Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Free Roxanne Hillier! (See Update)

Roxanne Hillier (22) and her family are "living through hell" according to her distraught father, Freddie Hillier.

You may remember that Roxanne is the young woman who was accused of having sex with her Emirati boss and then sentenced to a three month jail term even after medical tests showed that there was no sexual contact.

Roxanne was working as a dive instructor in Sharjah which is an emirate in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). News reports describe that she was sleeping alone in a room that was upstairs from the dive shop when police bashed down her locked door and placed her under arrest.

She was accused of being alone in a room with her boss and with having sex with him.

In the confusion that ensued Roxanne mistakingly signed a confession written in Arabic believing that her signature would end her ordeal.

She was wrong.

When she realized her mistake she retracted her confession but it was too late.

She was found guilty and sentenced anyway. Her boss was also found guilty and given a six month sentence.

Roxanne is a South African citizen and you would think that our government would be looking to secure her immediate release.

There is, afterall, more than enough reason to believe that she is being victimized unfairly.

Roxanne's case will be appealed this Sunday (June 14). I really hope that some sense prevails and the respective authorities act in the interests of justice and rescind the judgement, or at the very least, allow her to leave the UAE.

It would be very easy to criticize the draconian laws that regulate relationships between men and women in the UAE but that is not even the central issue here.

What is of paramount importance is the fact that there is no proof that Roxanne broke the law, even by the invasive standards imposed by the Sharjah authorities.

Let's hope that their appeals process recognizes what her hasty trial did not.


Picture and story credit.

UPDATE (Sunday June 14, 2009)

Roxanne Hillier's father, Freddie, left a message here this morning to let readers know that Roxanne's case has been "set out".

Freddie wrote:
"Roxanne's case has been once again set out out until the 21 June for judgment. Bail denied again."
I am disappointed to read about this delay as I am sure many of you are.

So Roxanne will have to wait for another week in harrowing uncertainty. The same is true for her loved ones.

At the very least there is one bright spot for Roxanne and that is the presence of her mother, Ina, in the UAE. The authorities are allowing Ina to visit Roxanne once a day over the previous bi-weekly arrangement.

The South African consul in the UAE has also visited Roxanne and I hope that this indicates that the UAE is being pressured to release her.

You can show your support for Roxanne by visiting a Facebook page dedicated to her plight. Her mother prints out support messages and Roxanne gets to read them.

So get to writing and show your support for Roxanne and human rights!



Erica said...

I extend my prayers and blessings to the Hillier family. I cannot begin to fathom the sadness that the family is feeling nor will I pretend to.

To the Hillier family:

Know within the depths of your heart that Roxanne’s strength generates from the love of her family and the many others who are fighting for her release. Through injustice, freedom prevails and it will strike with a mighty blow.

I hold faith in the many voices that are in support of Roxanne and that those voices will carry far beyond that of her captures.

The unjust will not prosper.

Freddie said...

Thank you so much for your article.

Ridwan said...

Erica thank you ever so kindly for your heartfelt comment.

**Freddie stay strong.


Freddie said...

Dear Erica and Ridwan,
Thank you both so much for your kind words and support. Ina (my wife) will be visiting Roxanne tomorrow for 15 minutes (visits allowed only on Mondays and Fridays). We always print all the messages on her facebook support wall and give them to Roxanne. Ina will print this page as well and makes sure that Roxanne gets to read it.
God bless you both.

Dade said...

I had heard about this ugly story. Religious repression at its worse. Thanks for keep the story "alive" my friend.

The South African government needs to get its sh*t together and start defending its citizens!

Ridwan said...

Freddie I hope that Ina's visit went well today (Friday).

Thanks you for keeping us in the loop. Roxanne has our support and we hope and pray for her immediate release.

Peace and blessings to you and your family.

**Dade my brother it is always a pleasure to read you here and at your thought provoking blog.

Thanks for your support and thank you for writing.


Freddie said...

Hi Ridwan,
Thanks for your support and the same to Dade and Erica. Yesterday's visit went very well thanks, Roxanne was in good spirits and laughing a bit too. One of her fellow diver friends from Abu Dhabi accompanied Ina to visit her.
The SA Consul (not the one who reported the false info in the press), went to visit Roxanne on Thursday and then phoned Ina and me, to let us know that he has seen her and that she is ok. He will be submitting a report to SA about the way the matter has been handled. Since his visit to the prison, Roxanne was told that Ina can visit her every day as her visa expires on 23 June. We are hoping and praying that Roxanne will be set free tomorrow and this nightmare will be over.

If you wish to visit Roxanne's support please go to the following link:

Kind regards,


Ridwan said...

Hello Freddie:

Thank you for the update on Roxanne. I am encouraged to read of the SA consul visits.

I have my fingers crossed for tomorrow.

Thanks also for the link.

Peace and blessings to you, Ina, and of course Roxanne.


Freddie said...

Roxanne's case has been once again set out out until the 21 June for judgment. Bail denied again.

Ridwan said...

Freddie I am disappointed and sorry to hear that the case has been set out.

It is so unreasonable to deny Roxanne bail. What kind of threat does she pose to the state?

I really hope that the SAfrican authorities step up their involvement and bring pressure in Roxanne's favour.

Stay focused and strong Freddie! Justice must and will be done.

Peace and blessings,

Freddie said...

Hi Ridwan,
I don't know what to think or say anymore. The nightmare seems to continue and each time the case goes to court, so the story starts all over again. The wait, the uncertainty, the hope, the fears, the prayers. Why? Why? Why? is all I can ask myself, for not understanding, the culture, the system, the way the justices system works, the everything.

Thank you once again for all your support throughout this terrible time.

Peace and blessings to you too my Brother.

Ridwan said...

Hello Freddie:

It is totally understandable to feel as you do.

This must be the hardest time of your life and this set back means you have to struggle on.

When this passes my brother, and it will, you will be closer to Roxanne and your family.

Your role as father is absolutely commendable. You are doing all you can and it shows.

Very few of us understand the nonsense that surrounds this case. It is destressing to say the very least and I was thinking that it is high time that our government, and others, warn their citizens about travelling to the UAE, Kuwait, etc

Of course, like you I wish someone very high up in government here will step in and just make Roxanne's imprisonment a diplomatic issue.

It may mean that if this continues beyond next Sunday the pressure from Roxanne's supporters will have to be directed at the Department of Foreign Affairs or International Relations as they now want to be known.

Until then, let us pray that you collective nightmare comes to an end and Roxanne can just get out of the UAE.

I will continue to support you and her plight so please feel free to write here or to my email:

Be strong brother!

Peace and blessings,

Erica said...

I've just joined the group on Facebook. I wish you peace and all of my blessings.

Freddie said...

Thanks All,

Reading the article in the Daily News today and seeing the response from the political consul in the UAE is disturbing, to say the least.

It read:
When contacted for comment, the South African political counsel in the UAE, Ishwar Mahadeo, said he was "not interested in providing media with further news about the case".

Not even I'm sorry I made a mistake and slandered an innocent young woman. All we get is he is "not interested in providing media with further news about the case".

Spokesperson for international relations and cooperation Nomfanelo Kota said that, while the Hillier family were welcome to provide the media with information, department officials had agreed to not comment further on the case.

Mahadeo and Kota did not want to specify why they would not speak to media.

What a cheek!!
I am anxious to see what our government is going to dom and if they are going to do anything.

Ridwan said...

Hello Freddie:

Mmmmmm .... wonder who is putting pressure on them to shut up.

I am disturbed by their attitudes. Roxanne is a citizen and their duty is to look after her rights.

As it stands now we are left wondering what South Africa's position is.