Efforts to put Maldives on CMAG agenda unsuccessful, says foreign ministry

The Maldives is not on the agenda of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) despite “efforts made by some of the most powerful countries in the Commonwealth to place the Maldives on the group’s agenda and harm the nation,” the foreign ministry has said.

Some Commonwealth members have been pushing for the Commonwealth’s human rights and democracy arm to assess alleged violations of the organisation’s principles by the Maldives following the imprisonment of opposition politicians, including former President Mohamed Nasheed.

“Minister of Foreign Affairs Ms Dunya Maumoon gave a briefing to the CMAG Ministers today about the political situation in the Maldives and reiterated that there is no serious or persistent violation of Commonwealth political values in the Maldives,” the foreign ministry said in a statement yesterday.

It added that Dunya also stressed “the progress that the government has achieved in defusing political tensions in the country” and assured the Maldives’ commitment to “constructively engage with the Commonwealth”.

Signs of an end to a six-month long political crisis are emerging. Nasheed was transferred to house arrest in late June after the opposition backed a constitutional amendment to allow President Abdulla Yameen to replace his deputy.

At a second meeting between representatives of the government and the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party last night, home minister Umar Naseer said the government is open to exploring avenues to release jailed politicians and withdraw charges against opposition supporters.

Foreign minister Dunya said last week that  the Maldives “will seriously consider its membership in the Commonwealth” if the country is placed on the CMAG agenda for a second time.

Meanwhile, former foreign minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed has said that the CMAG only granted the Maldives further time to “sort out [the] mess Maldives is in.”

The UN special rapporteur on Iran also said that the group will convene again after the UN working group on arbitrary detention declares Nasheed’s imprisonment unlawful.

The opposition leader was found guilty of terrorism in March over the military’s detention of a judge during his tenure. The 19-day terrorism trial was criticised by foreign governments, the UN, and international human rights organisations over its apparent lack of due process.

The former president’s international legal team filed a petition at the UN working group in late April. The government has been asked to respond before the first week of July.

In a conversation last week with Commonwealth’s secretary general Kamalesh Sharma, Dunya said there are no serious violations in the Maldives and criticised Sharma’s alleged failure to follow due process before considering action.

The MDP meanwhile called on the Maldivian government to “stop being so arrogant.”

“Having to leave the Commonwealth for not abiding by its principles only isolate the Maldives from the rest of the world. And it will not be very healthy for the Maldives, but detrimental,” said MP Imthiyaz Fahmy.

CMAG agenda

The Maldives was placed on the CMAG agenda from March 2012 – March 2013 after President Nasheed resigned in the wake of a violent police and military mutiny. He later alleged he had been ousted in a coup d’état.

But a Commonwealth-backed inquiry found the transfer of power to be constitutional.

The Maldives was previously placed on the CMAG’s agenda “on an unfair basis, based on false allegations, and the country’s economy and democratic governance suffered significantly as a result,” Dunya said.

She also said Sharma had not raised questions over violations in the Maldives, or extended assistance for redress as required by the Commonwealth’s rules.

In mid-June Canada called on CMAG to “urgently put the deteriorating situation in the Maldives on its formal agenda.”

Dunya urged Sharma to take note of the positive changes in the Maldives in the last few weeks. She also accused Canada of exerting undue influence in the Commonwealth as a donor country.

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MDP agrees to begin talks without Nasheed

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has decided to begin talks with the government without former President Mohamed Nasheed as a representative.

The government had rejected Nasheed as the MDP’s representative on the grounds that the opposition leader is serving a 13-year jail sentence. He was transferred to house arrest this week.

MDP spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy told the press today that the party’s national executive committee decided to proceed with the talks last night with the expectation that Nasheed will be allowed to participate at a later stage.

“The decision was made after discussions with Nasheed as well. He did not want to be a barrier to discussions between the party and the government,” said Fahmy.

Parliamentary group leader Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Solih will be the sole MDP representative at talks.

Fahmy said the MDP’s main demand is the withdrawal of charges against opposition politicians and supporters arrested from protests.

Some 400 people have been arrested since Nasheed’s arrest in February and many face criminal prosecution, he said.

Fahmy said the charges against opposition protesters was a major concern for the party.

The opposition MPs’ backing of a constitutional amendment to set an age limit of 30 to 65 years for the presidency and vice presidency yesterday was widely perceived to be part of a deal made in exchange for Nasheed’s transfer to house arrest for two months.

