. State Department on Monday, Dr. Meriam Wani, a Christian Sudanese woman imprisoned with her two young children in a ghoulish Khartoum prison on a death sentence for adultery and apostasy, was listed on the index of topics to be discussed.
Meriam was sentenced to 100 lashes for committing “adultery” by marrying her husband Daniel, a Christian, and then death for “apostasy,” meaning that because her father was reportedly a Muslim, she had left Islam and then refused to renounce Christianity. Meriam’s 20-month-old son Martin and newborn daughter Maya are imprisoned with her.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki took a question from a reporter asking if putative Secretary of State John Kerry had “spoken out about the plight of this wife of an American citizen and these children of an American citizen.” Psaki responded, “Well, I’ve spoken with Secretary Kerry about this issue. It is one he is as concerned as others not only in our Administration but others who have spoken out against the world – around the world. And we have spoken out very strongly here about our concerns about this specific case.”
The reporter then asked why Kerry had not shown “outrage” about “what’s being done to this wife and children of a U.S. citizen in Sudan,” to which Psaki responded that Kerry was “gravely concerned” about Meriam and the children.
When Psaki was asked if Kerry and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson had discussed issuing admittance to Meriam and the children to the U.S. as refugees, Psaki responded that “Applicants for asylum must be physically present in the United States, although applicants for refugee status may be located outside of the United States. They generally must be outside of their country of origin and refer to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Refugee determinations are made on a case-by-case basis by the Department of Homeland Security.”
Psaki then referred the reporter to DHS and said, “I think we have to move on. I’m sorry.”
On Tuesday, a newsletter from a religious freedom organization, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), stated, in part:
Yesterday, for the first time, the State Department acknowledged Meriam Ibrahim’s husband is a U.S. citizen.
Under U.S. law, his children are U.S. citizens too. But the Obama State Department still refuses to acknowledge this fact.
Sudan claims Meriam’s marriage to an American Christian is null and void under Shariah law.
But Shariah law is not American law. The State Department must follow our laws and recognize American children held abroad.
A little American boy and newborn baby girl are languishing in a Sudanese prison as their mother is on death row for her Christian faith.
The newsletter then provided a link to a petition which contained, as of Wednesday night, over 352,000 signatures demanding that Meriam and her children be released from prison.
The ACLJ website’s home page has Meriam’s story featured at the top with details about her case elsewhere on the site. The organization has questioned whether or not the State Department is recognizing Sharia law, which dictates that Meriam and her children are Muslim, over “U.S. law.”
Over the weekend, a Sudanese foreign minister assured the anxious international community that Meriam “will not be executed” and would be freed “in a few days’ time,” according to The London Times. On Sunday morning, the initial foreign ministry official elaborated that Sudan was “committed to protecting the woman” and would go through the courts and “the ministry of justice” to effect her release.
Meriam’s attorney had responded on Saturday evening that the foreign ministry official had only been trying to quell international pressure on the Sudanese government to release Meriam and that the family had not received any notification of her impending freedom, calling the foreign minister’s declaration “absurd.”
On Sunday, a second foreign minister confirmed that “only the courts” could issue a decree to free the young mother and her children. The UK Telegraph reported that “Abu Bakr al-Sideeg, spokesman for the foreign ministry in Khartoum…said on Sunday that only the courts had such powers and foreign ministry officials would have no power over Ms Ibrahim’s case.”
On Tuesday, The Times of London reported that Meriam’s legal team had filed an appeal to her sentence of 100 lashes for adultery and death by hanging within the next two years for “apostasy” to the African Commission on Human Rights.
A petition launched by the Family Research Council at whitehouse.gov has close to 39,000 signatures as of press time on Thursday.
Ralph Reed of the Faith & Freedom Coalition wrote in a Wednesday newsletter:
…Mariam’s been a Christian her entire life – but, because the father who abandoned her as a child was a Muslim, Sudan’s archaic and inhumane laws consider Mariam and her kids to be Muslims too.
