Maldivian Islamic groups call for arrest of UN High Commissioner on Human Rights

Protestors gathered outside the United Nations Building in Male’ on Friday afternoon to condemn UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay for her criticism of the Maldivian constitution, namely its provisions endorsing flogging and mandating that every Maldivian be a Muslim.

The protestors carried signboards with angry slogans, including “Islam is not a toy”, “Ban UN” and “Flog Pillay”, and called on authorities to arrest the UN High Commisioner.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam told Minivan News that the sizeable protest was contained and there were no confrontations.

“Police cordoned off the area so people could not enter the UN building or the roads leading to the building. The protest was pretty heated, but there were no confrontations or arrests,” he said.

After a break for Sunset Prayer, protesters renewed their efforts at the Tsunami Memorial.

Shiyam said police guarded the UN building during the evening protest, and kept appraised of its movements.

No concerns have been voiced to the police by the UN.

During a press conference on Thursday evening, Pillay again called for the government and the judiciary to issue a moratorium on flogging.

“Flogging is a form of punishment that is cruel and demeaning to women. I have as High Commissioner traveled to very many Islamic countries, and apart from the Maldives and one other country that practices stoning, flogging is not a practice that is condoned,” she said.

“The issue needs to be examined, and therefore I called for a countrywide discussion. It is much better if the issue is transparent and debated.”

Challenged by a local journalist that the Maldives was both obliged to protect the religion of Islam, she replied: “You have a constitution which conforms in many respects to universal human rights. Let me assure you that these human rights conform with Islam.”

She added that the Maldives had signed international treaties that are legally-binding obligations, “and such a practice conflicts with these obligations undertaken by the Maldives.”

Pillay said she had raised this matter with President Mohamed Nasheed and the judges during her visit, “and they are all looking into this matter. The President is sympathetic because each time he travels outside the Maldives the issue is raised with him. He says he can only look at it on a case by case basis, but if there is a judicial decision, that may apply to all cases.”

She renewed her call for a moratorium, and noted that the Maldives “has an excellent track record regarding the death penalty. The death penalty is unIslamic and is not practiced in the Maldives. When I travel to places where the death penalty is used, I hold up the Maldives as an example of that.”

Asked to comment on the requirement under the Maldivian constitution that all Maldivians be Muslim, Pillay respond that “Such a provision is discriminatory, and does not comply with international standards. I would urge a debate again on the issue to open up entrance of the constitution to all.”

Asked by another local journalist to respond to the religious groups criticising her requests, “my response is that as the UN High Commission of Human Rights I look at the norms and standards that all the governments of the world have drawn up.”

“It is not that I am plucking principles from the air. I point my critics to universally accepted standards on human rights are consistent with Islam. Many governments and scholars have told be there is no conflict between human rights and Islam.”

Pillay also highlighted the plight of expatriate labourers in the Maldives, who make up a third of the population and in many cases have been lured to the country by unscrupulous employment brokers.

“The Minister of Foreign Affairs [Ahmed Naseem] is very aware of the suffering of foreign workers, and agreed that something needs to be done for these people,” Pillay said.

“You can’t have 60,000 people suffering here while performing work for the benefit of Maldivians and the tourism industry, and pretend this is invisible. The media has a role to give these people a voice so they can explain their problems.

“Many of them are trafficked and the little money they earn is exploited. This is of grave concern to me, because people like this are are protected under the UN Convention on Migrant Workers and their Families. I have urged the Maldives to ratify this, and regularise the presence of 60,000 people

“I also call for an end to the stereotyping of these people as a threat and unwanted.”


22 thoughts on “Maldivian Islamic groups call for arrest of UN High Commissioner on Human Rights”

  1. UN official made a real point regarding the migrant workers who are considered a social and economic threat by the general public and their employers often exploit them. However, as the guardian of universal human rights it is of grave concern to the UN Human Rights Commissioner but, as a country and people not encumbered by such a responsibility, we may scoff at her when she calls for a nationwide debate on an issue religious or otherwise in conflict with the universal human rights standards. In its compliance with stoning and flogging as religious, Maldives is a minority country even among Muslim countries that enforce these punishments all the way from the seventh heaven.

    The constitution must provide for not only the citizens but also for the rights as well as duties of the foreign nationals who come and live in this country as workers or tourists. We cannot simply say this is a 100% Muslim country and a place of worship for none other than Moslems can be set up here.

    If the non-Muslim workers and tourists are to live or stay here contributing to the economy and national development, they must be allowed to fulfil their religiious obligations, too, apart from other needs. If as a Muslim country the Maldives cannot cater to their needs why do we have them work and earn for us? Most of the construction companies and other businesses are functioning with a huge force of migrant workers. Their rights is a concern to the UN Human Rights Commissioner as is evident from her statements, "You can't have 60,000 people suffering here while performing work for the benefit of the Maldivians and the tourism industry..." and "I also call for an end to the stereotyping of these people as a threat and unwanted".

  2. "i dont believe you have a constitution" navi pillay.
    why is this sentence omitted biased jj robinson?