Fahmy said at today’s press conference that despite “misgivings,” the MDP parliamentary group had voted in favour of the amendment as a confidence building measure ahead of the talks with the government.

“We believe compromise is a very important part in a democracy,” he said.

President Yameen had called for separate talks with the three allied opposition parties last month to resolve the ongoing political crisis, two weeks after a historic anti-government demonstration on May 1.

The MDP had proposed Solih, Nasheed, and chairperson Ali Waheed as the party’s representatives. Waheed is currently overseas in the UK along with Jumhooree Party (JP) deputy leader Ameen Ibrahim and council member Sobah Rasheed.

The JP leaders have been charged with terrorism over the May Day mass protest. The pair, along with Adhaalath Party president Sheikh Imran Abdulla, are accused of inciting violence in their speeches during the rally.

Meanwhile, Nasheed’s lawyer Hassan Latheef said today that the former president believes he will able to contest in the 2018 presidential election.

Latheef also said that he expected a positive development in Nasheed’s case at the UN working group on arbitrary detention in September. Nasheed’s legal team had filed a petition urging the working group to declare his detention unlawful and arbitrary.

Opposition politicians are describing Nasheed’s transfer to house arrest this week and the vote for the constitutional amendment as a first step towards political reconciliation between Yameen’s government and the opposition.

The ruling coalition is seeking to replace vice president Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed with 33-year-old tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb.

Before yesterday’s vote, pro-government MPs had publicly accused Jameel of disloyalty and incompetence. A Progressive Party of Maldives MP called on Jameel last night to resign or face impeachment.

Opposition politicians and some media outlets have meanwhile claimed that President Abdulla Yameen is seeking a loyal deputy ahead of a life-threatening surgery. The government, however continues to deny rumors over the president’s health.

 

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No obstacle for Nasheed’s involvement in talks, says MDP

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) insists that there is no obstacle for former President Mohamed Nasheed to represent the main opposition party in official talks with the government.

The government had rejected Nasheed as the party’s representative on the grounds that the opposition leader is serving a 13-year jail sentence.

In a letter to President Abdulla Yameen, the MDP said that Nasheed was not sentenced to be “locked up in jail in isolation, unable to meet anyone.”

The government had facilitated meetings with meetings with Nasheed for representatives from the UN and the Commonwealth after his conviction in March, the party noted.

The MDP said that it is essential for all political parties, including the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), to sit down together for the talks.

President Yameen had called for separate talks with the three allied opposition parties – the MDP, the Jumhooree Party (JP) and the Adhaalath Party (AP) – to resolve the ongoing political crisis triggered by the arrest and imprisonment of Nasheed and ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim.

The JP promptly accepted the invitation for talks, but the religious conservative AP proposed its detained president, Sheikh Imran Abdulla, among the party’s representatives.

Imran was released from police custody yesterday and faces charges of encouraging violence during the May Day mass anti-government demonstration.

The May Day demonstration was the second mass protest staged by the opposition calling for Nasheed and Nazim’s immediate release.

The government has ruled out negotiations over the release of Nasheed and Nazim, insisting the president does not have the constitutional authority to release convicts before the appeal process is exhausted.

President Yameen sent official invitations for the talks two weeks after the May Day protest. The proposed agenda for talks focuses on three aspects: political reconciliation, strengthening the judiciary and legal system and political party participation in economic and social development.

“If there is no legal, medical, physical or administrative obstructions regarding the representatives proposed by the three parties, we will proceed with the talks,” president’s office spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali tweeted earlier this week.

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Police cleared of wrongdoing in manhandling ex-president

The police watchdog has determined that police officers used proportionate force and acted legally when they escorted former President Mohamed Nasheed to the criminal court on February 23.

Nasheed appeared for the first hearing of his terrorism trial with his arms in a makeshift sling. Police officers had manhandled and dragged the opposition leader inside the court building when he stopped to speak with journalists.

However, citing testimony from police officers and video footage obtained for its inquiry, the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) said “Nasheed stopped near the gate of the justice building and refused police orders to go into the building.”

Minivan News journalists saw Nasheed repeatedly asking the the police to let him walk into the court, but police officers dragged him in by force, ripping his shirt open in the process.

The PIC launched an inquiry after the former president submitted a complaint alleging police brutality.

Nasheed was subsequently sentenced to 13 years in prison over terrorism charges related to the detention of a judge during his tenure. Foreign governments, the UN, and international human rights organisations widely criticised the 19-day trial over its apparent lack of due process.

