Comment: Is peace merely the absence of violent conflict?

Hundreds of peals of islands, azure lagoons, and white sandy beaches scattered over 90,000 square kilometres in the middle of Indian Ocean, making up the Muslim nation the Maldives. This tropical archipelago is isolated from the rest of the world, attracting thousands of high-class honeymooners, holiday makers and celebrities.

The Maldives has been branded internationally as a luxury tourist destination by selling the three products gifted by nature: sun, sand and sea. The Maldives is reputed internationally for its peace, tranquillity and harmony, unlike the killings, attacks and explosions seen in some of the conflicted areas like Jammu, Kashmir and Afghanistan.

Maldives is formed of 1,190 islands, with a 100 percent Muslim population of 300,000. Around 200 islands are inhabited, and nearly 100 islands are developed as luxury tourist resorts.

Political instability

The concealed dark side of the Maldives was exposed to the world in 2003, when a prisoner in Maafushi Jail – the largest prison in the Maldives – was beaten to death.

For the first time in the recent history, public unrest rocked the country, and the headlines of the Maldive politics printed in the international media. The incident triggered a prison riot, killing three more inmates and injuring many more. Further, multiple protests erupted in the capital city Male’, and blazing fires in several state-owned buildings and properties.

The protests and demonstrations gave an impression to the world that although the tourists were invited to rest on the beaches in the Maldives, there was no real peace for the citizens during Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s regime, had ruled since November 11, 1978. During his dictatorial regime, political opponents’ movements were suppressed and there was no free media. The citizens were controlled by the state, the same way we see in communist regimes like Libya and North Korea. The executive, legislative and judiciary were under direct control of the president.

Journey for a democracy

On 12 August 2004, thousands of frustrated Maldivians gathered in the Republic Square of the capital Male’ demanding freedom, the same manner in which we have recently witnessed gatherings in Egypt’s Tahrir Square to oust the dictator Hosni Mubarak.

To disperse the crowd, a state of emergency was declared by the Gayoom’s government and mass arrests were made. This led to heavy criticism internationally, forcing Gayoom to launch a reform agenda.

During the reform process, the new changes introduced by Gayoom included appointing young intellectuals to the cabinet, establishing independent institutions (like the Human Rights Commission, Elections Commission, Judicial Services Commission, Civil Service Commission, Anti-Corruption Commission and Police Integrity Commission), drafting a new penal code and giving the authority to form political parties through the parliament (Peoples Majlis). The first registered political party is the current ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

The new reforms improved human rights, governance and press freedom. The ratification of the new constitution on August 7, 2008, which was drafted by the constitutional assembly, guaranteed greater rights for citizens like freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and right to information.

Mainly, the new constitution had separated the state into three powers, executive, legislative and judiciary.

The voting results of the first multi-party elections in October 2008 proved that the people had really wanted a change. The ruler of 30 years was ousted by his political opponent, MDP candidate Mohamed Nasheed, the current president.


Today, some people make the justification that the countries which are not experiencing violent conflict, like Saudi Arabia, are peaceful nations. But this is a false assumption. This is the peace which is portrayed by the media; giving the readers, listeners and viewers a feeling that violent conflict only obstructs peace.

But realistically, the situation cannot be understood by just a shallow exploration. But it should be analysed much deeper and more broadly to know the real situation. This is what Maldives history has taught us.

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17 thoughts on “Comment: Is peace merely the absence of violent conflict?”

  1. Dictatorial regime exists merely by smoldering the fundamental autonomy of human beings. The same phenomenon survived in Maldives for so long, thanks in part, due to the effective (or read brutal ) strategy employed by the previous government. That there will come a time for the ticking bomb to explode to the slightest provocation of seething public was a given as history has taught us. What you see in Gulf and other African countries is the bitter truth of the inevitable that is coming to its natural, logical conclusion. It is time everybody learned the lesson.

  2. good comment piece. wonder which ibrahim mohamed. the ex journalist of minivan???

