Two Local Mothers Unite to Bring Their Kidnapped Children Home

Two Local  Mothers Unite to Bring Their Kidnapped Children Home

For Immediate Release –  Washington, DC – Return US Home

On Monday, April 23, 2012 at 12:30pm, Return US Home will march on the Tunisian Embassy in Washington, DC.  This rally will support two local mothers’ efforts to get their kidnapped children back home.

The “Rally for Justice and Human Rights: Bring Our Babies Home” is a call for Tunisian authorities to return American children, Eslam (5) and Zainab Chebbi (3), and Bakr Hizi(2) to their homes in the USA.  Zineb Nabaoui, Bakr’s mother, will be at the rally, but Mrs. Johnson-Chebbi is in Tunisia, fighting to bring her children home.

On November 11, 2011, Mrs. Johnson-Chebbi’s abusive ex-husband, Faical Chebbi, abducted their two small children, Eslam and Zainab, to his native Tunisia.  Despite pre-existing protective orders, including one not to remove either child from the United States; and a mutually signed legal separation agreement granting Johnson-Chebbi full legal and physical custody of the two children, Mr. Chebbi obtained passports for the children from the Tunisian embassy.

On March 6, 2012, Mrs. Nabaoui’s also abusive ex-husband, Adel Hizi – and a native Tunisian – kidnapped their son Bakr in the exact same manner.  Mr. Chebbi and Mr. Hizi had been known associates in the U.S. and their similar kidnappings illustrate a dangerous, growing trend.

“This is the fourth abduction from the US to Tunisia since August 2011 that I know of,” Mrs. Johnson-Chebbi said. “Faical gloated almost a month prior to Bakr’s abduction that someone else would commit this despicable act. If I’d known any more details, I would have done anything to stop it,” she said.

Return US Home says, “We are heartened by Representative Chris Smith (Rep-NJ)’s and the House Committee of Foreign Affairs’ proposed bill, HR 1940.”  “This bill encouraged me to see a light at the end of this tunnel,” added Johnson-Chebbi.  “The powers it gives the President in response to any country harboring abducted U.S. citizens are a left-behind parent’s dream!”

Because there are not yet any mutual conventions between the U.S. and Tunisia, Return US Home has developed a proposed agreement that, if supported, would aid the return of abducted American children.

Return US Home invites supporters to join the rally on Monday, April 23 at 12:30pm.

Further details on ways to support the efforts of Return US Home may be found at: www.returnushome.wordpress.com or www.facebook.com/returnushome

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Contact: Édeanna Johnson-Chebbi
Cell: 202-505-1532
Email: returnushome@gmail.com
www.returnushome.wordpress.com

Personal letter to Secretary Clinton

Dear Secretary Clinton,

I am disheartened that stronger diplomatic pressure has not been placed on the issue of the kidnapping of two U.S. citizens, Eslam and Zainab Chebbi.   After discovering that the U.S. and Tunisia have both signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child I have no comprehension as to why this has not been used as a means for negotiating the return of Eslam and Zainab.  The articles of this convention are such that they are the strongest means of clear mutual argument for the safe and speedy return of my babies!

I am asking that you recall that Eslam and Zainab have always been U.S. citizens and that their receiving Tunisian citizenship and passports were both crimes against United States law, the only law governing these babies.  When their father, Faical Chebbi, applied for and obtained Tunisian status for these children, he did so as a U.S. citizen bound by U.S. law, for two U.S. citizens whom he had no legal authority over, by virtue of his own decisions.  The Civil Court of Maryland in Prince George’s county issued a court order preventing either parent – Faical or I – from removing either child from the United States.  Virginia and U.S. warrants for the arrest of Faical have been issued based on the fact that he violated U.S. law by virtue of kidnapping Eslam and Zainab from the United States.

Tunisian family law is NOT the only means of advocating for the return of my babies.  This is indeed an incredible issue for the elected and appointed powers of the United States, and particularly the Department of State, to advocate for and demand remedy on this kidnapping.

The further I go to fight for the children’s return, the more I ask myself, where is my country in all of this? Where is the United States that is offering billions of dollars in aid to Tunisia in advocating for their compliance with international legal covenants set up to protect us from this very situation?  Where is the concern over two U.S. citizens who were literally kidnapped from this country by the aid of foreign laws applied at an embassy in the U.S.?

Secretary Clinton, I am asking for a personal response as to the efforts being made by the United States with Tunisian governmental authorities to obtain the return of my dear babies, Eslam and Zainab.