The PIC said in a press statement today that police officers acted in accordance with regulations and used “force necessary in the situation.”

The office of former President Nasheed has slammed the PIC’s statement, noting that the oversight body had not sought statements from Nasheed or journalists who witnessed the incident.

Nasheed’s office accused the commission of defending police for political reasons, calling on the watchdog to act independently and to conduct impartial investigations into complaints of police misconduct.

Meanwhile, Nasheed was brought to the Malé from Maafushi prison this afternoon for a doctor’s appointment at the Senahiya military hospital.

 

“He was brought for medical examination several days after doctors in Maafushi Health Centre recommended for him to be examined by medical specialists,” read a separate statement from Nasheed’s office.

Doctors at the health centre had recommended on May 7 that Nasheed should have an MRI and consult a dentist, but the authorities had denied requests from his family and lawyers to provide medical care, the statement added.

The former president’s office noted that “Senahiya is not a tertiary hospital and the authorities have not given any reason why he is being treated at a health clinic and not a well equipped hospital in the Maldives.”

Hundreds of supporters gathered near the Senehiya hospital this afternoon, hoping to catch a glimpse of the former president who has not been seen since he was sentenced to 13 years in jail on March 13.

Police arrested Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Eva Abdulla’s husband Ahmed Shahid (Saabe) near the hospital for allegedly disobeying orders. He was released by the court within hours.

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Home minister vows to keep ex president in jail

Home minister Umar Naseer has vowed to keep ex-president Mohamed Nasheed in prison despite growing calls for his release by the international community.

“We will not free Nasheed. This government will not free him. I repeat it,” Naseer said in an interview on pro-government private broadcaster Dhi-TV on Thursday.

Nasheed is serving a 13-year jail term on terrorism charges relating to the arrest of a judge during his tenure. Foreign governments, international bodies including the UN and Amnesty International have criticized the trial for lack of due process.

The EU parliament in April passed a resolution calling for Nasheed’s immediate release and have urged member states to warn tourists on Maldives’ human rights record on their travel websites.

However, Naseer said the government “will not back down an inch” even if the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) is backed by 50 foreign governments. He went on to describe the MDP as a “lie factory.”

“There is no way will we hand the country to MDP. We will not back down an inch even if they come with 50 countries behind them,” he said.

“The government is built upon a very strong foundation. There is no way we will budge.”

Naseer said the MDP had planned to torch several buildings during a mass antigovernment protest on May Day. Nearly 200 people, including opposition leaders, were arrested when violent clashes erupted between the police and protesters.

Approximately 20,000 people had taken to the streets on May 1 over Nasheed and ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim’s imprisonment.

Although the opposition has criticized the police for excessive force and brutality during the protest, Naseer congratulated the police force, saying they are the “most professional” force in the region.

He said the police had ten years of experience in controlling protests and condemned protesters for beating two police officers.

“MDP can only deceive others [the international community], not Maldivians,” he said.

The home minister once again denied allegations he had made of president Abdulla Yameen’s involvement in the brutal murder of MP Dr Afrasheem Ali in 2012.

Naseer had contested against Yameen during the Progressive Party of the Maldives’ (PPM) presidential primaries of 2013. When he lost, he held a public rally accusing Yameen of corruption, vote-rigging, illicit connections with criminal gangs, and said he saw a suspect in Afrasheem’s murder meeting with Yameen.

Naseer was expelled from the PPM when he refused to apologize for his remarks. He joined the Jumhooree Party (JP), and was given a cabinet portfolio after Yameen won the second round of polls with JP’s backing. The party left the ruling coalition in January.

“I said I saw a suspect in Afrasheem’s murder, after he was released, at the PPM office seeking a meeting with president Yameen. I did not say there is any connection between president Yameen and Afrasheem’s murder,” he said.

Naseer on Thursday said he had made the comments because of the “rivalry in the campaign,” and said the investigation does not suggest the president was involved in the murder at all.

In recent months, several defectors from the ruling coalition, including MP Ahmed Mahloof, have claimed president Yameen will know the truth behind Afrasheem’s murder.

In December 2012, then-police chief Abdulla Riyaz had said that Dr Afrasheem’s murder was politically motivated with a local gang offered MVR4 million (US$260,000) to carry it out.

The late moderate religious scholar and Progressive Party of Maldives MP was brutally stabbed to death on October 1, 2013 in a murder that shocked the nation.

