PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
Contact: Paul Fidalgo
Phone: (207) 358-9785
E-mail: press@centerforinquiry.net

CFI Demands Sudan Drop Death Sentence and Apostasy Charges against Christian Woman

May 15, 2014

In a message to the Sudanese government, the Center for Inquiry demands all charges be dropped against Meriam Yeyha Ibrahim Ishag, a 27-year-old Christian woman, eight months pregnant, who has been sentenced to 100 lashes and death by hanging for marrying a Christian man.

In its letter to Sudan’s UN ambassador, H.E. Hassan Hamid Hassan, the Center for Inquiry (CFI), a secular humanist advocacy organization, states, “Meriam is being punished for nothing more than changing her mind in regards to religion, and marrying a man who belongs to a religion different than that of her family—both which are universally protected human rights.”

“This kind of violent oppression by Sudan against one of its citizens is abhorrent,” said Michael De Dora, CFI’s United Nations representative. “Religious belief must never be coerced and free expression must never be punished, through threat of imprisonment, violence, or any other means. This cannot go unanswered, and the world will not stand for it.”

CFI reminds Sudan that it is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which strictly forbids this kind of persecution or coercion in terms of religious belief, and the right to marry whom one chooses.

“By prosecuting Meriam and sentencing her to death, Sudan is in clear violation of the ICCPR,” writes CFI. “We call upon the Republic of the Sudan to honor its treaty promises, immediately free Meriam Yeyha Ibrahim Ishag, and end all legal proceedings against her.”

Following is the full text of the letter to be sent to Ambassador Hassan, signed by Mr. De Dora and Ronald A. Lindsay, president and CEO of CFI (also available as a PDF at bit.ly/CFISudanLetter):

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H.E. Hassan Hamid Hassan
Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Sudan to the United Nations
305 East 47th Street, 3 Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10017

Re: Adraf Al-Hadi Mohammed Abdullah/Meriam Yeyha Ibrahim Ishag

Dear Mr. Ambassador,

We are writing to you on behalf of the Center for Inquiry (CFI), an educational and advocacy organization that defends the human rights to freedom of religion, belief, and expression.

CFI is deeply troubled by the recent death sentence imposed on Meriam Yeyha Ibrahim Ishag (formerly known by her Islamic name, Adraf Al-Hadi Mohammed). Earlier today, Meriam, who is just 27 years old and eight months pregnant, was sentenced to death by hanging for the alleged offense of apostasy, before which she will be given 100 lashes, all for the supposed “crime” of marrying a Christian man.

Meriam is being punished for nothing more than changing her mind in regards to religion, and marrying a man who belongs to a religion different than that of her family—both which are universally protected human rights.

Sudan is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 18 of this treaty provides that “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.” It also provides that “No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.” Furthermore, Article 23 provides that “The right of men and women of marriageable age to marry and to found a family shall be recognized.”

By prosecuting Meriam, and sentencing her to death, Sudan is in clear violation of the ICCPR. We call upon the Republic of the Sudan to honor its treaty promises, immediately free Meriam Yeyha Ibrahim Ishag, and end all legal proceedings against her.

We respectfully ask you to relay our concerns, which are shared by many Americans, to Sudanese government officials.

Thank you for your attention to this letter.

Sincerely,

Ronald A. Lindsay
President and CEO

Michael De Dora
Representative to the United Nations

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the Council for Secular Humanism. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. CFI‘s web address is www.centerforinquiry.net.