Comment: Human Rights Day 2012 marks exclusion and imposition of government by force

As we look back on this week’s celebration of Human Rights Day 2012, it is important to recall what, beyond the pageantry and back-slapping, this day really stands for.

During the 30-year long dictatorship of President Gayoom, those of us who longed for a fair, just and democratic Maldives would mark Human Rights Day by wearing secretly-printed t-shirts to mark the occasion – printed in stealth, worn in stealth. We took this risk (open advocacy of human rights and political reform was liable to end with a jail-term) because Human Rights Day was, we believed, important – a moment to remember that the outside world stood steadfastly behind our hopes for a better future.

It is therefore difficult, in 2012, not to feel a sense of disappointment – even shame – at what Human Rights Day has become, at least for Maldivians.

Human Rights Day 2012 goes under the banner of “inclusion and the right to participate in public life”.

Over recent days we have heard the UN Resident Coordinator encourage people to play an active role in public life and to hold public servants accountable (no word, however, about securing accountability for the systematic human rights violations that have occurred since February). We have heard the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives warn us that enjoying human rights should not be taken as an excuse to break the law (an unusual message for a national human rights institution to focus on – but not entirely a surprise). We have heard the Commonwealth Secretary-General remind the government (more in hope than expectation) that those responsible for gross human rights violations following February’s coup – mainly police officers guilty of beatings and torture – must be held accountable.

And yet, these platitudes come against a background wherein, in 2012, the majority of Maldivians who voted in 2008/9 have been disenfranchised; wherein those of us who want a new election in order to reassert our fundamental right to choose our government are being routinely beaten, arrested and tortured, wherein members of parliament who have sought to protest against the death of our democracy are being hounded, threatened and chastised as infidels; wherein the presidential candidate of the Maldives’ largest party is being manoeuvred into prison by the ancient regime; wherein the man who stands accused of torturing many over his 30 years of dictatorship announces he is likely to be a presidential candidate, again, and wherein our corrupt and immoral judiciary is openly attacking parliamentary prerogative and the constitutional separation of powers in order to protect those guilty of sexual harassment, and to protect the government from democratic scrutiny.

How is it possible that the UN, the HRCM, and our friends in the international community can let this year’s Human Rights Day pass without any mention of the dismantling of our democratic rights; without any suggestion that in 2012 we have lost, for the foreseeable future, our right to participate in public life and to determine, freely, our government; and without any meaningful call for those who have had their rights violated in 2012 to receive justice and redress?

For those of us who weep for the lost promise of our young democracy; for those of us who flinch at every new injustice heaped upon us; for those of us who wish our former friends in the international community would stand-up for the rights and principles that they purport to uphold; Human Rights Day 2012 will be remembered as nothing more than an empty shell.

Not even worthy of a hidden t-shirt.

Eva Abdulla is an MP in the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

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12 thoughts on “Comment: Human Rights Day 2012 marks exclusion and imposition of government by force”

  1. Human rights are all well and good and desired by all Maldivians.

    But no Maldivian would want their cultural and religious rights encroached in the pretext of Human Rights.

    Regular partying, drinking sessions, talk of freedom religion are human rights but when that contradicts Maldives way of life, such rights are a nuisance.

    Get it?

  2. It's such a terrible feeling to realise that our votes meant nothing...

    What about Cultural rights - contradicts the "Maldives way of life"?

    The people posing a "threat" to our culture are not the people advocating for freedom of religion, its the people replacing our traditions with those of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and whatever else is in fashion in order to maintain the façade of being a "real Muslim". The people advocating for minority rights just want to freedom to exist in the nation of their forefathers; besides they are not the ones trying to dictate the way everyone else should live with fear - rather they appear to be the few that abide by "live and let live". Our culture is the libaas and feyli, not the hijab and rolled up trousers. Our culture is men and women, dancing together to boduberu, not segregated lectures where spirituality is not taught by love, but by fear and intimidation.

  3. Human has the right only if and when it take up the appropriate weapon to be used at will if and when called for!
    Otherwise it has no right.

    Just look at the CoNI report, that most organizations in the world, UN, Commonwealth and many others accepted!
    Countries like US and India, who come out with tons and tons of crap about being DEMOCRACIES and DEMOCRATIC did shamelessly accepted it being what made up, done up and smudged report that it was!

    All these organizations and countries saw this happening. They saw the out come. They know who were the guilty and who were the oppressed!

    And yet they come out with these hypocritical reports and statements just to do justice to the fat salaries the chairs, co-chairs and the blah blah they earn probably even before the end of the month!

    Would you, for a minute, believe that on the 6th, 7th and 8th of February this year that a people's rights was lost? And did it get ANY justice?

    " Human Rights Day 2012 goes under the banner of “inclusion and the right to participate in public life”. "

    We know what our rights are!
    And we know without people, there can be no life as to the public life they are calling for!
    No body needs to remind us that participation in life can be there when people are there!!!!h

    Things like this, by these organizations is total rubbish!
    These are said only to justify their hypocrisy!