Riyaz, now a JP MP, was summoned to the police last week when he said he would reveal details of Afrasheem’s murder “when the time comes” in an interview with a local TV station.

Hussain Humam, the chief suspect in the murder and the only person convicted of the crime so far, has alleged president Yameen and tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb’s involvement in the killing.

However, Adeeb accused the opposition of orchestrating Humam’s remarks in a “character assassination” attempt. Humam had said at the first hearing of his appeal at the High Court last month that president Yameen and Adeeb “will know best” the details of the murder.

Former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom meanwhile told reporters that president Yameen should sue opposition politicians alleging his involvement in the murder for defamation and strongly condemned the insinuations.

 

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Cameraman ‘forced’ to erase footage of PG meeting judge

A cameraman of the opposition aligned Raajje TV was forced to erase footage of a meeting between prosecutor general Muhthaz Muhsin and criminal court judge Abdul Bari Yousuf at a café, the broadcasting commission has found.

The PG allegedly met Bari at the Café Layaali in Malé on March 8 while the latter was presiding over former president Mohamed Nasheed’s terrorism trial.

The pair have denied the meeting took place, and Muhsin has previously said he would resign immediately if the allegations are proven to be true.

Following an inquiry, the commission determined on Monday that the Raajje TV journalists “faced reasons forcing them to delete the footage.”

“As the commission saw that this was a situation that obstructed press freedom, the members who participated in the meeting to conclude this case decided unanimously to appeal to all parties to ensure that broadcasters and the media as a whole do not face such compulsion in order to maintain an environment where journalists can fully exercise the right guaranteed by the constitution and laws without fear,” reads the summary statement of the report prepared the commission.

The commission also investigated a complaint alleging that Raajje TV disseminated false information as PG Muhsin denied meeting the judge. The commission decided that the station did not violate the broadcasting code of content as it had sought comment from both Muhsin and Bari.

The meeting took place days before a three-judge panel sentenced ex-president Nasheed to 13 years in prison on terrorism charges. Judge Bari also presided over ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim’s trial on weapons smuggling charges.

After Raajje TV reported the alleged meeting, the criminal court barred the station’s reporters from attending hearings. The court accused Raajje TV of “spreading lies about judges, meddling in judges personal affairs and engaging in actions that may harm judges.”

Muhsin meanwhile told Minivan News at the time that the judge was already at the café when he went there for a meal with family members.

However, Raajje TV insisted the pair were sitting at the same table and that Muhsin had walked away when the journalist started asking questions.

At the time, a Raajje TV staff told Minivan News that a group of young men led by Progressive Party of the Maldives MP Ahmed Assad forced the cameramen to delete the footage.

In 2013, the watchdog Judicial Service Commission suspended Judge Bari for over a year pending the outcome of a complaint lodged against him for alleged misconduct.

Although the commission did not reveal any details of the complaint, local media reported that a female attorney from the Prosecutor General’s Office had alleged that Bari had sexually assaulted her.

Bari was cleared of the allegations and resumed duty at Criminal Court on July 24, 2014.

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EU calls for political dialogue to resolve crisis

The European Union has called on political parties in the Maldives to engage in dialogue to resolve a deepening political crisis.

The EU delegation along with EU heads of mission and the ambassador of Norway in Sri Lanka called for dialogue after strongly condemning “the violence which occurred at the public demonstration held in Malé on 1 May 2015.”

Nearly 200 protesters were arrested from the anti-government mass rally following a police crackdown, including Adhaalath Party (AP) president Sheikh Imran Abdulla and main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) chairperson Ali Waheed.

The opposition ‘Maldivians against tyranny’ alliance had vowed to bring president Abdulla Yameen to the negotiating table through the mass rally.

Last week, Imran refused to negotiate with president Yameen’s envoy for the talks, tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb, calling the ruling party’s deputy leader “corrupt” and “a criminal.”

The EU meanwhile called on all sides to “exercise restraint and to refrain from any acts which could make the current political situation worse.”

“The EU delegation is especially disappointed because of the reassurances which the visiting EU [heads of mission] had received from all major Maldivian political parties and the government that every effort would be made to ensure that peace would prevail on 1 May,” reads a statement released yesterday.

The opposition May Day protest began peacefully with an estimated 20,000 supporters marching across the capital’s main thoroughfare Majeedhee Magu, calling for an end to the government’s “tyranny” and demanding the release of former president Mohamed Nasheed, ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim.

