Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed, speaking in a meeting at the Maldvian Democratic Party (MDP) headquaters, has announced that the government will return Maldivian detainees from Syria.
Dr Shaheed said that he would soon travel to Syria with the main purpose of releasing the Maldivian detainees from Syrian jails.
”The main reason of scheduled trip to Syria is to release the Maldivian detainees from prison,” Dr Shaheed said. ”Hopefully, we can release these prisoners and bring them to the Maldives.”
He said the detainees had been kept there for a long time.
”We will bring them and hand over them to their parents,” he said.
He said the Foreign Ministry was a ministry which worked “in transparency making everything visible to the people”.
Speaking in the meeting, Dr Shaheed responded to claims made by the Peoples Alliances (PA) that the current government was trying “to please white people.”
”When the Maldives ran for a seat in the United Nations Human Rights Council, 185 countries voted for us. Are they all white people?” questioned Dr Shaheed.
”Last week the United Arab Emirates (UAE) asked us if they could establish a Maldivian Embassy. Are they also all white people?”
Dr Shaheed did not mention who the detainees were or what they had been arrested for.
Spokesperson for the Foreign ministry Irushadha Abdul Sattar said the ministry was trying to return two Maldivians detained in two different prisons in Syria.
Irushadha said that the two men were detained in Syria due to drug related charges.
”one of them has been detained since 2003 and the other since 2008,” She said.
Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom said if the detainees were Maldivians and innocent people, “the government should not wait a single minute without helping them.”
”If there are innocent Maldivians detained anywhere the government should help them,” Dr Mausoom said.
The Maldivian government has recently announced that it will resettle two detainees from Guantanamo Bay jail, creating public outcry. President Mohamed Nasheed dismissed concerns and claimed it was a “humanitarian” act.
Parliament’s National Security Committee is now investigating the case of the detainees the Maldivian government allegedly agreed to bring in to the country, which some MPs claimed might disrupt the peace and sovereignty of the country.
Dr Shaheed and State Foreign minister Ahmed Naseem was on an official trip and was unable to get a comment, while the President’s Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair is on leave.