  3. Maldives faces brave challenges as regards to human rights.
    Until resent years Maldivians believed in an ideology, that the sole purpose for humans to live on this earth is to pray to almighty Allah.
    And we are supposed to get prepared for day of judgement. But alas as the world developed Maldives was exposed to rest of the world and started to get the bad influence of the rest of the world which is the so called “development”.
    Now, what is happening is that we wish to be in world community but we are unwilling to accept the norms and customs of majority of the world.
    Unfortunately Allah has not blessed us with wealth and intellectuals to get our needs that now a days we need so much. So the only option we have is to go backward to middle ages and live like our ancestors and wait for the day of judgement to have every comfort in haven.

  4. what more you expect from an infidel. She is someone who dont deserve so much attention and we should not break the rules. Just Chill

  5. Who do these human rights activists think they are that they can call upon us to flout the laws of our creator?

    Will "diplomatic immunity" protect you from the heat of the hellfire? I did not think so!

    And as legal scholar, let me tell you something - only Islamic human rights are compatible with Islam; neo-liberal ones need not be and we need not waste our time justifying why this is so.

    Indeed, those who seek to enforce the Universal declaration of MAN MADE human rights are delusional psycopaths. The Ayatu'llah Khomeini, may his name ever be praised, would have had them garroted on the spot.

  6. Undiplomatic for a UN ambassador. Her words hurt a lot of people. She insulted us all by saying that she does not believe we have a constitution... a statement that Robinson and Eleanor did not find noteworthy to include in this article. It is so sad that we pay her to insult us. Sadly she has created more opposition to "universal human rights" in the Maldives than ever before.

    She opposes flogging, but throwing women behind bars like caged animals for year at end, is more cruel and demeaning than flogging for a few minutes. But hey all Western countries practice jailing so it is not a problem for Pillai. What I'm trying to say is that she is trying to impose the norms of those who set "human rights standards" on us. Fact is Western countries are even more barbaric in some ways than us.

  7. Here we go again. Brilliantly portraying the sheer stupidity of the nation.

  8. @hassan ahmed, yes, and by saying this you are showing you yourself are a brave man, all my soul to you Brother... Whilst brave souls such as yourself are willing to speak out against tyranny, your country has great hope...

  9. agree with @maldivian -
    The cause of outrage is not mentioned here. ie, Nav Pillay saying Maldives does not have a constitution. This is widely reported in the Dhivehi media.

    Please tell the whole story, the truth.

  10. Well done Mrs Pillay...... It must be difficult dealing with a bunch of semi literate retards......I mean the Mad Mullahs of Maldives. These morons will forever keep muslim countries in the dark ages. Maldives already has the stupidest discriminatory religious laws in south asia.
    Please, please, please.........if you are Maldivian and planning to visit India........if you really must........don't.........Just give us Indians a break and keep away.

  11. Pillay certainly did create a buzz in the Dhivehi media. If only the foreigners know what is written.

    1. Haveeru news says a senior UN official would never be so outspoken if Maldives is a larger country. Thus the UN has DISCRIMINATED the Maldives.

    2. The Parliament speaker Shahid and the MPs were politely listening to Pillay and profusely thanked her afterwards - sign of his incompetence and lack of sense.

    3. If a Maldives MP said what Pillay has said in Dhivehi, the parliament would be in full riot. Thus one of the conclusions by a commentator is that MPs do not understand English - and not so educated.

  12. Islam does not need protection by a constitution. I don't understand why this taboo ideas are still kept by a group of short minded minorities. And the politicians do not have the guts to speak up and debate on the issue, which ironically question the very fundamental principles of Islam, such as peace and no compulsion to religion.

    Don't let few idiots, control the mighty religion of Islam.

  13. If flogging unmarried mothers is mandatory in Islam then why is the maldives and only one other Islamic country practising this form of punishment?

    And why do the men who gave their seed to the unmarried mothers escape punishment?

    And why do the courts not demand paternity tests for children born our of wedlock?

    Is Islam so cruel a religion that it does not allow children born outside marriage to get child support or inheritance from their fathers or to be a part of the family of their fathers? Is islm so misogynist that it allows the fathers to escape the punishment of premarital sex while the mother gets publicly flogged? A child is created by the acts of two people. Why are women only punished?

    I refuse to believe that Islam is a religion so rigid so unfair so sexist so misogynist and so backward.

    Perhaps if there were more women Islamic scholars then the interpretation of our religion and the Shariah would be different.

  14. Most Maldivians DO NOT understand perfect English and when spoken in the diplomatic terms. They misunderstand because they never comprehend what's been said in full.


  15. indiranewdelhi, spoken like a true bigot. i expect u are a troll of minivan, because i know a lot of people from new delhi and they are certainly not like you

  16. @Hameed

    Ms Pillay did not say we have no constitution. The media misquoted her. Why don't you get the recording from Haveeru? (thats is if they will let you have it). If the media in the Maldives wants to be taken seriously they have to give factual accounts of interviews and press conferences.

  17. @ indira new delhi....please give us a break and take all the dirty indians out of our country

  18. I am a muslim and am sad that the Islamic laws are not practised in my country.I feel so happy that my brothers and sisters from Maldives are proud Muslims and guard their Islamic values.May Allah help us to become like you people.


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