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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Delightful Visit with Meriam Ibrahim and Family

The Christian mother put on death row for refusing to become a Muslim has revealed that her baby girl has not been damaged after she gave birth whilst shackled to the floor.

Meriam Ibrahim said that two-month-old Maya will undergo an ultrasound in the coming weeks to confirm that she will be able to walk.

It had been feared that, like her father Daniel Wani, a US citizen who has muscular dystrophy, she could be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life.
Meriam and Maya

Waiting: Meriam Ibrahim, her husband Daniel Wani and baby Maya are pictured inside the US embassy in Khartoum where Meriam is waiting to hear when she can leave Sudan

Meriam, 27, a doctor, spoke to Italian journalist and activist Antonella Napoli who visited her and her family in the library of the US embassy in the capital Khartoum which has become their makeshift home while they wait to leave Sudan.

Four camp beds have been put down on the floor and the family are being attended to by embassy staff in the cramped building.

Writing exclusively for MailOnline, Miss Napoli said that Meriam and Daniel wanted to thank the public for all their support which played a huge part in getting her out of jail.

That would include your prayers and mine. Thank You, Lord. Please keep praying for this family until they are safely in America.

Miss Napoli is one of the few journalists to speak to Meriam in person since she was freed on June 30 after spending eight months behind bars in a women's prison in Khartoum.

Meriam had been sentenced to death and 100 lashes for apostasy and adultery for marrying Daniel as they are both Christian and a court wanted her to convert to Islam.

Daniel Wani and Maya
During her time in jail Meriam gave birth to Maya - and her son Martin, 21 months, was with her during the entire ordeal.

Miss Napoli said that on her visit she found Meriam in ‘good physical and mental condition, although she’s naturally been tested by this experience’.

She describes Meriam as a ‘shy girl, slight in build with perfect skin, like porcelain’ who does not speak English so Daniel, a biochemist, translates.

Miss Napoli writes: ‘When I started to talk to her she was keeping her eyes down.

‘It was difficult for her to meet my gaze. Her hands were folded in her lap as if to protect herself. Her experience in the prison was shocking. 

‘She knows that her and her family will be safe only when they will be very far from away from Sudan.’

Miss Napoli describes the room where the family are staying as ‘full of shelves and books’ with a large plasma screen TV to keep them entertained.
Reporter Antonella Napoli
They are being looked after by an embassy worker called Patricia.

Secrets: The family were seized by the National Intelligence Security Services, dubbed the 'Agents of Fear' by Amnesty International, which accused them of a catalog of abuses

Miss Napoli writes: ‘Patricia tells me that Meriam is in the bathroom with Martin. Daniel is sitting in the wheelchair. For years he has been suffering from muscular dystrophy.

'I hold his hand. His eyes tell me much more than his words. His eyes are full of gratitude. I hear a cry. On the bed, behind my back, there is Maya.

'I ask Daniel if I can take his daughter in my arms. She is small, wearing a yellow and blue dress with the words ' I love ocean'. 

'She has a lot of black hair, and her eyes are bright and alive. She's so beautiful. I lose myself in her eyes. In that moment Meriam comes in. 

'Martin is in her arms, naked. He has just had a bath. He is smaller than I imagined. She looks lovely in her flowered dress and her long braided hair.'

On her visit Miss Napoli brought gifts for the children - a teddy bear for Martin and a little white dress with blue ribbons for Maya and a silk scarf for her.

Miss Napoli writes: ‘She likes it, she is happy and excited like a child.

'I ask if she is more quiet now that the doctor who visited Maya in the embassy said that she is fine and that in a few weeks Maya will have an ultrasound exam which will be able to confirm that Maya will not have problems in walking in the future. 

'Meriam feared that giving birth in chains, without being able to open her legs, could have caused damage to the child. She is a doctor, remember.

US 'working with Sudan' to get death-row mom out of country
Daniel, Meriam and Maya
'All the family is well, now. Daniel repeats it many times. Looking at his wife and children with a loving gaze. And that love, I said to them, has allowed them to overcome this absurd story. 

'Their love and the love of hundreds of thousands of people that have rallied for her freedom across the world.

'Daniel will not let me leave before thanking again for the commitment of people and media that pressed for her released.'

Meriam’s journey has been a hellish roller coaster.

The day after her sentence was overturned she and her family tried to fly to South Sudan en route to the US but was accused of using false papers to make the trip.

What happens next is unclear; Meriam could face an entirely new trial for the forgery allegations or the government may dismiss the case.
Khartoum Airport
Meriam, her husband and children were detained by 40 agents from the National Intelligence Security Services, dubbed the 'Agents of Fear' by Amnesty International, which accused them of a catalog of abuses.

Their lawyer told MailOnline at the time he didn't  know what charges they were being held on.

Now adding to her woes is her half brother (from Hell) Al Samani Al Hadi has filed a new case against her even though he has publicly stated he wants to execute her.

Meriam’s case has attracted international attention; it has been highlighted by human rights campaigners and people such as Bill and Hillary Clinton and human rights campaigner Mia Farrow.

The governments of the UK, Canada and the Netherlands all called for her to be freed and US Secretary of State said he was concerned about her treatment.

Miss Napoli revealed behind the scenes the Italian government has been working hard to get Meriam out of the Sudan having been deeply moved by her plight. Italians are so emotional - God bless them.

She writes: 'Last week Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Lapo Pistelli was in Khartoum and during his visit – the highest-level visit by a member of the Italian Government and European Union to Sudan for nearly 3 yearshe raised the question of Meriam’s release in all of his meetings with representatives of the Sudanese institutions.

'He discussed her case with the First Vice President, Bakri Hassan Saleh, Foreign Minister Ali Karti, and the assistant to the President, Ibrahim Ghandour.

'They all said they were willing to cooperate to reach a positive and speedy solution to the case.'

Miss Napoli said that according to diplomatic sources, and in line with the Italian government’s actions over the last two months, Mr Pistelli’s visit should play a decisive part in reaching a positive outcome for Meriam.

Miss Napoli added that she believes that Meriam will be on her way to the US ‘very soon’, although the Sudanese government is unpredictable (and so is her half-brother from Hell) and could delay her departure again.