Police are searching for the parents of a 5-year-old child taken from Southampton General hospital in the UK. The child whose parents are now confirmed to be Jehovah’s Witnesses “needs to be taken to a medical facility for his urgent health requirements as soon as he is located,” said DS Dick Pearson, of Hampshire’s major police investigation team.
He asked for help in locating the child from people on Facebook and Twitter. In a statement Hampshire police said:
“We are working with our counterparts in France to activate their emergency child rescue alert procedures to locate the family as soon as possible. If we do not locate Ashya today there are serious concerns for his life. He is receiving constant medical care within the UK due to recent surgery and ongoing medical issues.”
In a video made earlier in the month the child’s brother Naveed King said his little brother, Ashya, had been diagnosed with a brain tumour and was undergoing emergency surgery. Speaking into the camera in a message directly to Ashya, he said:
“I haven’t slept. I’ve been awake all night worrying. We love you so much. We’re all here for you. Everyone is praying for you. We just want to see your smile again.
“No kid at the age of five deserves to have a brain tumour. Let’s just hope the doctors know what they’re doing and they know exactly where to operate and what to take out, and they take everything out and you can be better.”
The police said without 24 hour medical treatment the child is at risk. The parents names are Brett and Naghemeh King and are travelling in a grey Hyundai I800 Style CRDI, registration KP60 HWK, and they are still believed to be in France.
The BBC is reporting that Brett King, 51, and Naghemeh King, 45, removed him from the ward on Thursday.
Speaking at a news conference, Assistant Chief Constable Chris Shead said “time was running out” for Ashya.
Appealing directly to the family, Mr. Shead said:
“Our message to you is “please take Ashya to the nearest hospital immediately.
“We understand this must be an awful time for you but the most important thing is to get the proper medical care for Ashya. Please work with us to provide Ashya that care.”
He refused to comment on the religious beliefs of the parents or their motive for taking him, but confirmed French police and other forces in Europe are involved in the search.
Brittany Ferries have now confirmed the family consisting of parents and seven children, aged from two to 23, boarded had travelled on its ferry and the company was assisting Hampshire police with its inquiries. The spokesman also confirmed the family had declared they were travelling with a child with “special medical needs” at the time of booking.
Further information from BBC News stated, “It is believed Ashya’s parents and six siblings boarded a cross-Channel ferry from Portsmouth to Cherbourg at 16:00 BST and arrived at 20:00.”
Police have said Ashya, who recently had surgery, is unable to communicate verbally and is immobile. He is likely to be in a wheelchair or buggy.
Cherbourg Police has confirmed it is searching locally for Ashya, checking hotels and CCTV.
Anyone with information about Ashya’s whereabouts should contact Hampshire Constabulary on 101, quoting Operation Aquilion.
It is unclear why the parents have taken this action. The police are obviously concerned. One former Jehovah’s Witness (now a member of an ex-jw support group) who is very familiar with Jehovah’s Witnesses beliefs said, “I’m all for freedom of adults to choose how they want to live their lives and what medical treatment they want or don’t want, but imposing your beliefs and choices onto children and endangering their lives is unacceptable.”
Another pointed out – who he believes really needs to comment and where responsibility for the actions of Jehovah’s Witnesses often lies – he said:
“A Governing Body member should be interviewed on TV news and tell the public that they certainly don’t encourage this sort of behaviour because of their Blood policy, and encourage the parents to return to the authorities and let the doctors and nurses help their child. But of course they won’t. They will distance themselves from this and put the problem solely at the feet of the parents. And yet it’s the Governing Body and their policies that often motivate people to take these kind of actions.”
Many of the news reports are detailing inaccuracies about Jehovah’s Witnesses both in terms of numbers and beliefs. This is a small cult with only about 8 million members worldwide and not 20 million as reported by the Daily Mail. The group uses high control techniques to recruit and retain the membership.
Update 30 August Daily Mail – Spanish Police wait at holiday home after arrest warrant for neglect is issued – Link
Update 30 August 2014 Channel 4 News – Link
Update 30 August 2014 BBC News Kings possibly in Spain – Link
Update 30 August 2014 Sky News Car sighted in Marbella, Spain – Link
Jehovah’s Witnesses and Blood Transfusions AJWRB.org – Link
Jehovah’s Witnesses and Blood Transfusions inconsistencies JWFacts.com – Link
JWsurvey Jehovah’s Witnesses (other cases and commentary) – Link
Guardian Major investigation as parents take child from hospital – Link
BBC News Sick boy taken from Southampton hospital – Link
Sky News Report Missing Ashya feeding tube runs out today – Link
Daily Mail Ashya King missing after parents snatch him from hospital – Link