The Ralph Gonsalves government says it is “most pleased” that a Sudanese woman put on death row for refusing to reject Christianity, is now safely in Italy.
The woman, Meriam Ibrahim, was imprisoned for her Christian beliefs, and after her release was flown to Rome recently, where she met with Pope Francis.
“We celebrate her audience with Pope Francis on Thursday, July 24, 2014,” Hans King, press secretary to Prime Minister Gonsalves said in a press release.
King spoke of Ibrahim’s “profound commitment as a Christian and her remarkable fortitude in the face of religious persecution in the Islamic State of Sudan”.
He said several governments, civil society organisations, and prominent individuals world-wide pressured the Sudanese government to release Ibrahim in the care of her husband, family, and friends.
“This campaign on her behalf was successful. The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines was part of this campaign through its diplomatic efforts, including a letter written to the President of Sudan by the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. The Hon. Ralph E. Gonsalves,” King said.
He also issued to the media a copy of the letter, adding that it was being published publicly for the first time.
In the May 16, 2014 letter to Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir, Gonsalves said SVG and the Caribbean Community were “pained and anguished” that Ibrahim, who has a 2-year-old son was pregnant when she was imprisoned, was sentenced to death for apostasy.
The woman gave birth to her second child in prison.
Gonsalves further noted that Ibrahim was sentenced additionally for “adultery”, she being a Muslim-by-birth who married a Christian, Daniel Wani.
“Your Excellency, every system of justice has at its core the exercise of mercy, administered in last resort by the Head of State. Accordingly, I appeal to you to grant the blessing of clemency to this young woman and thus free her and her family from their distress and suffering,” Gonsalves further wrote to Al-Bashir.
King said Gonsalves and his government are “sensitive to the protection and defence of the religious liberty, and other freedoms, of individuals, globally”.
He said there are several instances in which the government of SVG has so acted, mentioning Gonsalves’ letter of Aug. 08, 2010 to the then-President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in relation to Sakineh Mohammadi Ashianti who was sentenced to death by stoning, “an excessive punishment for her alleged wrongful conduct”.
On Oct. 13, 2011, a letter was also sent to Ahmadinejad, regarding an Iranian Evangelical pastor, Yosel Nadarkhani, who was to be put to death for his refusal to renounce his Christian faith.
“The Prime Minister has also made representations to the Iranian government generally on the issue of the alleged persecution of individuals of the Baha’i faith.” King said.
“Our Prime Minister discussed these and other matters, face-to-face, every year at the time of the UN General Assembly meeting, with the then-Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinegad.
“The Prime Minister is committed to continued quiet, and not-so-quiet diplomacy, personal or otherwise, on these human rights issues,” the press secretary further said.