An official website of the United States government

Statement by Samantha Power on Meriam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag
July 25, 2014

Statement by Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations,on Meriam Yahya Ib

New York, NY
July 24, 2014


On May 15, a Sudanese court sentenced Meriam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag to be hanged to death for not denouncing Christianity. She was held in Omdurman Federal Women’s Prison with her 20-month-old son, shackled with swollen legs, and denied medical treatment despite being 8 months pregnant, according to her husband. Even as Ms. Ishag gave birth to her second child, a daughter, on May 27th, she said her legs remained chained to the floor.

Today, we breathe a collective sigh of relief at the news that Ms. Ishag has been finally allowed to leave Sudan. She has gone from facing execution to meeting with the Pope, and she has become a symbol for all who suffer for their faith around the world. We look forward to welcoming Ms. Ishag to the United States.

While we are relieved that the Government of Sudan allowed Ms. Ishag to leave the country, we call on Khartoum to repeal the laws that put her in jail in the first place. These laws are inconsistent with Sudan’s 2005 Interim Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and basic human decency. Sudan must respect the universal human rights — including the right to freedom of religion — of all of its citizens, and the United States will continue to fight for all who are denied these fundamental freedoms, in Sudan and around the world.