Sri Lanka recalled envoy from Saudi over maid’s execution

published on January 11, 2013

Colombo: Sri Lanka has recalled its envoy to Saudi Arabia to protest the execution of a young maid from the country even as the media here lamented the government’s failure to prevent Riyadh from going ahead with the action.

Sri Lanka recalled its ambassador, Ahamed Javad, with immediate effect yesterday in the aftermath of the execution of a Sri Lankan maid despite an appeal by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

“This (recalling the envoy) was to show our displeasure regarding the execution of Rizana Nafeek despite repeated appeals from the highest levels of government,” External Affairs Ministry Secretary Karunarathne Amunugama was quoted s saying by Daily Mirror newspaper. The Lankaan mission in Riyadh, however, would continue to operate.

The Sri Lankan media conveyed the growing public anger over the execution of the housemaid with some criticising the government’s failure to get clemency for her.

Nafeek, 17 at the time she left for employment in Saudi Arabia in 2005 was beheaded following a trial where she was charged with the murder of a 4-month old infant in her care.

The state-owned Daily News in its editorial captioned ‘Poor Rizana nobody could help her’ said “its heinous considering that under any circumstances a juvenile who barely knew what she was doing, was executed in this brutal fashion after being kept in a Saudi prison for nearly six years”.

Daily Mirror editorial opined “Rizana’s death is not about a poor family being rendered poorer by the heart breaking execution; it also exposes Sri Lanka’s diplomatic and monetary poverty as a nation”.

Pointing to diplomatic and official bungling on the issue, the paper said: “It is not only justice that has failed Rizana, perhaps in a greater degree, her own country too. Sorry is not the word”.

‘Ceylon Today’ editorial backed an opposition legislator’s claim that money had been a decisive factor in Sri Lanka’s failure to successfully appeal to the Saudis on behalf of Rizana.
“The reality is that for Sri Lanka, for all its boasts of becoming the ‘Wonder of Asia’, sending women to foreign countries as housemaids is still the biggest foreign exchange earner for the country,” it said.

The Sinhala language dailies were more hard hitting in reflecting public anguish over the execution.

While ‘Divayina’ urged the immediate recalling of the failed Sri Lankan diplomats based in Riyadh, another Sinhalese daily ‘Mawbima’ said Sri Lanka had failed to win economic independence so that its daughters are not required to proceed for slavery overseas.

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