Worse, they’re even refusing to let her American husband, Daniel, take his toddler son and newborn daughter outside prison walls – leaving them stuck in a horrifying Sudanese prison with their mother.
And, despite being an American citizen, Barack Obama and John Kerry have turned a blind eye to Daniel, as he fights for his wife’s life, and his kids.
The State Department said that Daniel Wani met with one of its representatives on Monday, presumably in Khartoum, where he has been staying while attempting to free his wife and children. Mr. Wani reportedly signed a privacy waiver such that State was able to report publicly that he is a U.S. citizen.
Wani is confined to a wheelchair from muscular dystrophy but works as a biochemist in the United States, residing in Manchester, NH.
The State Department has considered Sudan one of the worst offenders of the right to religious freedom for its citizens, but as of Thursday morning, The Post & Email could find no evidence of an official public statement or action taken on the Wani case other than Psaki’s comments on Monday.
An email response sent to those advocating for Meriam and the children’s release reads:
Thank you for sharing your views about the case of Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, the Sudanese woman who has been sentenced to death by hanging for apostasy after she refused to recant her Christian faith and declare herself a Muslim. The United States is fully engaged diplomatically in Ms. Ishag’s case and through the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, the White House and the State Department has communicated our strong concern at high levels of the Sudanese government.
We have strongly condemned this sentence and call upon the Government of Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion, including one’s right to change one’s faith or beliefs, a right that is enshrined in international human rights law as well as in Sudan’s own 2005 Interim Constitution. U.S. Embassy officials have attended all public hearings to date and will closely monitor the appeals process in Khartoum, which we understand can be quite lengthy.
Bureau of Public Affairs
Office of Public Liaison
It has been widely reported that Daniel Wani was asked to provide a DNA sample to prove that Martin is his son. According to statutes passed by Congress governing the determination of U.S. citizenship to children born abroad, State Department regulation 7 FAM 1130 states, in relevant parts:
a. Acquisition of U.S. citizenship by birth abroad to a U.S. citizen parent is governed by Federal statutes. Only insofar as Congress has provided in such statutes, does the United States follow the traditionally Roman law principle of “jus sanguinis” under which citizenship is acquired by descent (see 7 FAM 1111 a(2)).
b.Section 104(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1104(a)) gives the Secretary of State the responsibility for the administration and enforcement of all nationality laws relating to “the determination of nationality of a person not in the United States.”
a. The laws on acquisition of U.S. citizenship through a parent have always contemplated the existence of a blood relationship between the child and the parent(s) through whom citizenship is claimed. It is not enough that the child is presumed to be the issue of the parents’ marriage by the laws of the jurisdiction where the child was born. Absent a blood relationship between the child and the parent on whose citizenship the child’s own claim is based, U.S. citizenship is not acquired. The burden of proving a claim to U.S. citizenship, including blood relationship and legal relationship, where applicable, is on the person making such claim.
b. Applicants must meet different standards of proof of blood relationship depending on the circumstances of their birth:
(1) The statutes do not specify a standard of proof for persons claiming birth in wedlock to a U.S. citizen parent or out of wedlock to an American mother. The Department’s regulations also do not explicitly establish a standard of proof. The Department applies the general standard of a preponderance of the evidence. This standard means that the evidence of blood relationship is of greater weight than the evidence to the contrary. It is credible and convincing and best accords with reason and probability. It does not depend on the volume of evidence presented.
However, the regulation also states:
c. Children born in wedlock are generally presumed to be the issue of that marriage. This presumption is not determinative in citizenship cases, however, because an actual blood relationship to a U.S. citizen parent is required. If doubt arises that the citizen “parent” is related by blood to the child, the consular officer is expected to investigate carefully. Circumstances that might give rise to such a doubt include:
(1) Conception or birth of a child when either of the alleged biological parents was married to another;
(2) Naming on the birth certificate, as father and/or mother, person(s) other than the alleged biological parents; and
(3) Evidence or indications that the child was conceived at a time when the alleged father had no physical access to the mother.
