“If you want to sue Shafeeg, you’ll have to sue me,” President tells Gayoom

President Nasheed has promised that the Maldives Police Service will investigate claims made by local historian Ahmed Shafeeg in his book, that 111 Maldivian citizens were held in custody and tortured by the former administration.

The claims led former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom to declare that he would file a court case against Shafeeg for politically-motivated slander.

Spokesman for the former president, Mohamed Hussain ‘Mundhu’ Shareef, did not respond to Minivan News at time of press. However the former president’s lawyer, Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim, was cited in newspaper Miadhu as saying that lawsuits would be filed “against anyone who writes anything untrue and unfounded against Gayoom”, and that all such cases so far had been won.

During a ceremony at the Nasandhura Palace Hotel this morning to launch Shafeeg’s book, titled “A Day in the Life of Ahmed Shafeeg”, Nasheed observed that the former President was not solely to blame for human rights violations.

“The [human rights] violations were not committed by Gayoom alone. A whole system committed them. The whole culture of the Maldives committed them,” he said.

Shafeeg, now 82, was held in solitary confinement for 83 days in 1995 together with three other writers, including Hassan Ahmed Maniku, Ali Moosa Didi and Mohamed Latheef.

Shafeeg contends that 50 of his diaries containing evidence relating to the deaths of the 111 Maldivians were confiscated during a raid by 15 armed men. He was ultimately released by Gayoom with without charge, and was told by the investigating officer to write a letter of appreciation to the then-President for the pardon.

The lawyer representing Shafeeg, Abdulla Haseen, said the family intended now intended to press five charges against the former president after the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) rejected the case, claiming it was outside the commission’s mandate.

The President added that he knew the events chronicled by Shafeeg very well.

“Back then, from 1989 and 1990 onward, I spent a very long time – three years in total – in jail. Of that I spent 18 months in solitary confinement, and nine of those months in the tin cell,” he said.

All Maldivian rulers had employed fear to govern, Nasheed said, and he had always believed that Gayoom had him arrested and tortured to serve as a cautionary tale as the former president and his senior officials were already aware of the intent of “a whole generation” to topple his government since the early 80s.

“So the decision to put me through every imaginable torture in the world from the very beginning as an example to all those people was made, in my view, not because of any animosity President Maumoon had towards me personally,” Nasheed said.

He added that Gayoom alone could not be blamed for all the human rights abuses that occurred under his watch.

“It was not done by him alone. It was a whole system that did it. It was Dhivehi tradition that did it. It was Dhivehi culture that did it,” he said.

The President said said he thought that Gayoom’s decision to take legal action against the 82 year-old historian, who has lasting physical and mental damage from his ordeal, “is going beyond the limits.”

“I ask President Maumoon very sincerely and respectfully, don’t do this,” Nasheed said. “Go to Shafeeg. Go and ask for his forgiveness. This is not the time to come out and say ‘I’m going to sue Shafeeg.’ If you want to sue Shafeeg now, you will have to sue me. That is because I will repeat what Shafeeg is saying fourfold.”

Nasheed urged the former President to seek forgiveness, as he believed Gayoom had the “foresight and learning” as well as “capability and talent”, and had made “many contributions to the country.”

Together with allegations of corruption in the former administration, such as those aired by former Auditor General Ibrahim Naeem prior to his dismissal by the opposition-controlled parliament, allegations of torture remain one of the most politically divisive topics in the Maldives.

Opinions – very strongly held – oscillate between a desire for justice and a desire to move on, a desire for revenge and a desire for reconciliation.

Given the current state of the Maldives judiciary, sensitivity of the issue and extreme political polarisation of the country, it is likely that any verdict with even a remote chance of being accepted by both sides would need to come from an international court. Shafeeg’s family have indicated that they are prepared for this course of action should legal proceedings falter in the Maldives.


33 thoughts on ““If you want to sue Shafeeg, you’ll have to sue me,” President tells Gayoom”

  1. HRC is just another lame dog. They are not a human rights defender. It was typical then as would be typical today to say what happened to Shafeeg is out of their mandate. What is in their mandate? I wonder. Expressing herself in a forum recently, the HRC "acting then" and "elected now" President of HRC showed that she does not have the charisma, and honor for truth and human rights when she said that HRC functions within the limits of the Maldivian Constitution, rules and regulations. What is the point if human rights can be violated and because some people are above the law or there are too many loop holes in the law. In my understanding a human right defender upholds Humanity and Truth above everything else.

    I saw Shafeeg (May he rest in peace) after he was brought out of jail. I honor this man for his integrity. He was a peaceful, extremely intelligent man and passionate about his writing and history. He did not harbor hatred.

    What happened symbolizes how dangerous it was and it takes a lot of sacrifice to break a system like that. Now we head into another kind of system more dangerous than any other. If we give in to the extremist Islamic movement (and Adhaalath Party), the sacrifice will be multiple and more violent than the regime of Maumoon.

