Beheading of SriLankan Teenager Updated sign now

His Majesty King Abdullah Bin вAbdul вAziz Al-Saud
The Custodian of the Two Holy Shrines
Office of His Majesty the King
Royal Court
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

09th July 2007



Your Royal Highness,



An appeal for mercy to His Majesty King Abdullah and the Saudi Arabian Government в from the global community in solidarity with the Muttur Muslim Community of Sri Lanka - on behalf of a teenage Muslim girl from our village facing the death sentence in the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.





We are a global community empathizing with the community of Muslims living in Muttur in the East of Sri Lanka. We collectively and with utmost respect appeal to His Majesty the King Abdullah for a pardon of Miss Rizana Nafeek who was sentenced to death by beheading by the Saudi Arabian High Court on 16th June 2007. Please find below details of the case and background as we understand them.



Miss Rizana Nafeek, a young Sri Lankan domestic worker, was found guilty of murder of the 4 month old baby son of Mr. Naif Jiziyan Khklafal Otaibi and sentenced to death on 16th June 2007 by a three member panel of judges of the Dawadami High Court in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia



Rizana, is nineteen years, born on February 4, 1988 as shown in her legally certified passport. She comes from Muttur -a war-torn and an impoverished Muslim majority village in the north-east of Sri Lanka. Rizana was still a schoolgirl studying at Shafi Nagar School when she was compelled to come to Saudi Arabia as a maid in May 2005 at the age of 17 years old. Her passport had been falsified by an employment agency giving her date of birth as February 02 1982 and her age on arrival of 22 years. Rizana is one of many young Muslim girls from our village forced in this way to come to your Kingdom as a result of the 24 year civil war in Sri Lanka.



Though the Muslim community has not been a party to this ethnic conflict we have paid heavy price. In just one example last year, fierce fighting between the two sides led to the loss forty-nine innocent Muslim civiliansв lives 35,000 people forced to leave their homes. As a result of the conflict, many poor families are left with no option but to send teenage children for employment outside the country. Some employment agencies exploit the situation of the impoverished families to recruit under aged girls for employment. This is how Rizana who should have enjoyed her childhood and school life as a teenager ended up as domestic worker in Saudi Arabia. We are writing this with the hope that His Majesty will understand our current predicament and feeling of hopelessness.



Following Rizanaвs arrival in Riyadh in 2005, was sent by her sponsor to work in the family household of Mr. Al Otaibi in Dawadami. Mr Al Otaibiвs wife was blessed with a new-born baby boy in 2007. Miss Nafeek was assigned to bottle-feed the infant who was by then four months old. Rizana had no experience or training of any sort in caring for such a young infant and was often left alone when bottle feeding the child.



On 22nd May 2007, Rizana was feeding the baby-boy who started choking as so often happens to young babies. Rizana shouted for help and tried to sooth the child by rubbing gently his chest, neck and face, doing whatever she could to help him. Hearing Rizana's cries the mother came but by the time she arrived the baby was already dead or unconscious.



In response to this tragic accident, the family members handed Rizana over to the police and accused her of strangling the baby. At the police station Miss Nafeek was not provided access to a translator or advice on due process. Young, fearful, alone, confused and under pressure she signed a full confession to the murder of the baby by strangulation. She later repeated her confession in open court. However, on 3rd February 2007, Miss Nafeek retracted her confession and informed the court that it had originally been obtained by the Police under much duress. Nevertheless she was found guilty of murder.



We understand that an urgent request has been made by the Sri Lankan Embassy to the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to grant a one month period for an appeal against the death sentence on behalf of Miss Nafeek. That one month period to begin following the receipt of the certified copy of the judgment, copies of the forensic medical report, the criminal investigation report and the statements of Miss Nafeek given to the Police and the Court. We believe that this documentation has not yet been made available to the Embassy.



We, the Muttur Muslim community are becoming concerned that time is running out for a formal appeal procedure. We are equally concerned that an appeal of this type is a very costly affair and that neither Rizanaвs family nor the Muttur community has the avenue to raise such an enormous amount of money to deploy lawyers in a foreign land.



In light of these terrible events, we, the Muttur Muslims, must first, collectively ask you to express our deepest condolences to the family for the sad loss of this poor innocent babyвs life.



We further place our trust in your Royal Majesty to find a way to spare the life of our innocent Sri Lankan teenage girl. Your pardon will give a much improvised and marginalized community great relief and will alleviate us from a desperate situation.



We, the community, assure you our utmost respect and thank you in advance for your generous assistance in this matter.





With our most sincere regards,

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Eddie HerringBy:
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