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» 12/05/2012
SRI LANKA - SAUDI ARABIA
Sri Lanka's Church and government hope for Rizana Nafeek's release
by Melani Manel Perera
The Saudi crown prince announces a pardon for death row inmates as a blessing for the health of his ailing king. The young Muslim woman was sentenced to death in 2007 for allegedly killing an infant. A Catholic nun expresses joy at the news, but urges the government to protect better migrant workers.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - The Catholic Church and the Sri Lankan government are hopeful that Rizana Nafeek might be freed. The Muslim woman was convicted for killing an infant and sentenced to death in 2007. Recently, Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz al Saud announced that he would pardon inmates on death row as a blessing for ailing King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz. His statement has revived hope among those fighting for the young woman's release. The prince is in fact the kingdom's defence minister and first deputy prime minister.

"The possibility of a pardon is a great consolation for all Sri Lankans, especially her family, who have been asking for her release for years," Sister Rita Janet, of Catholic National Commission for Migrants, told AsiaNews.

Sister Deepa Fernando, from the Holy Family Sisters, is also confident. However, the "government of Sri Lanka has to assume its responsibilities." According to the nun, the administration of President Mahinda Rajapaksa "has a duty to check who goes abroad to work. If they had done this, minors would not become victims of such situations."

Originally from a very poor family in Mutur village (Trincomalee District in the Eastern Province), Rizana had come to Saudi Arabia in 2005, when she was only 17, on a false passport, to work as a domestic helper.

When her employer's child died, she was accused of murder and sentenced to die in 2007 after a phony trial based on a confession written in Arabic she was forced to sign, even though she does not know that language.

The Sri Lankan government, as well as national and international NGOs, including Caritas, turned to the European Union. They also tried to clarify the situation with the dead child's family.

Fr George Sigamoney, head of Caritas Sri Lanka, joyfully welcomed the prince's statement; however, he is well aware that "the injustice meted out to vulnerable migrant women is growing day by day as many women migrate to other countries as unskilled labour for domestic work."

Saudi Arabia is one the main destinations for Sri Lankans seeking unskilled jobs. Usually, migrants are underage and sent off with false papers in order to leave Sri Lanka.

Often adult women, some with children, are forced to emigrate because they have lost their husbands and do not earn enough money at home to feed their families.

The lack of training, experience and government assistance makes migrant women very vulnerable to abusive and violent employers.

In order to put a stop to the problem, Sri Lankan authorities have cancelled contracts with more than 600 foreign employment agencies, mostly in Saudi Arabia.

About 1.8 million Sri Lankans currently work aboard, 45 per cent women.


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See also
01/10/2013 SAUDI ARABIA- SRI LANKA
Migration flows to Saudi Arabia must be regulated to avoid another Rizana Nafeek
12/13/2010 SRI LANKA - SAUDI ARABIA
Sri Lanka, Muslims and Catholics together to save the life of Rizana Nafeek
by Melani Manel Perera
05/11/2012 SRI LANKA
Sentenced to death in S Arabia in 2007, Rizana Nafeek's life hangs by a thread
by Melani Manel Perera
06/06/2012 SRI LANKA
Social activists to Elizabeth II: For Diamond Jubilee, save Rizana Nafeek’s life
by Melani Manel Perera
07/09/2011 SRI LANKA
Sinhalese and Tamil Muslims together for Rizana Nafeek
by Melani Manel Perera

Editor's choices
IRAQ-ITALY
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul," the thanks of the Patriarch Louis Sako; the concerns of the Bishop of Kurdistan
by Bernardo CervelleraThe head of the Chaldean Church is grateful for the AsiaNews campaign and hopes that "this chain of solidarity will reach far and wide”. Helping refugees to remain in Iraq. But many want to flee abroad. The bishop of Amadiyah where thousands of displaced people have found haven in churches and homes: We also help the Arabs (Muslims), and Yazidis, for free and without looking at our confessional differences.
ITALY - IRAQ
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul" to respond directly to Iraq's emergencyAsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis's urgent appeal "to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others." More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind and now have nothing to live on. To help them, five euros a day are enough. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, which will distribute them according to the needs of each family.
CHINA - VATICAN
Wenzhou bishop and priests slam government's campaign against crosses and churches in Zhejiang
by Eugenia ZhangFor Mgr Vincent Zhu Weifang, from the official Church, the campaign of destruction is increasing social instability. It is real persecution against the Christian faith. The bishop apologises for failing to intervene sooner. He was hoping that the campaign would end quickly. Catholics and Protestants suffer injuries as they attempt to defend their sacred buildings. For priests in Wenzhou, the campaign is unfair and touches buildings that have all the right papers. Such "stupid acts" by the government are undermining social harmony.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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