  2. where can i buy this book?

    note to Sensa: Shafeeg is very alive, passionate, and intelligent.

  3. Maumoon and his cronies will be pissing uncontrollably to their pants right now. Just apologize to the nation, it's that simple.

  4. MDP came to power simply just playing Maumoon card. Today on public opinion they are loosing, and the Maumoon card is no longer that much helpful, but still they believe thats the best card to play. Thats why all this is happening now. Any one who know about Maldives should understand, we have so many important issues than dragging in to a street fight to two elderly man in their 80s.

  5. "We are ONE" ... love your fellow people as yourself... live and let live.. We all belong to Almighty God, & to him we shall return..,
    Dear Mr.President, for peace to prevail , evils of society needs to be contained. That is a huge part of a real "democracy".
    God is the greatest.
    May Almighty God bless our nation and whole humanity with love, peace, & Truth.

  6. It seems that this is another form of a propaganda by this Shafeeq (with cooperation from Anni)to become a fame in Maldives. I did not knew until today who this person is. Maumoon had already apologized on the national television for anyone that had mistreated in his administration. The story is over now. Maldivians are no longer interested in any such nitpicking. They want to go "Anneh Dhivehi Rajje" and thats the reason why Maldivians voted to Anni despite his shortcomings. So why cant these old Maldivians live a quite happy life without creating any more chaos.

  7. I wonder whether Qayoom's hardcore supporters honestly do think that these are all fabricated lies? Hundreds of people claim to have been tortured and thousands more have witnessed the state sponsored torture and abuse by the security forces on the streets.. I do not know how one would justify this and clear up their conscious in supporting Qayoom despite all this...

  8. I had the honor of meeting with Shafeeq once and I count it among the highlights of my life. He is an avid chronicler and a diarist with the kind of passion for his calling which is rare among most who claim an interest in history today.

    If any claims made against Maumoon cannot be substantiated then there would be some sort of vindication provided to the former President from Maldivian courts of law - and even the judiciary as it stands today cannot be held to blame for doing so. Generally speaking, Gayyoom's rule did perpetuate a system of intimidation of political dissidents, a culture that did not allow a meritocracy to ever be established here in the Maldives (which is still the case) and a thirst for revenge against the slightest offense.

    Shafeeq is a living legend and should be afforded respect as such. The best course of action for Gayyoom would be to make sure that his lawyers only demand a retraction of statements within the book that cannot be backed up with evidence and some sort of financial compensation, if he so desires.

    Pressing criminal charges against a respected and aged member of society seems unnecessarily petty and vindictive. However, in Gayyoom's defense, the timing of the book's release is conveniently coincidental and rumors abound of Gayyoom's possible return to a life of politics. Such rumors might be part of MDP strategy to bring out the vote on the coming election day. Gayyoom therefore may have been forced to file suit in order to keep his party afloat.

  9. It's outside HRCM mandate, not because his case doesn't amount to human rights violations, but because the Human Rights Commission Act says that HRCM cannot invesitagate cases that happened before 1st January 2000. Just like the International Criminal Court cannot handle cases from before 1st July 2002.

    It's sad but they have to have a limit.

  10. I always wonder whether the people who actually carried out the orders of people like Maumoon, Ilyas, Adam Zahir, Isthafa Ibrahim Manik etc felt anything as they broke bones, spines, eyes and finally killed some of the people in custody. These people would not even have known what they were torturing for.

  11. For those who suffered, it is hard to kiss and forget. But for them to let go of their suffering, they need to forgive. For some, before forgiveness, they will go through the process of confronting their pain and sometimes it means facing the persons that hurt them while others are able to work it out within them.

    Even a simple apology and someone people want him to apologize to the nation which he should, is a hard nut to crack for his ego let alone admit a great wrong, abuse the trust of the Maldivian people, as well as exerted force over them.

    Obviously the President is also giving double messages. And so the people who are angry and who has suffered are also confused on what they want to do. During the campaigns, MDP did accuse Maumoon of stacking a huge amount of dollars in a foreign account, didn't they.But on the day Anni and Maumoon appeared on TV together after the election, Anni said there is not evidence. It was justified to lie to the Maldivian people because MDP was campaigning. Can we believe in any one, Anni or Maumoon? Can we have all the Maldivian leaders come clean forum and apologize to the Nation for lying to them, taking their homes away, for enforced hunger, for torture etc

  12. I apologize for my confusion mixing the passing away of his wife (may she rest in peace

  13. @ Andy: Shafeeg doesn't require a stunt to get famous. A)He is over 90 years and I don't think he would have political or any other ambitions by revealing facts about former regime. B Shafeeg doesn't need a stunt famous because he is already famous. It's your ignorance that you don't know about such notable figures of this nation! Maumoon's apology is not an excuse for Shafeeg not to sue Maumoon. A)Maumoon didn't personally apologize from Shafeeg. (It was a vague apology). B)It's Maumoon who first came with the idea of pressing charges and suing.

