Anti-government crowds disrupt Japanese tsunami ceremony

Anti-government crowds disrupted a ceremony marking the anniversary of the Japanese tsunami in Male’ on Sunday night.

The ceremony was held at Nasandhura Palace Hotel. A member of the Japanese embassy’s diplomatic staff said that 100 guests were expected, adding that it would have been more were it not for the current “security” concerns in the country.

The capital has seen nightly protests since the end of last year. This period of unrest has seen marches, police brutality, and a controversial change of President.

The ceremony began with the Maldivian and the Japanese national anthems followed by a minute’s silence, before the Japanese ambassador to the Maldives, Ambassador Nobuhito, gave a brief speech.

Nobuhito cited the reasons for the ceremony as being condolences for those lost, gratitude for the help received and to give reassurance of Japan’s recovery from the tsunami’s destruction. Following the tsunami, the Maldives donated 86,400 tins of tuna to Japan, which has been one of the country’s major aid partners.

Outside, hundreds of anti-government demonstrators gathered at the gates of the Nasandhura Palace Hotel.

President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s newly appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Abdul Samad Abdulla, spoke about how the 2004 tsunami had brought the people of the Maldives together.

“Gayoom removed some charges against detained opposition members to unite the country,” Dr Samad claimed.

Many in the room seemed distracted, turning their attention towards the raised voices that could now be heard outside.

Dr Samad rounded off his speech by suggesting that it was more than just adversity that united the Maldivian and Japanese nations, it was a mutual commitment to human rights, to the rule of law, and to democracy.

Outside, this commitment was being questioned. Riot police rounded on the crowd, visors down, shields at the ready. Some people in the crowd shouted “baaghee (traitor) Waheed”.

Refreshments were barely touched before an announcement was made that the reception was now ending.

Leaving the hotel and walking a little way down the road towards the crowd, Minivan News asked a passing soldier why the people were there. The soldier smiled and said simply, “They think the government is not the government.”

A young man on the other side of the police barricade grinned and said, with similar poignancy, “Nice Maldives, huh?”


Once the more prominent guests had safely left the area, the security forces began to recede back towards their headquarters.

Simultaneously, the MDP camp by the Tsunami monument was silent as former President Mohamed Nasheed fielded questions from the Women’s Wing, or ‘Women’s Spirit’ of the party.

The atmosphere here was one of stark contrast to the disorder and tension outside the Nasandhura Palace Hotel.

The scene at Raalhugandu resembled that of a traditional conference. Rows of seated women faced Nasheed, whose head table contained a panel of the MDPs prominent female members.

The discussions were observed by thousands of MDP loyalists who listened in near silence as the women’s concerns were aired.

MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said that the event was an attempt at a new “creative form of direct action.”

Japan is also providing 250 million yen (US$3million) as foreign aid to the Maldives government to purchase industrial products produced in the affected areas of Japan, to accelerate the economic progress of those areas.

The agreement was signed between the two countries today at the Maldives Foreign Ministry.

According to a statement released by the ministry, the purchased equipments will be utilised in the health, education sectors and at the Maldives Polytechnic and Male’ Health Corporation.


12 thoughts on “Anti-government crowds disrupt Japanese tsunami ceremony”

  1. We must hold presidential elections as according to our constitution.Not because MDP and Nasheed demand it. Nasheed resigned because he was blackmailed by some people. These people who blackmailed Nasheed have evidence that could be used against him.

  2. The headline for this news should instead be 'Terrorist Party MDP Thugs disrupt Japanese tsunami ceremony'.

  3. @writer: "The atmosphere here was one of stark contrast to the disorder and tension outside the Nasandhura Palace Hotel.

    The scene at Raalhugandu resembled that of a traditional conference. Rows of seated women faced Nasheed, whose head table contained a panel of the MDPs prominent female members."

    The difference is that government or other political parties don't interrupt MDP proceedings like the way they do to government and other political parties.

    Serious observers can see this. MDP also has supporters but their functions go smoothly because others don't use the same tactics as MDP against opponents.

    Maturity vs. Ignorance.

  4. This is disgusting. As a member of MDP I am ashamed of the party. This has got nothing to do with politics or the Government of Maldives.
    This is between two countries and MDP should be ashamed to do such a low thing.

  5. Waheed is not a lawfully elected president, so he should not be representing Maldives at occasions like this in the first place.

  6. Its a lesson to the illegitimate government not to organise such meetings with foreign dignitaries to show their arrogance......... The Japnese dont have to cooperate with illegitimate government of Republic of Maldives.... Waheed should step down and make way for early elections!! What a ignorant bastard.........

  7. I am not a supporter of current goverment. But I would say this was a very barberic act carried by violent MDP activists.

  8. Whats wrong with MDP people ? They seem to be protesting against each and every thing that happens in Maldives ? Protesting womens day, protesting when there's a public function, protesting when somebody farts, protesting on the sea (against the fishes ?), protesting against resorts.

    Pretty soon they'll probably be protesting their right to protest or even exist for that matter...

    What a democracy this Maldives has become !

  9. Waheeds election as president is lawful because in the eyes of law he resigned.What made liar Nasheed resign needs to be investigated and if proven a coup d'etat, liar Nasheed to be reinstated. And if Nasheed is proven wrong, he should be tried and punished.

  10. I have to agree with citizen and Radhun on this.
    This is getting ridiculous. Alright, MDP thinks that this is a coup d'etat. So what they should be doing is trying to prove this is one and not destroying the Maldives.
    The sooner they can prove this then the sooner Anni would be back as President.

    What is the purpose of destroying Maldives? Does Anni and the MDP wants power so much that they would destroy Maldives?
    It would also be much better if MDP would stop all this activities and get someone else other than Anni to run in the elections. This would show to the whole World and Maldives that he is not a power hungry demagogue.
    But now this is what seems to everyone else and including a lot of MDP members who want someone else to run for the Presidency and not Anni.

    Why is there a call for election?
    I can tell you why. Even MDP knows that Anni resigned on his own and they do not have any legal justifications, even with foreign observers involved to prove that this was a coup.
    That is the only reason they are going for an early election.

  11. @ Nisha: Have you even read the Constitution of Maldives? What do you know about the Law? How can you say that Mr. Waheed is not a lawfully elected President? He is merely fulfilling his duties as prescribed in the Constitution of Maldives. Please do not make blatant statements when you do not know what you are talking about!


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