However, clashes erupted when protesters attempted to break through police barricades to perform sunset prayers at the Islamic centre. Protests are prohibited at the Republic square or the restricted ‘green zone’ in front of the mosque.

Police cracked down with tear gas, thunder flashes, stun grenades, and the indiscriminate use of pepper spray.

Later in the night, a Specialist Operations (SO) police officer left behind after a baton charge was tripped and severely beaten by protesters. He was sent to Sri Lanka for medical treatment along with another officer injured after a protest pickup charged through police lines at dusk.

The president’s office spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali declared after Sheikh Imran’s arrest that the government will no longer hold discussions with the Adhaalath Party leader.

The EU parliament meanwhile passed a resolution last week calling on member states to issue warnings on the Maldives’ human right records on their travel advice websites and demanding the release of ex-president Nasheed.

In a visit to Sri Lanka, US Secretary of State John Kerry echoed the calls and warned that democracy is under threat in the Maldives.

“We’ve seen even now how regrettably there are troubling signs that democracy is under threat in the Maldives where the former president Nasheed has been imprisoned without due process,” he said.

“This is an injustice that needs to be addressed soon.”

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Comment: May Day! May Day! May Day! Maldives

“When dictatorship is a fact, revolution becomes a right.” – Victor Hugo.

By many accounts, the atmosphere in Male’ is both festive and fearful right now. And so it would be. Today, supporters of democracy in the Maldives and those who want to prolong the increasingly autocratic regime of Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom are going head to head. Both sides are ready to give it their all, whatever happens, whatever it takes.

For democracy

There is little doubt that the country is heavily divided. On the side of democracy supporters are at least 48% of the electorate who voted for Mohamed Nasheed in the 2013 election stolen by Yameen Abdul Gayoom through the Supreme Court. Added to this are a majority of the 23% who in 2013 voted for Qasim Ibrahim, the tourism tycoon who helped fund Yameen’s win and is now being persecuted by him. Also among the democracy supporters are those aligned with the religious Adhaalath Party who voted either for Qasim Ibrahim or Yameen. One of their leading figures, Sheikh Imran Abdullah, so zealously effective against Nasheed in the 2013 presidential campaign, is also now campaigning against this government. All in all, Yameen–and the autocratic values that he represents–has the support of less than 25% of the electorate, if that. A conservative estimate would, therefore, put the percentage of the Maldivian electorate against the government at around 65%. A higher figure is likely to be more accurate.

A large share of these people will be out on the streets of the capital Male’ today for what is likely to be the biggest demonstration in the history of the country.

People have come on boatloads from across the 1200 island archipelago. ‘We have travelled on different ships, but we are now all on the same boat’, observed one such protester on social media. They will all be congregating in Male’ at 3:45 in the afternoon, under the hot tropical sun. They want to rise up against the government that has refused to listen to any of their multitude of woes and worries: murders that have not been solved; abductions that have not been investigated; corruption that has been encouraged; islands that have been sold to shady businesses; lagoons that have been signed away for centuries; atolls handed to foreign governments for unknown purposes; medical care that has been negligent; basic services that have been inadequate; streets that have become too dangerous to walk; children who have not been protected; living that has become too expensive to afford; freedoms that have been severely curtailed; promises that have been unfulfilled; and lives that have become too joyless and filled with fear to enjoy. They want a government that would listen; a government of the people, for the people. And they are ready, in their tens of thousands, to come out on the street and demand all this, all theirs by right.

Against democracy

‘I do not want to rule with force,’ President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has said. But short of using his own fists, he has done nothing but. All three powers of the State are entirely in his hand, though he continues to insist they are not. Some of the claims are laughable, such as his insistence that the judiciary is independent from his influence. The entire world has seen and said otherwise after the courts prosecuted and jailed opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed in the manner it did. With Yameen’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) holding an absolute majority, the parliament is his toy, too. As is the Prosecutor Generals’ Office, almost all independent commissions, and also the country’s armed forces.

With clear evidence of the partiality of these institutions laid bare on a daily basis, Yameen’s claims of not exercising undue influence makes him frequently look like Iraq’s Comical Ali: Maldives’ own Comical Abdulla.

