This is very positive news and credit to Naomi Long and the 57 other MPs for speaking up for Meriam Ibrahim. I have it on good authority from Mrs Long’s team that the reason more didn’t join her is that the letter was issued at short notice and during recess for the election period, otherwise they expect the number would have been greater. However, iIf any MPs wish to add their names to the copy of the letter on this site, they are more than welcome to do so…
Alliance East Belfast MP Naomi Long has called on the Sudanese Ambassador to the UK to help secure the immediate and unconditional release of a Sudanese citizen sentenced to death for marrying a Christian.
Mrs Long wrote to the Ambassador regarding Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, who has been sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery and death by hanging for apostasy. The charge is based on the false assumption that Mrs Ibrahim was a Muslim when she married her Christian husband, when she was in fact raised as a Christian. She is currently imprisoned along with her young son and newborn daughter, who have been denied access to their father.
Mrs Long’s letter, which has been co-signed by 57 fellow MPs, comes after reports at the weekend stated Mrs Ibrahim would be released; however, Sudanese officials confirmed any release would happen after a successful judicial appeal. The letter has been copied to the President of Sudan, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and the Minister for Africa. It also follows an Early Day Motion tabled by Mrs Long on the issue yesterday in parliament.
She said Mrs Ibrahim’s situation was a heartbreaking one.
“On a human level, one cannot help but feel outraged that such a situation could occur in the 21st Century. Sudan must live up to its human rights obligations and its responsibility to act in a manner befitting that of a modern state.
“I have, therefore, written to the Sudanese Ambassador to the UK demanding the immediate and unconditional release of Mrs Ibrahim. I hope this letter, combined with the large number of MPs who have signed it, will demonstrate the passion felt about this issue and the urgent need for the Sudanese government to free Mrs Ibrahim and her young son.
“We have also asked the Sudanese Government to ensure Mrs Ibrahim is receiving the appropriate level of medical care both for herself, her young son, and her unborn child. It is essential the roots of this matter are addressed and so we have also asked the Sudanese repeal the articles of its criminal code which criminalise adultery and apostasy.
“Freedom of religion and freedom from cruel or unusual punishments are international human rights that must be respected. We hope this letter will go some way to expressing the desire of the undersigned to have this issue resolved in a way that will see Mrs Ibrahim and her child released.”
Below is the full text of letter and list of signatories delivered to the Sudanese Ambassador to the UK, Mr Abdullahi Hamad Ali Alazreg:
We are writing to request the immediate and unconditional release of Sudanese citizen, Mrs. Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, by the Government of Sudan.
On 17 February 2014, Mrs Ibrahim was charged with adultery under Article 146 and apostasy under Article 126 of the 1991 Sudanese Penal Code. On 11 May, the Public Order Court in El Haj Yousif, Khartoum, sentenced her to 100 lashes for adultery and to death by hanging for apostasy. These sentences were upheld on 15 May.
We, the undersigned, strongly believe that this gross miscarriage of justice must be overturned. We urge the Government of Sudan to respect and uphold its international human rights obligations as State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by overturning this decision and ensuring the complete and comprehensive protection of Mrs. Ibrahim’s non-derogable right to freedom of religion or belief.
Both of the charges facing Mrs. Ibrahim are based on the incorrect assumption that she was a Muslim which, under Sudanese law, renders her marriage to a Christian man invalid and her identity as a Christian apostasy. However, Mrs. Ibrahim was raised by her practicing Christian Ethiopian Orthodox mother and considers herself to be a life-long Christian. Mrs. Ibrahim legally married her Christian husband, Daniel Wani,in 2012 at a small Christian church ceremony in Khartoum, and the ceremony was recognised by the authorities.
Therefore, as Mrs. Ibrahim has been a Christian her entire life, her marriage to a Christian man is legally valid and she has never renounced Islam, rendering both the charges of adultery and apostasy unfounded. We respectfully urge in the strongest terms that her conviction be overturned without delay and Mrs. Ibrahim’s right to freedom of religion or belief be upheld and protected.
We are also deeply concerned that Mrs. Ibrahim has been denied medical attention and antenatal care for her unborn child whilst in Omdurman Women’s Prison near Khartoum, and that her infant child is incarcerated with her and denied access to his father. This treatment is also in direct contravention with Sudan’s obligations under international human rights law and we call on the Sudanese Government to ensure immediate redress of this situation.
Moreover, we call on the Government of Sudan to address the root of this injustice by repealing Articles 126 and 146 of the 1991 Penal Code which criminalise apostasy and adultery respectively, in conformity with Sudan’s obligations under both the ICCPR and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Sudan is a State Party. We further call on the Government of Sudan to establish a moratorium on executions, as a first step towards abolishing the death penalty, and to abolish the punishment of flogging.
We, the undersigned, call upon the Sudanese Government to approach Mrs Ibrahim’s case with justice, compassion and full adherence to international human rights norms.