Supporters of an Indian Christian nurse on death row in Yemen are trying to raise a ‘blood payment’ to save her life. 34-year-old Nimisha Priya was convicted of murder six years ago and sentenced to death under Islamic Sharia Law.
She had set up her own clinic and refused to leave the country when a civil war broke out and Houthi rebels took over much of the country, including the capital Sana’a where she worked. She wanted to stay because she had invested so much money in the business, which was starting to generate a good income. Her husband and daughter returned to their home in India’s Kerala state for the child’s safety.
The BBC reports Nimisha’s business partner who had been a close friend of both her and her husband, then also claimed to be her husband. He reportedly treated Nimisha like a slave. She was tortured, assaulted and robbed of the clinic’s earnings and her passport.
After he disappeared, Yemeni police found his remains and concluded he had died from an overdose of sedatives. Nimisha was arrested and charged with his murder and later sentenced to death.
Her legal options appear to have run out and her only hope under Sharia Law is for her family members to seek forgiveness from the victim’s family and pay them what’s known as ‘blood money.’ However, it’s unclear exactly how much money the family would consider ‘acceptable’ and how a relative would actually get into Yemen to ask for forgiveness. India has banned its citizens from visiting Yemen and the war has made it extremely difficult to get to the capital.
A support group called the Save Nimisha Priya International Action Council has raised around A$200,000 and arranged for Nimisha’s 57-year-old mother and her now 11-year-old daughter Mishal to travel to Sana’a, accompanied by two council members.
But Indian authorities have refused to let them go because it no longer has a diplomatic presence in Sana’a and because of the safety threat posed by the Houthi rebels. And there is no guarantee that Nimisha will be released even if the money is handed over. Christians around the world are being urged to pray for a miracle.