Muslim Council Urges Saudi King To Pardon Convicted Sri Lankan Migrant Workers

The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka wrote to King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia to urge him to pardon the two Sri Lankan migrant workers who were convicted for adultery.

A 45 year old, unnamed Sri Lankan migrant domestic worker and mother of 4 has been sentenced to death by stoning in Saudi Arabia for ‘adultery’ and the male migrant worker is to receive 100 lashes.

Writing to the King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud,the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka said; “Your Majesty, the Muslim community live as a minority community with equal status as per the constitution. Your Majesty’s kind intervention in pardoning these unfortunate victims would enhance the high esteem in which Sri Lankan’s hold Islam, the people and the kingdom of Sri Lanka.”

We publish below the letter in full;

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques,
Royal Highness King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud
Riyadh, Royal Court: 11-488-2222 Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

The Embassy of Saudi Arabia, 43, Horton Place,
Colombo – 07.

Your Majesty, As-salamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuhu

Re: Appeal for Pardoning the Sri Lankan Housemaid and the Male Migrant Worker

The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka is deeply grieved and is reaching out to Your Highness on behalf of the people of Sri Lanka for clemency to the house maid sentenced to death by stoning for the serious crime of adultery while the other respondent, a Sri Lankan male migrant worker is to receive 100 lashes.

The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka presumes that the housemaid unfortunately sentenced to death by stoning and the male worker who would face lashing were unaware of the law and cultural practices in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Their illiteracy in this respect is solely due to their underprivileged and marginalised socio-economic background at their home country, Sri Lanka, which denied them even the minimum level of education required to be aware of complexities in a legal and cultural system that is inherently foreign to them. We respect the law in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the decision made by the Saudi Arabian judiciary and at the same time believes that on extremely humanitarian grounds the two convicted individuals from Sri Lanka deserve your Royal Highnesses kind pardon.

We convey these views considering the extraordinary level of hardships she faced in Sri Lanka which forced her to leave her family unwillingly in search of employment. The conditions which she faced at her home country left her no other option than to seek employment as a low paid housemaid in Saudi Arabia. Your Majesty, it was not her wish to be separated from her family but the gruesome economic hardships that encircle her life in her home country Sri Lanka, having to feed, clothe and educate her children who are still adolescences while her husband has no access to secure employment. These abject economic and social conditions, entirely independent from her will, forced her to part with her loved ones and provide them a means to live by remitting her meagre savings secured from her wage as a domestic worker in Saudi Arabia.

She did so only out of self-sacrifice to support her family and bring them at least faintly out of economic misery and permanent marginalisation in society. The fact that she chose to work as a housemaid in Saudi Arabia since 2013 knowing that she will not be so financially rewarded in turn explains the level of helplessness she had to suffer at her home country.

Her family on the other hand also are tormented by indebtedness given that sinking into debt remains the only means of meeting even the daily subsistence needs of her and her beloved family. These conditions hurt her physical and mental wellbeing and in turn driving her unknowingly into her current plight. Your Majesty, we therefore believe her situation needs humanitarian interpretation rather than a legal one and hence on humanitarian grounds she needs your mercy and kind pardoning.

Your Majesty allow me to bring to your kind attention that the economic hardships we stressed above are not subjective creations of the victim’s own design but are entirely a result of the backwardness and underdevelopment of the state of the economy and the political establishment of her home country, Sri Lanka. As stated by Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe in his recent economic policy statement 43% of Sri Lanka’s population live under just USD 2 per day which is hardly sufficient to secure even the daily food requirements of a person. Further, a recent UNWHO study showed that 40% of Sri Lanka’s pregnant women and 50% of school children are suffering from malnourishment. Further, over 70% of the workers in Sri Lanka are precariously/informally employed receiving below subsistence level wages having access to no social security, employment guarantee, retirement benefits, etc. These dismal economic realities that remain distant to public eye are responsible for the plight of the Sri Lankan women who seek precarious employment outside the country.

Allow me also to seek Your Majesty’s kind attention to the fact that it’s these socio-economic realities of the convicted housemaid’s home country which are beyond her control that ultimately renders her illiterate on legal protocols that are unfamiliar to her by nature. In this light considering her deprived background which led her into her current plight we kindly urge Your Majesty to pardon her and the male worker and save her life from the unspeakably painful death that awaits her and send them back to home country where a trial will subject them to the law in their homeland.

She is not now nor has she ever been a threat to society and the incident took place under the force of economic and social alienation and not in normal civilian living conditions. She and the male worker would even be of benefit to society considering the honesty they have displayed in pleading guilty in spite of knowing the fate that would fall upon them by doing so. Further, Your Majesty, her children, parents and family will benefit immensely from her release. As adolescences her children needs her the most than anything that could be offered to them at this critical phase in their lives. Considering these extreme grievances we hope Your Majesty would release her from the death penalty and the male counterpart and send them back to their homeland.

Your Majesty, the Muslim community live as a minority community with equal status as per the constitution. Your Majesty’s kind intervention in pardoning these unfortunate victims would enhance the high esteem in which Sri Lankan’s hold Islam, the people and the kingdom of Sri Lanka.

Wassalamualaikum Warahmatullahi-Wabarakatuh

Yours in Islam

N M Ameen
President (Muslim Council of Sri Lanka)

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