07/02/2014, 00.00
SUDAN

A new problem every day for Mariam Ibrahim

Arrested for a second time as she waited for a flight to the United States on charges of travelling with false documents and giving false information, Ms Ibrahim said that her papers were "100% correct and it was approved by the South Sudan ambassador and the American ambassador." In a telephone interview, she describes the ordeal of giving birth in prison with chains on a table.

Khartoum (AsiaNews/Agencies) - "There's a new problem every day about me leaving," said Mariam Yehya Ibrahim during a telephone interview with CNN.

She and her husband Daniel Wani were released last Thursday after they were arrested at Khartoum airport on their way to the United States with their children.

Now, the two are waiting to see what will happen in the light of the latest allegations against her, namely that she was travelling on forged documents and gave false information.

Sudanese authorities accuse Ms Ibrahim of trying to leave without the correct paperwork. Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services said that she had South Sudanese travel documents despite not being a citizen of South Sudan, and that she was heading to the United States, which is not her native country.

She is adamant that she "never forged any papers". In fact, "How can my paperwork be wrong? My paperwork came from the embassy. It's 100% correct and it was approved by the South Sudan ambassador and the American ambassador," she explained.

"The South Sudanese embassy took responsibility and released the papers. It's in my right to use the papers and have a South Sudanese passport because my husband is a South Sudanese citizen. He has an American passport and a South Sudanese passport."

She described as "terrorising" the way Sudanese police officers took her and her husband, who uses a wheelchair, from the departures hall as they waited to check in for their flight.

"We were scared and wondering what was wrong. They locked us in that room for four to five hours and the whole time we were trying to figure out what the problem was," she said.

She claims that the charges were filed in court before the police even investigated the claims against her and her husband. When they finally figured out what the alleged offense was, she was shocked.

"I can't even decide what I should do right now. I want to travel but at the same time, I don't want to travel. But the state I'm in right now means that I'm forced to. There's a new problem every day about me leaving."

"I'm currently in a safe place. It's definitely safe but not comfortable," Ibrahim said during the telephone interview.

Asked how she felt in prison, refused access to a hospital as the birth of her child neared, Ibrahim said, "I was only thinking about my children and how I was going to give birth. I was mostly scared of giving birth in prison."

"I gave birth chained. Not cuffs but chains on my legs. I couldn't open my legs so the women had to lift me off the table. I wasn't attached to the table," she said.

Doctors fear that the circumstances of the baby's birth may have lasting consequences. "I don't know in the future whether she'll need support to walk or not," said Ibrahim.

Meanwhile in Sudan attacks against Christian communities continue.

On Monday, Sudanese military forces destroyed a church. "The attack came a day after the authorities sent a letter in which they said they would demolish the church," the parish priest Fr Kuoa Shimal lamented.

At the same time, the threat of violence is emptying Sudan's churches. For a Christian activist, "The Church is terrified. No one feels safe praying."

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