Meriam and Family Remain at U.S. Embassy in Khartoum

NO “LIBERTY” TO LEAVE

by Sharon Rondeau

The motto of the three-year-old nation of South Sudan is “Justice, Liberty, Prosperity”

(Jul. 2, 2014) — The Christian Sudanese mother of two who was condemned to death for refusing to recant her Christian faith remains within the confines of the U.S. embassy in Khartoum, Sudan on Tuesday after her sentence was overturned and the family attempted to leave the country on June 24.

Meriam Ibrahim Wani was jailed in January with her then-15-month-old son Martin for “adultery,” which had been reported by her brother for having married a Christian man, Daniel.  Meriam told the court that she had been raised a Christian by her mother after her father abandoned them when she was six years old.

Under Sharia law, it is illegal for a child to fail to practice Islam if the father was a Muslim, punishable by death.

NBC News reported that Meriam’s brother was responsible for the family’s detention at the airport.

Meriam was eight months’ pregnant when on May 15, she was sentenced to death for “apostasy” in addition to 100 lashes for the conviction of adultery.  She gave birth to daughter Maya on May 27 with her chains on her legs because prison guards were reportedly unable to obtain permission from the warden to remove them after she went into labor.

Her Muslim brother told authorities last fall that because their father had been a Muslim, Meriam had violated Sharia law by marrying a Christian. The brother, who claimed that Meriam had been given a “potion” by Daniel to make her abandon Islam, said that his sister deserved to die for the crime.

After an extraordinary international outcry at her sentence and treatment at the hands of her jailers, Meriam’s sentence was overturned and she was freed on June 23.  On Tuesday, June 24, the family reportedly tried to board a flight bound for the United States but was arrested by Sudanese security forces who accused Meriam of using “forged” exit documents.  After spending two days in a detention area at the airport, the family was reportedly released to the U.S. embassy in South Sudan.

South Sudan became its own nation in 2011 over the strident objections of Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir, who has waged a bombing campaign against the primarily-Christian, oil-rich South Sudan since it declared independence.  Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged crimes against humanity.

Meriam denies that her documents were not in proper order and that they were obtained at “the embassy.”  The South Sudanese embassy affirmed that Meriam’s passport is authentic.

The Telegraph reported on Monday that Meriam believes that because of her physical constraints from the chains, Maya will be physically disabled.  Daniel suffers from muscular dystrophy and is confined to a wheelchair.

Before their release from prison, Daniel described his son as “traumatized.”

Daniel became a U.S. citizen in 2005 but reportedly holds passports from both the U.S. and South Sudan.

While the Sudanese embassy said that Meriam was “free to leave” the day she and her family were detained at the airport, it is reportedly a decision that can be made only by Sudanese officials.  “She just have [sic] to do it legally,” the Sudanese embassy in Washington, DC continues to say.

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