  14. After maumoon bacame the president of the country, the first thing he did is to establish a Police court and sentence every one who opens mouth against him

    so i think this is the right time for him to establish defermation court. That court should should be placed in the house he has hicked from Hon. Ilyas Ibrahim, Alivaage.

    everyday he can take about 100 people to the court and charge 5000 rupees from each as per defermation law and earn 500,000 rufiya perday.

    abdul latheef adam

  15. When is this government stop blaming the previous government and do the things they promised the people?
    And it is funny that the criminals of the previous government switch sides to the new government and they keep still talking about corruption and torture. We don’t hear anymore the corruption cases of FPID, Atolls, MIFCO, Air Maldives and MTCC anymore? They are still people dying in police custody and in prisons of Maldives and the previous HRC reported still torturing going on at prisons.
    There is nothing different between the “old Maldives” and “the new Maldives”. Criminals ruling before and now and I don’t see any bright future for Maldivians.

  16. Looks like justice is finally catching up with Gayoom.

    I hope that the Torture Victims' Association is able to take Gayoom to court and have him prosecuted for his crimes as soon as possible. We have been waiting too long for this.

  17. @Ekaloa
    I would rather prefer justice be done before anything else!
    If this justice is done, I would think all will come into line!
    It is felt that HEP had tried to walk through all avenues to get going with work needed to be done! But alas! This old young warrior isn't ready to reef his sails!
    He still think if he cannot weather, his son or relative must be at the helm!
    Which is wrong as you can see!

  18. I think everyone on this thread is missing the gist of what Nasheed is trying to get at; which is that the torture and inhumane treatment was systemic and part of Dhivehi culture. Maumoon may be considered the figurehead, and it was helpful to portray it that way for a while. But if you want to find a real life torturer closest to you, you only have to look in a mirror.

  19. Truth and reconciliation is necessarry for this country to move foward. Criminals must be brought to justice.

  20. Not just Shafeeg but every indivual must get justice. What about the individuals who had more seriouse torture? Isnt this an insult to the rest. If you want to talk of justice, start with Abdull Hannan Haleem who still living and has murdured several people in Villingili jails. If Maumoon is guilty in the court of law, he too must be punished. This all dirty politics nothing else and wasting time.

    Now the old man shafeeg is being dragged to this political stunts.

    It just sound so childish of President Nasheed's statement.

  21. @Husen, you have shared something capable of liberating your people if lived, experienced by majority as truth... As you guys say, Kudos to you... (did i use that expression correctly, my dhivehi is the source of heaps of jokes in my family...)

  22. @Sharaf Deen

    I do realize that he is a feeble man and I suspect that this an agenda by his children to gain something?? A country like Maldives could not afford to do such a justice and could not reach better heights if it were to talk about past. We only could avoid such this in future. The poor people out there has already deceived enough by creating these false propagation and its time to wake up. A fact is that Maumoon have not yet been prove guilty for any crime in a court of law. Lets see how this case goes on.

  23. Lets not start a fight, lets live as a family and build our nation. Let the former president live peacefully in this country. Current government can keep on continuing their pledges. Let the Judiciary do the responsibilities. Any government can do and will do mistakes.
    May Allah bless our country and all humanity

  24. Shafeeq is a writer, not a Messenger of
    God. His diaries are his personal memoirs, not a Revelation from Almighty God. If Maumoon is fallible so as Shafeeq.

  25. Shafeeg may be a good writer, but what he writes has to be on facts and he should be carefull on defamation sue bcos this is also democracy. Every invidual has his rights whether former president or any citizen of our country.

    Just because you are a writer and your freedom to do so doesnt mean take revenge when yr time has come to do so.

    I call on HEP keep away from these issues and focus on the national interest.

    Let the independant institutes to these works.

    HEP you have done a great favor to Shafeeg by giving DHOOGAS to Ibrahim Shafeeg.

  26. @ Andy,

    Mr. Shafeeg, like many others was detained , his personel items confiscated and released without charges. To assume that this an attempt by Shafeeg or his children either to become famous or gain something (other than justice) is insulting to all those who suffered under Gayyoom.

    If Maldives were to avoid the wrongs of the past it must confront it's past.

    Let no one be above the law.

  27. @Ibrahim I agree with you and why not start with Abdull Hannan Haleem....Oh I forgot sometimes its "Chaatun Beyruvelun"

  28. It true that many have been unjustly treated by the previous government. Many were abused, their rights violated, a life snatched from them. But if we are to dig up old bones, we'd always end up digging old bones. Because there are so many skeletons in the closet.
    We have, at the moment, too many issues in the country that have to be faced urgently.
    It's important to give your attention to the past, but the present is what's living and breathing, wouldn't it be wiser to raise our heads and walk forward, than keep looking back with every step we take?


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