    What we want is our rights! And these organizations with chairs and co-chairs doing what already is told

  4. No need to talk about human rights when Nasheed's cousin Eva doesn't give a crap about the people of Galolhu which she is supposed to represent. Only you care about MDP. so where the human rights? where public inclusion? I wish there was a system where the representatives of people would not involve party this much and care about the people for a change. Due to party politics the people of that particular constituency is ignored...

    Talk about hypocrisy. I can't wait for the day when democracy finally is totally crushed and people truly rule with justice.

  5. @haani

    Maldives culture is neither 'libaas felyli and all night dancing' as MDP claim OR 'afghan style dress and beads' as Adaalath claim.

    Both MDP and Adaalath are polarizing the Maldives. MDP wants everything permitted in the name of Human rights and Adalath wants everything stopped in the name of Islam.

    In truth MDP is very SIMILAR to Adaalath. Why?

    None of these parties wants individual choice. Only their dogma is right.

    MDP and Adaalath, in a sense are ideal partners.

  6. "No Maldivian wants ... religious rights encroached" ...
    You must be kidding ? Religious RIGHTS ?
    a) never heard of any 'religious right' in Maldives. In contrary, when a person declared himself non-Sunni, he was almst lynched by the mob (of "religious" people ?) - despite a Muslim scholar trying to calm down, AND agreeing the person had the RIGHT to say what he said
    b( the attempted murder on journalist/activist Hilaath. In name of religious rights ? Throat slashed 'with regards from the sheikhs'.
    c) Dr. A, MP, (too moderate) scholar, murdered : police protection 'withdrawn', summoned by Minister Islam Affairs, forced to apology. HE was the one who defended RIGHTS, like shaving your beard. Eliminated.
    d) from pre-school onward, we are told that we do not have any right to be different. It is compulsory to be Muslim, Sunni in particular. The only rights we have is to chose between shut up or being beating up.
    Rights ? Joke in Maldives, whatever rights.

  7. Does Maldivian Have right to live in there contry. if they don't listen certain people life is in danger the weth is danger your home is dangerthe whole family is in danger the elected President is danger The city council is in danger Parliament is danger Maldivian democratic Party is in danger since its berth all the supports in danger do we have a wight to live

  8. People who want cling to Dark Age would not know what human right is. Here you have a culture to dictate on the personal affairs of individuals. The State holds right to exercise free hand on people conscience it is state verses human rights where majority hold rights to violate human rights in the name of god. Here irrational Mullas are above human rationality who are representatives of all knowing , all wise. The all knowing who only claims to be all knowing of things that a common men can see on daily basis. Here the good is judged with what you believe rather than your action. You have no rights once you have freed yourself from mental prison.

  9. the real debate:

    Do we want a Maldives that is ' Taliban' style extremism or 'Ganja Style? permissiveness.

    I say no to both. Keep the Maldives as it has been for 1000 years.

  10. What about the Human Rights of late Dr. Afrasheem who was allegedly brutally assassinated by MDP top brass?

    Until MDP can clear its name from the guilt of this horrific murder, I suggest that they do not talk about Human Rights.

  11. The MDP and Eva in particular have failed in the eyes of the Maldivian public.

    Their plummeting popular support is evidence of this (the Election's Commission's failure to provide an effective means for political party registers to be updated leaves unrealistic numbers posted on their website).

    Since her election, Eva, just like most other MPs elected from Male' have never once made a visit to the households in her constituency. Eva has never advocated for the interests of the people who elected her. She has callously ignored the electorate and dedicated her entire time to protecting and promoting the rule of her cousin, the former President Mohamed Nasheed.

    All these pretty words strung together are meaningless for us the Maldivian people. Eva appears to be just another member of the Maldivian aristocracy moaning about days gone by when they enjoyed unchecked power.

    The questions she has pretended to ask were asked by many of us during her cousin's rule. Where was the international community when the people a protest in Kulhudhuffushi was ruthlessly put down by police under the orders of Nasheed's Home Minister? This incident was recorded on the MDP-financed Maldivian Democratic Network's own website itself. Where Amnesty when other protests were tear-gassed and several were "escorted" to prison in order to protect the image of Eva's hapless cousin. Where were our international partners when Eva along with her friends, held a violent protest in front of the Supreme Court building when the court was holding hearings into the effect of a judgment debt owed by MDP MP Mohamed Musthafa.

    We need focus on our institutions not engineered protests led by political leaders. We need help to develop our weak infrastructure. We need our economy to regain strength and start moving in the right direction.

    People like Eva who live in the lap of luxury can spend their time obsessing about abstract concepts they manipulate to justify their own lust for power.

  12. @tsk tsk

    "The MDP and Eva in particular have failed in the eyes of the Maldivian public."

    You're a sad man, having to lie like that.

    I bet you're the sort that blames a 10 year old for getting raped.

    Your gang knew that it had no chance in the elections, and forced a violent coup.

    Your cadres have been sucking the blood of the average Maldivian, and for your kind, it is anathema to see anyone outside your cartel enjoy the simple pleasures of life.

    Here is the final answer; your kind has declared war against the whole of the Maldivian people by denying them the rights guaranteed in the constitution - Look forward to your punishment due.


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