Sincerely,

Edeanna M. Chebbi

Delivered via http://contact-us.state.gov/app/ask (no email or other means of viable contact available)

Open Letter to the President of the Republic of Tunisia to Return Abducted Children Eslam and Zainab Chebbi

Open Letter to the President of the Republic of Tunisia to Return Abducted American Children Eslam and Zainab Chebbi

January 5, 2012

 Dear President Marzouki,

I write to request your full and immediate attention to the matter of the kidnapping of two U.S. citizens, Eslam Chebbi (5) and Zainab Chebbi (2).  By now you and your staff at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice are fully aware of this case.  On November 11, 2011, Faical Chebbi, the children’s father and a dual citizen of Tunisia and the United States of America, departed for Tunisia with Eslam and Zainab, declaring never to return them home.

For 2 years I lived in fear of the retaliation of an abusive ex-husband.  I followed the rule of justice in the United States to ensure the safety of both my children and myself.  Following a consensual agreement to the terms of divorce and custody, I was still threatened by Faical that he would take our children and live in Tunisia.  A country, he claims, cares not about me or the laws of the United States.  A sentiment echoed by the staff and consulate of your embassy here, in Washington, DC.

Were it not for the neglect and disrespect of the staff at your embassy in Washington, DC, my babies would be home today.  After months of calling your embassy to prevent this kidnapping, I only received curt and hurtful statements: “We are Tunisia, the laws of your land don’t matter here,” or “Your custody makes no difference to us, if their father is Tunisian, he has the only right to your children.”

A member of the embassy staff was provided and made photocopies of every legal document pertaining to the custody of Eslam and Zainab, including a court order that neither child shall be removed from the United States.  I was told they would be placed in Faical’s permanent file at the embassy.  Regardless, First Secretary, Yessine Salah, explains that Faical applied for and received Tunisian birth certificates for Eslam and Zainab, who were then awarded passports (documents I have requested a photocopy of, and have yet to be provided).  Using those passports Faical was able to abduct Eslam and Zainab from the United States to Tunisia.

President Marzouki, Faical came to the United States, chose a life in the United States, and had a family in the United States.  He even became a citizen of the United States.  In this country, we married and divorced.  In this country, Eslam and Zainab were born.  In our courts, I fought for and received a protective order against Faical that allowed me and my children to escape his abuse.  Faical neglected any opportunity to fight for his children in the United States.  He freely signed custody of Eslam and Zainab to me in January of 2011.  And after being ordered to pay child support in November of 2011, he fled to Tunisia with my babies.

When Faical applied for Tunisian documents, he had no legal or physical rights to Zainab or Eslam.  Every step that Faical made to leave the United States with Eslam and Zainab violated the laws of this country – including obtaining Tunisian passports.  He fled to Tunisia as a criminal.  And he should be made to stand up to the decision he made as well as the charges brought against him for the heinous act of international kidnapping.

I have fought for the protection of my children through courts in the United States.  And now, because the powers of diplomacy are afraid to protect us, I am reduced to fight for them again in your courts – in a state where I have no comprehension of the laws or the language.  I will not cease to utilize every means of diplomacy and law to fight for my children, but I ask: where is your allegiance to human rights and justice in this?

President Marzouki, where are the rights of my small babies, Eslam and Zainab?  Where are my rights as a mother?  Must a matter of international justice rest upon the family courts of Tunisia? Are my children and I so insignificant to you and your new democratic government that the laws and rights that protected us in the United States mean nothing?  Is Tunisia committed to welcoming home an international criminal and kidnapper?  Is this the message you wish to convey to your citizens and the world that is watching?

Tunisia has overcome nearly 24 years of oppression under the dictatorship of former President Ben Ali.  As the world rejoiced at the overthrow of that regime, so too did Eslam, Zainab and I.  President Marzouki, I celebrated your election, and look to you as an example of a leader committed to the principles and ideals of democracy and justice.  I applaud your life commitment to human rights and belief in peaceful justice.  I too share those same ideals.

I pray upon your conscience President Marzouki, to reflect genuinely on the plight of two small children who have been abducted from their mother and all that is known and beloved to them.  And equally on a mother who is utterly lost without her children.

Your reputation is one of commitment to international justice.  I pray that you will show the United States; more than 18,000 international supporters; Eslam, Zainab, and me; and the citizens of your country, that Tunisia is truly committed to the rights and dignities afforded in a democratic system.

In closing I ask that you:  Return Eslam and Zainab to me and their home in the United States, and require Faical to stand responsible for his decisions and face the charges brought against him for international kidnapping.

In solidarity,

Édeanna M. Chebbi

Virginia Mother Continues Fight for Return of Kidnapped Children

Virginia Mother Continues Fight for Return of Kidnapped Children

For Immediate Release –  Washington, DC – Return US Home

On Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 1pm, Return US Home will host a second rally at the Embassy of Tunisia in Washington, DC to support the ongoing efforts of a local Virginia woman seeking the return of her two kidnapped children.

