The Maldives has condemned Israel’s continuing offensive on Gaza and called for an immediate cease-fire as Malé prepares for a Free Palestine Rally today.
“Israel must stop the invasion of Gaza, it should stop the killing, the airstrikes, and declare a cease-fire, and start dialogue with Palestine,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Dunya Maumoon said on Saturday.
Meanwhile, over 12,000 Maldivians have pledged to attend a Free Palestine Rally in Malé tonight. The event has received support from across the political spectrum.
Youth leaders of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance (MDA), pro-government Jumhooree Party and Adhaalath Party and opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) held a joint press conference on Monday and called on supporters to attend the rally.
Event organizer, Hamna Waheed said the rally aims to show solidarity with the people of Palestine and opposition to the Israeli attacks on Gaza.
“There won’t be any speeches. We are gathering to express solidarity with Palestinian people, to stand against Israeli attacks on Gaza. We are standing just like many others around the world,” she said.
The march is to begin at 9:30 pm in front of the Social Center in Malé and will end at the Cricket Stadium with a prayer for the people of Gaza.
Organizers have requested supporters to wear black and white.
A rally is to be held in the country’s second most populous atoll Addu at 4:00 pm today.
While welcoming the UN Security Council’s call for a ceasefire, Dunya also said the council “needs to make stronger decisions as provided for by the UN Charter to stop Israeli aggression in Palestine.”
She also called on Israel to “heed the international community’s calls and respect international humanitarian law” and demanded the international community intensify efforts to cease the violence in Gaza.
Urging the international community to find a stable and lasting solution to the crisis, Dunya reiterated Maldives’ support for a two state solution through dialogue.
Opposition MP and former Speaker of the Parliament Abdulla Shahid has urged the government to use Maldives’ position in the UN Human Rights Council to act against the Israeli offensive in Gaza.
President Abdulla Yameen phoned Palestinian President Dr Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday and condemned “Israel’s inhuman actions in killing many innocent citizens of Palestine.”
Yameen pledged to do all necessary in the international arena to aid Palestinians.
Abbas thanked Yameen for the call and thanked the people of Maldives for their solidarity with Palestine, the President’s Office said.
The government’s reaction came after opposition criticism over inaction.
On July 10, opposition leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed called on all human rights defenders to raise their voice against “indiscriminate killings in Gaza” and requested all Maldivian to speak out against Israel’s “inhumane acts in Gaza.”
MDP’s national council held a rally on July 12 in Malé protesting the attacks on Gaza and condemning the government’s silence on the matter.
Subsequently, Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer has requested the Commissioner of Police to investigate and prosecute protesters who gathered near Islamic Minister Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed’s residence during the rally.
The Freedom of Assembly Act, enacted following the controversial power transfer of 2011, prohibits protests against individuals at their private residences, the Home Ministry said.
Opposition leaders and supporters have also criticised the religious Adhaalath Party for failing to mention the conflict during the sermon in Friday prayers on July 11.
Shaheem responded in a tweet on the same day stating the sermon included a general prayer for victory over enemies of Muslims and on July 13 said a special prayer for Palestine will be included in the sermon on July 18.
The Adhaalath Party – of which the Islamic minister Shaheem is a member – also announced the establishment of a Gaza Relief Fund on July 12.
Nasheed in a tweet on the same day said it is “unwise” to donate for a fund established by Adhaalath Party without receiving the expenditure details of the “Mosque Fund” set up by the Islamic Ministry.
A heated exchange ensued on Twitter, with Shaheem claiming the fund’s expenditures were shared with the People’s Malis and media, and implied Nasheed had left the country to avoid the MDP’s rally that night.
“Nasheed cannot tolerate any action against the Jews in Maldives,” he said.
Nasheed accused Shaheem of lying and said he had left the country on an emergency medical trip on July 7, three days before the call for protest.
According to figures publicised by Shaheem, the Mosque Fund received MVR 21.5 million in donations and spent MVR 14.9 million as of July 2013.
Nasheed on Monday said the MDP is ready to go defend Gaza, and said he believed there is no reason that Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) should not go to Gaza in Palestinian’s defence.