The government has been preparing for the protest by banning civil servants from attending the rally, by firing pro-democracy staff in government-run institutions, and by producing and repeating the narrative that to protest is to destroy the country’s peace–as if there can be peace when a majority of the people are refusing to be ruled against their will. None of it is working. Desperate, it has wheeled out religious clerics to say it is against Islam to rise up against an elected leader. Sadly for the government, a majority of Maldivian clerics–having helped instigate the February 2012 coup which brought down the country’s first democratically elected–government, has little credibility left in this department.

In the meantime, Yameen’s right hand man, the financially rich but morally bankrupt Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb, has tried to heat things up further, challenging the protesters to ‘bring it on!’ He has said the government is ready to take on anyone that disagrees with it. There is fear, as well as compelling room for conviction, among democracy supporters that Adeeb–’bro’ to hundreds of gangsters–would not hesitate to bring the ‘boys’ out on the streets today. The plan would be, as has been executed many times before, to get his thugs to pretend they are part of the protest, and commit acts of violence in response to which the SO can unleash their own violence against the peaceful thousands marching for their rights.

The security forces

Police

The Maldives Police Service has become one of the country’s least respected institutions. With a Police Commissioner of little education and even less knowledge of policing at the helm–appointed solely for his loyalty to Yameen–the force has become even more disliked than it was after the 7 February which a group of them facilitated. Since Hussein Waheed became Commissioner, the police have been deployed to do a lot of Yameen’s dirty work–framing political opponents, freeing criminal allies, and brutalising democracy activists. Members of theSpecial Operations police (SO)–supposedly an ‘elite’ group–have become such lackeys of the president that they are even attending to the president’s superstitions, carrying out ‘top secret’ midnight operations to cut down trees that were supposedly cursed against the government.

The only people looking forward to the protests as much as, or even more, than the protesters themselves today are the police. From everything they have said and done since today’s protests were announced, they have been preparing for this day. In the last week there have been almost daily press briefings all of which have included threats, intimidation and announcements of new measures to curb the right to freedom of assembly. They have all but imposed visa requirements on people travelling to Male’ from other islands for the protests, demanding they have accommodation, food and other arrangements pre-booked before travelling. They have instigated stop and search operations targeted at boats en route to Male’; paraded troops with imitation guns, banned batons, and gas canisters to perform ‘training exercises’; and they have used ‘intelligence reports’ to arbitrarily arrest leading opposition activists. They have arbitrarily banned the media from certain areas; and banned protests ‘between two prayer times’ — as if there is any time that’s not between one of the five daily prayers. They have warned that caution must be exercised near mosques and schools – as if there is any area on the two square kilometres of Male’ that is not near a mosque or a school. They have said no sound systems can be used after 11:00p.m and that it must all end at sharp midnight. They have declared the protest, yet to begin, ‘not peaceful’. They have announced a strategy of zero tolerance. Any infringement of the growing list of illegally actions, at anytime during the protest, by anyone, and ‘we will crackdown’, they have said.

Strength in unity

Not everyone who supports democracy, wants to protest the unjust incarceration of Nasheed, and rise up against the current government, can join the march today. There are many valid reasons to hold people back–mothers who cannot leave their children; the unwell; people who believe they simply cannot risk their livelihoods; people who cannot be in Male’ for various reasons; and more. But, no matter how hard the government and the police would like to believe otherwise, fear is the last reason holding any democracy supporter back from the streets of Male’ today. Together, the people are stronger than any government, no matter how brutal.

This article was originally published on Dhivehisitee.com

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to editorial@minivannewsarchive.com

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Nasheed ‘an innocent man and the Maldives’ great hope': Amal Clooney

“It may be famous for the pristine holiday beaches of its Indian Ocean coastline but the Maldives has taken a dark authoritarian turn. In 2008, the island nation became a democracy after Mohamed Nasheed was sworn in as president after the country’s first-ever free and fair elections,” writes Amal Clooney in the Guardian.

“A charismatic leader, Nasheed introduced liberalising reforms at home, while calling for global action against climate change in an attempt to combat the rising sea levels that threaten to inundate the low-lying nation. His remarkable story is chronicled in the acclaimed documentary The Island President.

“Seven years later, however, Nasheed is in prison, having been sentenced to 13 years imprisonment for the crime of “terrorism” following a politically motivated show trial.

“As a young man, Nasheed made a name for himself as a dissident journalist who challenged the repressive regime of Maumoon Gayoom, the Maldives’ long-serving dictator. Over a 15-year period, Nasheed was arrested more than 20 times. He was twice named by Amnesty International a prisoner of conscience.”

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