The Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan in Washington DC has noticed with regret some of the official statements and media coverage on the case of the Sudanese citizen Mariam Ibrahim Yahia; as some of them have mistakenly accused the government of Sudan of violating human rights by depriving Mariam of her civil rights as a Sudanese citizen. In this regard, the Embassy would like to confirm the following:
Let’s focus on “violating human rights”. The government of Sudan is asserting that it is innocent in violating Meriam Yahia Ibrahim’s human rights and that the rest of the world is officially, and through media, falsely accusing the government of Sudan.
I will start by saying that the government of Sudan has been documented to be repeatedly violating human rights. Some human rights organizers have even likened it to “ethnic cleansing.” That aside, the specific case of Meriam is in fact a human rights violation.
“According to international law,” they (UN human rights experts) said, “The death penalty may only be imposed for ‘the most serious crimes’, if at all. Choosing and/or changing one’s religion is not a crime at all; on the contrary, it is a basic human right.” They also state that it is the right of every individual to “adopt, change or retain a religion of one’s choice, and to manifest their religion in practice, observance and worship, as well as the right not to be subject to discrimination or coercion on religious grounds.”
I think it is pretty clear that Meriam’s death sentence for apostasy is a human rights violation. Period. There is no grey area. The only ones who don’t recognize this are the ones that have laws similar to Sudan’s.
Secondly, let’s discuss the issue of her civil rights as a Sudanese citizen. According to Katherine Perks, the Program Director of the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies,
“Ms. Ibrahim’s only ‘crime’ is her religious conviction. She has been sentenced to death solely on the basis of her religious beliefs, contrary to equality and non-discrimination guarantees in Sudan’s own Constitution and regional and international commitments made by the Government of Sudan. The sentences of lashings – a form of state sanctioned torture – and the death penalty must be revoked and Ms. Ibrahim released immediately.”
According to those that know Sudanese law, they are violating their own constitution which allows for equality and non-discrimination. Here are the direct words from their Constitution.
6. The country is united by the spirit of allegiance, in conciliation between all the people, and co-operation for the distribution of national power and wealth in justice and without grievance. The State and the society shall strive to entrench the spirit of conciliation and national unity between all the Sudanese for aversion of religious, partisan, and sectarian fanaticism, and eradication of racism.
Freedom of creed and worship
24. Every human being shall have the right of freedom of conscience and religious creed, and he shall have the right to declare his religion or creed, and manifest the same by way of worship, education, practice or performance of rites or ceremonies; and no one shall be coerced to adopt such faith, as he does not believe in, nor to practice rites or services he does not voluntarily consent to; and that is without prejudice to the right of choice of religion, injury to the feelings of others, or to public order, all as may be regulated by law.
Meriam is being denied her right to choose Christianity. She has also been subject to coercion to reject her faith. Because she would not be coerced, she was sentenced to death. She was sentenced to death for claiming her religion, for claiming her human rights, and for claiming her Sudanese rights.
To see the full rebuttal, visit http://followldm.blogspot.com