Sri Lanka’s Rizana Nafeek: Mother forgives Saudi beheading

The mother of a Sri Lankan domestic worker beheaded in Saudi Arabia has forgiven those who she says wanted her daughter executed.

Sri Lanka's Rizana Nafeek: Mother forgives Saudi beheading
Rafeena Nafeek has rejected any compensation from Saudi Arabia

Rafeena Nafeek said her daughter, Rizana, was innocent and was wrongfully convicted of killing a baby in 2005.

The Saudi government said that she could not be pardoned because the baby’s parents wanted the punishment.

Documents show she was only 17 at the time of the killing and that her execution was a breach of child rights.

Rizana Nafeek’s parents came to Colombo from their humble home in eastern Sri Lanka two weeks after the housemaid was executed.

A weeping Mrs Nafeek said she had forgiven the baby’s parents who reportedly insisted on her daughter’s beheading.

“There’s no point in blaming anyone – Rizana has gone,” she told the BBC’s Azzam Ameen.

“We only got to know [about] her execution from the media. They [the Saudi authorities] should have at least told us about it.

“Even our request to get her body to Sri Lanka was refused.”

The executed maid’s family waited eight years to know her fate.

Trial ‘a farce’

Mrs Nafeek urged other impoverished families not to send their daughters for domestic work in Saudi Arabia or anywhere else.

Sri Lanka's Rizana Nafeek: Mother forgives Saudi beheading
Sri Lanka’s Rizana Nafeek: Mother forgives Saudi beheading

Instead she said that they should educate their children, a wish that Rizana had expressed for her own young siblings before her death.

The BBC’s Charles Haviland in Colombo says that it appears that the maid’s passport was falsified to give her age as 23 when she went to Saudi Arabia – other documents said to be genuine show that in fact she was only 17 and therefore a child.

Soon afterwards a baby in her care died in what she said was a choking accident, but the Saudi courts said was strangulation.

Human rights groups said her trial was a farce as she had no translator and no lawyer until after being sentenced.

Mrs Nafeek has publicly rejected compensation money offered by Riyadh, saying she would not accept anything from “the country that killed my child”.

However on Tuesday the Sri Lankan president handed the family a sum of $7,800 (£4,900) extended by the Foreign Employment Bureau.

Our correspondent says that Mrs Nafeek’s wish for other girls not to go abroad may not easily come true – just this week two underage girls from the same area were apprehended trying to go to Saudi Arabia.

The government says that it wants to introduce a new law to increase the age limit to 25.


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