  3. we gathered outside the mndf headquarters that day to change the government. many got arrested including gogo latheef, jennifer and many more. i wonder what drp is saying today after playing the dirty game before.

    not to forget the hypocrite dr shaheed who condemned the peaceful protest that day being the foreign minister.

  4. Maldives should have reformed the way the Egyptians have made a revolution.

  5. Peace is not the mere absence of violence a true statement indeed.

    It's disappointing that your article implies that we are already at peace.

    We have no peace and no democracy until all human beings, citizens, and visitors alike can live with equal dignity and rights.

    We have no peace while men of this country feel wronged by the criminalizing of domestic abuse.

    We have no peace when crimes like rape, murder and child molestation arouse more curiosity than indignation.

    We have no peace when members of the public take videos of victims of horrific beatings rather than assist.

    We have no peace when we allow human trafficking and strip the victims of the little dignity the have by ridiculing them on the streets.

    We have no peace when we sell our votes for Mrf500 and then feel wronged by their moves which are best described as kleptocratic.

    The list goes on but I'm too depressed to write anymore. We have devolved into a society with no morals whatsoever. We are today, a clan of hypocrites and bigots with no honour or self respect.

  6. We should not compare the Maldives to Egypt. For one thing, Egypt is a real country.

    Secondly, Middle Eastern dictatorships are tolerated and supported by Western governments, because democratising the region would have lead to unpredictable consequences, (perhaps regional war even), and driven up the price of oil; as can be demonstrated by the impact the current "revolutions" are having on the price of oil, and the meek Western response.

    Western governments are happy to preserve the illusion of a stable Monarchy, while taking occasional potshopts as their stifling of individuals rights, because that status quo is politically/economically beneficial to them.

    Thirdly Egypt has a strong (but corrupt) military infrastructure that can easily supplant an unstable democracy. Maldives just faces the prospect of more chaos. Eventually you'll probably get full Saudi style shariah law to replace an unstable, corrupt democracy, because frankly, that is what you deserve.

  7. there is no peace for maldivians unless we throw kenereeyge Mohamed Nasheed

  8. "On 12 August 2004, thousands of frustrated Maldivians gathered in the Republic Square of the capital Male’ demanding freedom, the same manner in which we have recently witnessed gatherings in Egypt’s Tahrir Square to oust the dictator Hosni Mubarak."

    The people would have ousted Gayoom the way Egyptians ousted the great Pharaoh of Egypt, Mr Husni Mubarak. I there are many ways in which we can prove Gayoom is a dictator. One point is that Gayoom supports Husni Mubarak, who is internally recognised as a dictator.

  9. Yes, no violence does not guarantee that there is peace. Real peace is the peace enjoying by the citizens. Getting mind clear from the tensions.

  10. Ifeel...

    Struggle is perpetual. The ideal of justice can never be fully realized on this earth, I believe. The promise of equality, liberty is the ideological hegemony of the middle classes (Gramsci). Due to factors such as cultural capital, inequality and injustice exists everywhere no matter how well developed the institutions are.

    It is due to human nature.

    YET something within us, when stirred, insists that it is impossible that the injustice and suffering of thiw world is the last word. Something within me resists that, and tells me that no matter what, we have to struggle for justice in this world even though we know that it will never be achieved 100 percent. This sense that justice does exist gives me the feeling of the reality of the Divine, it seems to be a priori knowledge, known 'prior' to experience or innate. This is why I have faith of some sort, this sense that any pain one goes through in the pursuit of justice will be rewarded, if not here, then in another world.

    In fact, there is a sense that we cannot experience the full treasures of that which is 'beyond' without that struggle. It is not good enough just to enjoy life, something in us tells us that life is not fulfilled through "enjoyment," though we need to enjoy at times. We cannot run from the struggle and pain of our destiny, or else, we will avoid pain, well we may, but we will be sinking into the darkness of meaninglessness.

    The relationship between suffering and maturity is undrstood by the most ancient of cultures, in the initiation rites of tribal cultures around the world this deep wisdom is expressed.

    The struggle for justice and compassion MUST be embraced by all.

  11. The main thing that your not discused is "Is peace merely the absence of violent conflict"...........But u have told that you have the peace already...


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