Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem has announced he will file a defamation case against the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), after it published a pamphlet alleging among other claims that he had secretly voted for the formation of the state of Israel.
“I was not even born then,” Naseem said today. “But the Maldivian public do not know this – many of them don’t know when the state of Israel was created.”
Naseem said people were now shouting at him in the street calling him a “Jew-lover” and making threatening telephone calls following publication of the pamphlet.
The Maldives co-sponsored a resolution to grant Palestine full membership to UNESCO, but the delegation returned before voting.
The resolution was adopted with 107 countries voting in favour, 14 voting against and 52 abstaining, signaling a significant symbolic victory for Palestine’s bid for statehood ahead of a similar vote at the UN General Assembly in New York.
However in the chapter of the contentious pamphlet headed “Helping the Jews instead of aiding the poor people of Palestine”, the DQP states that: “Nasheed’s current Foreign Minister ‘Kerafa’ Naseem is a person who voted on behalf of the Maldives at the UN to [recognise] Israel as an independent nation. Naseem’s action was contrary to both the order and view of the government at the time.”
The party further accused the government of efforts to “familiarise Maldivians with Jews and Israel, and show their virtue and induce love and empathy in Maldivian hearts. Nasheed’s government has brought in teams under different names such as doctors and agriculturists and begun the actual work of acquainting Maldivians with Jews.”
Police interrogated and briefly detained leaders of the DQP on January 12, after the President’s Office requested an investigation into “slanderous” statements alleging the government was working under the influence of “Jews” and “Christian priests” to weaken Islam in the Maldives and incite religious hatred.
DQP council members including former Justice Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and ‘Sandhaanu’ Ahmed Ibrahim Didi were summoned for questioning, while party leader and former Attorney General, Dr Hassan Saeed, accompanied the pair as their lead lawyer.
The Criminal Court’s decision not to extend the detention of the pair eventually led the government to accuse Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed of corruption and political favouritism, and in the absence of activity from the judicial watchdog, order his detention on Girifushi until the judicial crisis was resolved. The move has sparked more than a week of opposition-led protests.
Naseem said today that the international community had not expressed concern about the contents of the DQP pamphlet – “I think they see it as totally ridiculous. No one has spoken to us about it, and I don’t think it’s relevant,” he said.
“The DQP doesn’t have even 2000 members in its party. The leaders are the same people who passed sentences against people with no trial or legal representation [under the former government],” Naseem alleged. With the detention of the chief judge, “Now, suddenly, they have discovered democracy.”
A group of lawyers have meanwhile forwarded the chief judge’s case to the International Ciminal Court, contesting the conditions of the judge’s arrest and his detention at Girifushi.
One of the lawyers, Maumoon Hameed, said the case was submitted “as the continued detention of Judge Mohamed is in clear violation of the International Convention on the Protection of all Persons against Enforced Disappearance.”
Naseem responded by welcoming the submission of a case alleging human rights violation to the ICC: “Our aim is for all Maldivians to have access to the highest court in the international criminal legal system so as to achieve remedy and redress for grave crimes against humanity,” Naseem said, although he said he suspected the lawyers had misconstrued the definition of “crimes against humanity” as defined in the Rome Statute.”
“It’s a good sign in a democracy when locals use the international legal system. This is a proud moment for the government,” Naseem said.