|By Fuat Kircaali||
|July 29, 2010 07:00 AM EDT||
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey
To the President of Syria, Mr. and Mrs. Bashar al-Assad
Mr. and Mrs. President Bashar al-Assad:
At the tender age of 17 months my severely ill daughter Sofia, an American citizen, was abducted by her mother on Monday, July 26, in Istanbul, Turkey, and taken to Syria.
Sofia has been diagnosed with a severe medical condition that requires immediate treatment in the United States. It was scheduled to start on July 27, 2010, in New Jersey, the day after her abduction and was supposed to last until she reaches the age of 3.
Any delay in the urgently needed treatment will result in a life-long disability for Sofia and make her dependent for the whole of her adult life.
The treatment is not available in Syria.
President Bashar al-Assad with his son and wife. (Courtesy of Flickr)
Mr. President, I grew up in Turkey listening to the evening news during our family dinners where I used to hear your father Hafez al-Assad's name more often than the names of my own family together with Menachem Begin, Golda Meir, Anwar Sadat, and Yasser Arafat.
I plead with you on behalf of my daughter Sofia to learn of her whereabouts and see her safely and speedily returned home. I also respectfully request a visa to Syria to meet her at the United States Embassy in Damascus to bring her home.
Mrs. President, parents around the world have only the Hague Convention to rely on in international child abduction cases. I urge your humanitarian consideration, as the mother of a precious child, to fight for Syria to be a part of the Hague Convention. I thank you in advance.
Sofia in Wildwood, New Jersey, during the 2010 Memorial Day weekend.
To the U.S. Consul General in Istanbul Sharon Anderholm Wiener
I attended your farewell dinner hosted by the American Business Forum last Thursday in Istanbul. Perhaps you will recall my brief speech during the reception when I spoke about my father's last wish to visit me in the United States three weeks before he passed away 15 years ago.
After a three-year tenure in Turkey you will be arriving in Washington on Saturday. Yesterday was your last day in the office in Istanbul. I attempted to reach you by phone several times. Your assistant Judy informed me each time that you would not take calls in such cases. It is a shame! Speaking the local language fluently, although impressive, is not the entire scope of your responsibilities. I was in Istanbul through July 26 waiting to learn the status of my medical emergency visa application that was submitted on July 7 to your consulate with no luck.
The lack of response from your consulate led to the abduction of my daughter.
Your legacy in Istanbul is marked by the tragic 2008 suicide attack on our consulate in Istanbul that ended with six dead, including three police officers who were locked out of the building at your order during their gun battle. I'm praying and hoping the abduction of my daughter is not added to your legacy in Istanbul as the "Baby Sofia" case.
Sofia in Disney World, the day after her diagnosis, during a father-daughter trip, Summer of 2010.
To the Foreign Minister of Turkey, Ahmet Davutoglu
Since our college days, we, your classmates have been following your diplomatic career with pride and admiration. This weekend I watched your press conference with rapt attention after your three-way summit in Istanbul with the foreign ministers of Brazil and Iran that made headlines around the world Sunday. You will be remembered as one of the international leaders of foreign policy of our time. Keep up the good work of peace in the region and the world!
Considering your historic peace treaties and collaboration projects with Turkey's neighbors - Greece, Armenia, Iran, Iraq, and Syria - and given what I am facing today, I wonder if your decision to lift the visa requirements previously imposed on Syrian citizens contributed to the abduction of my baby. On behalf of thousands of parents in my situation, I ask you to bring up the subject of the Hague Convention with your counterpart, the Syrian Foreign Minister Mr. Walid Muallem, whom you meet with often.
Sofia with Uncle Murat at home in New Jersey in April, 2010. (Murat Mercan is the Chairman of Foreign Relations Committee - Grand National Assembly of Turkey)
To Readers of My Blog
For the past eight months I have kept silent on a very heartbreaking private matter concerning my baby daughter Sofia but I have decided to share it with you today because it has escalated into a life-threatening situation. I shall keep her picture on my Twitter page until she comes home to the United States. I have set up an emergency email sofia (at) kircaali.com that I am using with the State Department and other communications.
Thank you all for your support and your prayers and wishes for Sofia's immediate safe return home.
Twitter updates on Sofia @FuatKircaali
Sofia with Uncle Atilla, her last photograph taken in Istanbul, on July 21, 2010, before her abduction to Syria.
Mr. Barack Obama, The President of the United States
Mrs. Hilary Clinton, Secretary of State
Mrs. Sharon Anderholm Wiener, Outgoing Consul General to Istanbul, Turkey
Mr. Charles F. (Chuck) Hunter, Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy in Damascus
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