The event, Rally for Justice: Voices United for the Return of Eslam and Zainab, is a call for Tunisian authorities to return her American children, Eslam Chebbi (5) and Zainab Chebbi (2), to their home in the USA. Édeanna Johnson-Chebbi, the children’s mother, will make a public statement at the rally regarding the situation.

On November 11, 2011, Mrs. Johnson-Chebbi’s abusive ex-husband, Faical Chebbi, abducted their two small children, Eslam (5) and Zainab (2), to his country of origin, Tunisia.  A few months prior to the abduction, Mrs. Chebbi met with a Tunisian embassy official who assured her that her then-estranged husband would not be able to obtain passports for their children without her permission, as it would violate U.S. law.

A file was created at the embassy in Mr. Chebbi’s name containing copies of former protective orders, an order to not remove either child from the United States, and a mutually consented to legal separation agreement granting her full legal and physical custody of their two children. Despite the embassy’s assurances, Mr. Chebbi was provided with Tunisian birth certificates and passports for both children.

In response to the situation Mrs. Johnson-Chebbi is hopeful that legal authorities in Tunisia will right the wrong that the embassy enabled.  She states, “the old regime of former President Ben Ali has come to an end.  While the embassy is slow to recover, I have faith that the new Tunisian system will not tolerate criminals reliant on a former corrupt regime to protect them.”

Mr. Chebbi is now holding Eslam and Zainab in Tunis, Tunisia at the home of Abdallah and Mbarka Chebbi.  He claims he intends to raise the children there, and will not return the children to the United States.

Because Tunisia is not a signatory to any international agreements they are not required to comply with U.S. laws.  Additionally, the laws in Tunisia dictate that regardless of custody rights, children are not allowed to leave the country without their father’s consent.  Mrs. Johnson-Chebbi invites supporters to join the rally on Thursday, January 5 at 1pm.  For those who cannot attend, she asks that you contact your senators and representatives on her behalf.

Further details on ways to support the efforts of Return US Home may be found at: www.returnushome.wordpress.com.

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Contact: Édeanna Johnson Chebbi
Cell: 202-505-1532
Email: returnushome@gmail.com
www.returnushome.wordpress.com


Who we are, and why we’re here…

Meet Edeanna, Zainab and Eslam Chebbi.  On November 11, 2011, Faical Chebbi, Eslam and Zainab’s father and Edeanna’s ex-husband, kidnapped the children and took them to Tunisia.

This family abduction sparked the creation of Return US Home, an organization dedicated to the return of Eslam and Zainab to the United States.

Who they are:

Edeanna Johnson-Chebbi is a 30-year-old bi-racial woman.  Her father was a nurse in the U.S. Navy and is a Vietnam veteran.  He passed away in 1992.  Her mother remarried and both parents reside in Maryland.  Edeanna grew up in MD and is an alum of both American University in Washington, DC (BA) and St. John’s University in Rome, Italy (MA).

Eslam and Zainab Chebbi were both born in the State of Maryland.  The family resided together in Maryland until February 2010, when Edeanna obtained a protective order and was able to remove herself and the children from the family home.  She and her children have lived in Fairfax, VA since that time.

Faical Chebbi is a 39-year-old born in the country of Tunisia.  He grew up there and immigrated to the United States in 2001.  He became a naturalized U.S. citizen through marriage.  While in the U.S. Faical ran a successful limousine service, Airport Access Limo, LLC.  Additionally, he owned E.Z. Towing, LLC.  Prior to fleeing the U.S., Airport Access Limo, LLC became Congressional Chauffeured Limo, LLC.   Faical now resides in Tunis, Tunisia, with his parents and abducted children, Eslam and Zainab.  He is now associated with Westwind Limousine in Tunisia.

What happened?

According to Edeanna, after she fully converted to Islam in 2009, Faical began to take offense to her attempts to establish a Muslim home.  Though a born Muslim, Faical was never strict about his faith.  Following the birth of Zainab in 2009 Edeanna discovered inappropriate text messages and provocative chats indicating relationships with other women.  The marriage unwound from there.  Edeanna says, “the more I grew in my faith, and the more I learned of his infidelity, the less I allowed myself to give in to his attempts to put me down.  As he lost control of me, he lost control of himself.”