It does not appear, from the available information, that any of the three conditions above exists in the Wani case.
On May 28, Rep. Trent Franks introduced H. Res. 601, cosponsored by 29 of his House colleagues, condemning Meriam’s sentence.
FRC’s Tony Perkins has said that Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson could act immediately to extend refugee status to Meriam and the children.
On Saturday, a reported Army deserter and alleged Taliban collaborator, Bowe Bergdahl, was rescued by U.S. Special Forces while Meriam and her American-citizen children struggled to survive in a disease-infested prison in which one child dies each day during the summer months.
The State Department defended Bergdahl and said that it would “continue to to care for him and his family.” In an interview with a Fox News producer, spokeswoman Marie Harf said that despite Bergdahl’s platoon-mates’ accounts of his having walked away of his own accord, “…we don’t know the fact pattern yet here. We don’t. Nobody knows exactly what happened that night. As the facts emerge, as he’s able to discuss them with the Department of Defense, we will see where that takes us.”
Harf disagreed that Bergdahl’s platoon members “have the best indication what happened that night,” as stated by Fox News producer Lucas Tomlinson.
Harf said that Bergdahl is “innocent until proven guilty,” but that was not the case in the court-martial of CDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III (Ret.) and an untold number of others.
Bergdahl’s unit was forced to keep silent about his disappearance for nearly five years, and JAG trainees are, to this day, 23 years later, forbidden to discuss Fitzpatrick’s kangaroo court-martial about which The Post & Email and Fitzpatrick are co-authoring a book.
The Wikipedia entry for Harf was inexplicably closed on April 13 of this year. Her biography posted at the State Department’s website reports that she has been serving as Deputy Department Spokesperson within the Bureau of Public Affairs for one year. Prior to her position at State, she worked toward confirmation of putative Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who has also justified Bergdahl’s rescue. On Thursday, Hagel claimed in an interview with the BBC that key members of Obama’s putative cabinet were “unanimous” in deciding to retrieve Bergdahl when they did.
On Tuesday evening, Sen. Saxby Chambliss told Fox News’s Megyn Kelly that “he didn’t know” if the Army was concealing something when it showed him a file it had maintained on Bergdahl which did not contain a letter Bergdahl is reported by his unit members to have written renouncing his U.S. citizenship and condemning the Army mission in Afghanistan before leaving his post on June 30, 2009.
An Army private condemned of desertion was executed during World War II.
The U.S. Navy continues to hide a forgery placed in Fitzpatrick’s court-martial and service records in 1990 by a one-star admiral and his staff criminal assistants, including Fitzpatrick’s defense attorney. Placed on a bogus “confession letter” which Fitzpatrick had never seen, the forgery misspells his last name and omits the generation “III” number Fitzpatrick always uses when signing his name. For nearly 24 years, the Navy has continued to stonewall requests for the original court-martial file after having lied to members of Congress about the circumstances which led to its creation.
On Thursday morning, The Post & Email contacted Chambliss’s office to advise him of the Fitzpatrick case in which the original of the forgery has never been opened to public scrutiny, despite numerous requests.
In January, the Inspector General of the Navy refused to reopen an investigation to determine the author of the forgery. Within the last year, members of Congress have failed to respond to The Post & Email’s request for the record, including this writer’s U.S. representative, Joseph Courtney.
In a case similar to Meriam Wani’s arising in early April, another Sudanese woman, Faiza Abdallah, was immediately arrested after a government official noticed that her name and religion indicated on a national identification card did not appear to match. Abdallah is awaiting trial for adultery and apostasy for marrying a Catholic who since abandoned her. Abdallah told authorities her family raised her as a Christian, but they claim her name is Muslim and that she has therefore committed the same “crimes” as Meriam.