“What was the point then of saying that the mother had not reported it, if not to paint her an indifferent and uncaring lout?
“This of course was to set the stage for the follow-on narrative of: ‘why should the government care if the mother doesn’t’—and to deflect attention away from state’s disinterest in rescuing these children.”
The following Letter to the Editor on the state’s efforts to assist Mahmud and Ayyub Ferreira was submitted to Wired868 by attorney and former PP Minister Christlyn Moore:
It broke my heart to read the report ascribed to the (satirically named) Nightingale squad that Felicia—the mother of two children, Mahmud and Ayyub, stolen from her four years ago and taken to a war zone by their father—was ‘unenthusiastic’ at efforts made to get them back, and that she never reported them as stolen.
My heartbreak was not because I thought that this report was either true or false; but over the sheer irresponsibility of the statement.
Now this is an agency tasked to deal with, among other things, complex family dynamics. No doubt this is why the Children’s Authority is represented among their swollen and august ranks. Yet here they are smugly reporting to a literate public, that this woman did not want her children returned.
Whether true or false, was any thought given as to how this disclosure might affect Mahmud and Ayyub’s long-term relationship with their mother?
A careless statement—addressed as much to the children as to the rest of us—bearing the gravitas of the state, that your mother was ‘unenthusiastic’ at the prospect of your return from a refugee camp in a war zone. This is the sort of bullying that could lead to eternal self-doubt, truancy and suicide.
There is more than a whiff of sanctimoniousness and judgment in the revelation that ‘there was no record of her reporting that the children had been abducted by their father and taken to Syria—or even out of Trinidad and Tobago’.
This disclosure was surplus-age at best because the Nightingales say that this case was ‘one of the first matters that attracted the attention’ of their team. So report or not, they knew of the situation.
What was the point then of saying that the mother had not reported it, if not to paint her an indifferent and uncaring lout? This of course was to set the stage for the follow-on narrative of: ‘why should the government care if the mother doesn’t’—and to deflect attention away from state’s disinterest in rescuing these children.
Human Rights attorney Clive Smith, who was an integral part of the rescue mission summed up the government’s attitude to this matter in a scathing retort: ‘At Christmas, your Prime Minister bemoaned the fact that tiny Trinidad did not have the resources to carry out operations like this without help…’
Imagine, a whole country with all its diplomatic ties and financial resources had nothing to spare for two little boys, at the time of year that is all about giving and children. Pathetic.
It is also hard to reconcile the focus on Felicia, without any reference at all for the rights of the children as citizens. Whether she was interested in their return or not was never the point. The real issue was that two minors—citizens of our country—were in a war zone without parents or guardians, and required aid, comfort and urgent repatriation.
Thanks to attorney Smith, we now have a counter narrative of Felicia’s turmoil and stress over the separation from her children and her overwhelming joy at being reunited with them.
Mahmud and Ayyub themselves were witness to her elation and love. Hopefully that is all they will remember; and not that some idiot bureaucrat at a desk in Trinidad tried to erase their mother’s love for them.
Hopefully when they eventually read the drivel of the Nightingale squad, a group—that needed the insignia of a foreign bird and a foreign hero to name itself—they would be old enough to understand the fickleness of politicians and the uncaringness of state machinery.