United States Secretary of State Tillerson, bring my children home from Lebanon
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A Florida mother has the support from both of Florida's U.S. Senators to help return her children from parental kidnapping to war-torn Lebanon. Michelle Littleton’s three children, ages 6, 13, 14, were taken to Lebanon by their father on Jan. 4, 2017, over her strong objections, after a California judge ordered that he could travel with the children despite a “red flag” travel warning for Lebanon issued by the U.S. State Dept. “I pleaded with the court not to grant the travel request,” Littleton said. “I knew that he would keep the children in Lebanon, but my concerns were dismissed,” she said. The father, Mazen Fawzi Matar, has refused to return the children, despite a federal kidnapping charge and a demand to return order from the Orange Co. Superior Court. The family previously resided in California. Littleton subsequently moved to Florida to be near her family during this crisis. Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Bill Nelson both have urged U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard to coordinate with Lebanese Foreign Ministry for the immediate return of the children. Littleton has also met with officials from the Lebanese embassy in Washington DC. “Although this is an excruciating time that I would not wish on any parent, I’m grateful to know that my congressional representatives including Congressman Bill Posey are with me in this fight bring my sweet children home,” Littleton said. “They are not safe, and while I’m doing all I can to bring them home, my children need the whole support of our government too,” she added. On Oct. 16 of last year, the U.S. Consulate in Tripoli conducted a welfare check on Littleton’s son and two daughters, and the report indicated that the children’s grandfather suggested that the 13 and 14 year old was of the age to be married. “I’m horrified to think that my daughters could be married off as a child brides, instead of practicing ballet, spending time with friends and growing up safe at home. The fact that a grandfather had the audacity to even mention this in front of the ambassadors and judge is terrifying as a mother. My children do not speak Arabic and they do not know the truth.”
Littleton hired an attorney in Lebanon, and has won two court judgements in favor of the children’s concern. Notably, the December 26, 2017 ruling in Sharia law court also affirmed the mother’s full custody status and the children’s return to America will need to be won in the Lebanese Civil court proceedings coming up. Littleton's case is one of a growing number of cases of international parental childhood abduction (IPCA), in which one parent removes or retains U.S.-born children in a foreign country, often in violation of court orders and without the knowledge or consent of the left-behind parent. The State Dept. estimates that annually approximately 1,000 children are abducted or wrongfully retained from the United States. For more information on IPCA, contact iStand Parent Network Inc., 606-356-8371 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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