She says the final months of 2009 were scary.  “We tried counseling, we tried to re-connect, but he turned into Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde.  One minute he was nice, and the next minute he was screaming.  He was irritable with the children, and become more sinister as the days grew,” she says.  When Eslam began to call her stupid, Edeanna said she’d had enough.  Once she asked for a divorce, she says, Faical snapped.  “He would spend hours at night yelling at me, arguing with me, threatening my life and to take the kids if I left.”  The finality came when on Valentine’s Day 2010 Faical became violent.  “He called Eslam awful names.  He became angry, put a hole in the wall and threw a television into my daughter’s crib, breaking the frame.  Zainab was not in the crib at the time, but  Eslam and I were inches away.”

Following that event, Edeanna obtained a protective order, and she and the children left the family home.  Faical enjoyed unsupervised visitation on every other weekend, and time with the children on religious holidays.

In January of 2011, Edeanna and Faical signed a legal separation agreement, granting her full legal and physical custody of the children in exchange for maintaining visitation every other weekend, adding one weekday afternoon with the children, and no child support.

Following multiple threats of taking the children, Edeanna requested and was granted a meeting with a representative of the Tunisian embassy in June of 2011.  “I was so relieved when Ilyees, who works in passport control,  told me that the Tunisian embassy wouldn’t violate U.S. laws.  He made photocopies of every court order we had and assured me the children would not receive Tunisian passports without my permission.”  Following that meeting, Edeanna says she finally felt reassured and let her guard down.

On October 26, 2011, Faical and Edeanna came together before the magistrate of Maryland for a final hearing in their uncontested divorce.  At this time, Faical was ordered to pay child support.  “He left the courtroom angry.  He pleaded that he was poor and should just be put in jail if he was going to be asked to pay money he didn’t have,” says Edeanna.  “I knew he was going to retaliate, but I didn’t believe he could make it out of the country with the kids because of the embassy’s reassurances,” she says.  On November 11, 2011, Faical picked up the children for their routine weekend visitation.  It was later discovered that his friend, Sufyan, drove them directly to Dulles International airport.

Edeanna says, “the rest is known from there”.

[This report is based on the accounts of Edeanna Johnson-Chebbi and public records through the Maryland courts online]

American Mom Protests Tunisian Embassy Involvement in Her Children’s Kidnapping

American Mom Protests Tunisian Embassy Involvement in Her Children’s Kidnapping
For Immediate Release –  Washington, DC — Return US Home
On Monday, December 5, 2011 at 12 noon, protesters will rally at the Embassy of Tunisia in Washington, DC to support a local American mother, Édeanna Johnson Chebbi. The event was organized by Return US Home to call attention to the kidnap of Mrs. Chebbi’s children and the culpability of the embassy in the situation.
On November 11, 2011, Mrs. Chebbi’s abusive ex-husband, Faical Chebbi, abducted their two small children, Eslam (5) and Zainab (2.5), to his country of origin, Tunisia.  A few months prior to the abduction, Mrs. Chebbi met with a Tunisian embassy official who assured her that her then-estranged husband would not be able to obtain passports for their children without her permission, as it would violate U.S. law.  A file was created at the embassy in Mr. Chebbi’s name containing copies of former protective orders, and a legal separation agreement granting her full legal and physical custody of their two children.
Despite the embassy’s assurances, Mr. Chebbi was provided with passports for both children.  The mother claims that the embassy’s actions disregarded U.S. custody laws and allowed her ex-husband to kidnap the minors.
Mr. Chebbi now resides with Eslam and Zainab in Tunis, Tunisia at the home of Abdallah and Mbarka Chebbi.  He claims he intends to raise the children in his parents’ home in Tunis and will not return the children to the United States.
Because Tunisia is not a signatory to the Hague, or any such international agreements, they are not required to comply with U.S. laws.  Additionally, the laws in Tunisia dictate that regardless of custody rights, children are not allowed to leave the country without their father’s consent.
Mrs. Chebbi has been in communication with the Tunisian Ambassador, Mr. Salah Tekaya, and with the Tunisian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, most recently headed by Mr. Mohammed Mouldi Kefi.  She has made it clear to the Ambassador that she holds the embassy responsible for aiding and supporting the kidnapping of her children.
In a recent email correspondence, Mrs. Chebbi wrote: “There are many more who fear the same plight in their own domestic circumstances where abusive spouses threaten to use your embassy’s loose and unconcerned policies to allow them to break U.S. laws and illegally abduct children to Tunisia.  I believe you have a duty to respect and uphold the laws of the country in which your embassy resides.”
 In a meeting with the First Secretary, Yessine Salah, last week, Mrs. Chebbi was informed that embassy staff could not consider investigating every request for passports they receive, because it would simply take too much time.
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Contact: Édeanna Johnson Chebbi
Cell: 202-505-1532