The Caged Bird – Rizana Nafeek
It is unfortunate, we have conveniently forgotten her. She continues to languish in the Dawdami High Security Prisons since 25 May 2005. Unfortunately we have not done anything to secure her release. She is still in the same Dawdami Prison, without any light at the end of the tunnel.
To know her present plight, I contacted Dr. Kifaya Ifthikar , a Sri Lankan dental surgeon working in Riyadh and who visits regularly to the Dawdami Prison to meet Rizana Nafeek.
I asked her when she last went to the Dawdami Prison to meet Rizana Nafeek. She said last time she visited was in the first week of April 2012.
She said that as nothing is moving in her favor, she is planning to go again in the second week of June, to meet Rizana Nafeek.
When asked about the condition of Rizana Nafeek, Dr. Kifaya Ifthikar said that she is ‘OK’. She is keeping well without any problems. She used to cry for some time whenever she sees me. She also said that whenever she visits the prisons, she makes arrangements for Rizana Nafeek to speak by phone to her parents in Muthur, Sri Lanka.
“She does not know that her appeal in the Supreme Court was rejected. She does not know that the Supreme Court has confirmed her death penalty. She even does not know that she awaits the consequences of beheading,one day or other, in case we failed to secure her release.
The poor soul, she is hoping that one day she will be released. She is always happy whenever I visit her and she is of the opinion that something good is happening to her. “
When I asked Dr. Kifaya Ifthikar in what language she talks with Rizana Nafeek? She said that she use to converse with her in Tamil and now she knows very good Arabic and very fluent in that language, as she is inside the prison with Arabic people.
Dr. Kifaya Ifthikar said that from the day she was arrested on 25 May 2005, to date, she continues to remain the Dawdami Prison. The prison is like an urban house and she is not in a death row. There is no any problem for her inside the prison. Everything is perfectly all right for her and she is inside, but she has to come out soon from the prison.
She says that Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh knows about her visits to prison, as she has to go in the Embassy vehicle as it is a 4 hour long journey from Riyadh and there are lot of check points and have to show documents and it is possible to go only by the Embassy vehicle.
It is very long she is there in the prison and she should come out soon.
Dr. Kifaya Ifthikar said last time I was in Sri Lanka I went and met her parents in their house in Muthur. I met them last August. I went and stayed with the family from morning to evening and then went back. I am in contact with them almost once in a week. The two sisters of Rizana Nafeek are going to school and their house is also in a very bad condition. I don’t want to do anything immediately. I want the Girl (Rizana Nafeek) to be out first.
Rizana Nafeek of Muthur, when she was 17 years old, became a victim of a recruitment agent who altered her date of birth in her passport, making her as 23-years old and was sent to Saudi Arabia on 22 April 2005 as a house maid, to work in the family of Mr & Mrs Naif Jizin Khalaf Al-Otaibi of Dawdami, Saudi Arabia.
On 25th May 2005, she was arrested and thrown into the Dawdami High Security Prison on charges of murdering the 4 month old baby son of Mr & Mrs Naif Jizin Khalaf Al-Otaibi of Dawdami.
Initially, on June 16, 2007, a three-member panel of judges from the Dawadami High Court headed by Chief Justice Abdullah Al-Rosaimi found Rizana Nafeek guilty of murdering the four-month-old son of Naif Jiziyan Khalaf Al-Otaibi and sentenced her to death.
The court informed Rizana Nafeek that she could file an appeal against her death sentence, which she did.
Subsequently, the Supreme Court of Saudi Arabia confirmed on the 25th of September 2010, the death sentence of Sri Lanka house maid Rizana Nafeek.
In October 2010, Sri Lanka President made a special appeal to King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, King of Saudi Arabia to grant pardon to her.
Later on 18 November 2011, an eighteen member delegation appointed by Minister Dilan Perera went to Riyadh to seek the release of Rizana Nafeek. The delegation was more or less led by Kingsley Ranawaka , chairman of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment .
After their failed attempt, Kingsley Ranawaka is no more the Chairman of Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment. When Asian Tribune asked whether he was removed because of the failed attempt to secure the release of Rizana Nafeek, a spokeswoman of the Ministry of Foreign Employment Promotion & Welfare said, “it had no connection”.
Subsequently, Asian Tribune contacted Dilan Perera, Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion & Welfare and asked about Kingsley Ranawaka, the Chairman of the Employment Bureau. The Minister said that President Mahinda Rajapaksa has transferred him as Chairman of Mega Naguma.
Also Asian Tribune asked Dilan Perera about the action taken by his Ministry regarding the release of Rizana Nafeek. The Minister said, “I don’t give press interviews on policy matters as that is not the way for us to move about regarding getting Rizana’s pardon. Sorry Mr. Rajasingham, I respect you a lot.
It is a pity the poor Rizana Nafeek is still languishing in the prison and so far no arrangements are made to secure her freedom.
Let us all pray for her release.
- Asian Tribune –