MPs sacrificing core Maldivian values for personal political mileage on Gitmo issue: Dr Shaheed

Political self-interest and false assumptions are behind some MPs’ opposition to the government’s plans to resettle a Guantanamo Bay detainee in the Maldives, Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed has said.

Opposition to the plan, Dr Shaheed said, amounts to “a couple of MPs and their sponsored press” who “shot first and asked questions later”. Their objections to the plan, he said, do not reflect “core Maldivian values and are based on false assumptions.”

It is assumed, he said, that “everybody at Guantanamo is a lethal terrorist” and that “this government is going to break laws to accede to the United States’ request”.

Both assumptions are false, he said, and are backed by a third – again false – premise that “whatever Shaheed does, must be attacked”.

“Last year I was pilloried because I spoke to the Israelis… Last year the problem was that I did not care about Palestinians. This year the problem is that I care too much about the Palestinians,” Dr Shaheed said.

“When you remove this politicking and the madness from the surface”, he said, “you are left with a lot of people who think it is good to help people find a better life”. Helping Muslims, helping Palestinians, Dr Shaheed said, are values that Maldivians have long believed in.

Dr Shaheed was speaking to Minivan on the government’s plan to resettle a Guantanamo Bay detainee in the Maldives. The detainee is a Palestinian national who has remained in United States custody at Guantanamo Bay for the last eight years.

The detainee was taken into United States custody in Karachi, Pakistan, and transferred to the prison in Guantanamo Bay in 2002. “He was a non-political Muslim preacher, a Tablighi”, Dr Shaeed said.

“By all accounts, and from what I have seen, he is an innocent person,” Dr Shaheed said. No criminal charges were ever brought against him, nor was he tried at any of the US military tribunals that determined the “enemy combatant” status of detainees.

The Bush administration refused to grant ‘Prisoner of War’ status to any of the detainees held in United States custody as part of the War on Terror, denying them all the rights guaranteed by the Third Geneva Convention.

The decision allowed the United States government to detain prisoners indefinitely without charge and without legal representation. Despite the Obama administration’s decision to close Guantanamo Bay in 2008, close to 200 detainees still remain at the facility.

No money exchanged hands

The Maldivian government’s decision to assist the current United States administration in closing Guantanamo Bay by resettling one of the detainees, Dr Shaeed said, was not going to break any laws of the country, nor was it a decision made on a quid pro quo basis.

“The United States has not come with a bag full of money and said: ‘here’s your reward for doing this’, but because we work with the US on this and other issues, they will try to help us where we need help,” Dr Shaheed said.

He denied that the Maldives had been complicit in the Bush administration’s controversial practice of extraordinary renditions in which suspected terrorists were transported from one country to another without due process.

The Maldives, however, had acquiesced to the United States request to allow its planes to refuel at her airports during its military invasion of Afghanistan that began in October 2001.

Although the permission was granted, Dr Shaheed said, it was not utilised. It was more a pragmatic move which allowed the United States to add the Maldives to the list of countries that supported its War on Terror.

“It was also important for them to be able to say that Muslim countries were backing them also, because they were not attacking Islam, they were attacking Al-Qaeda.”

Proceeding with caution

Dr Shaeed said that until both the Maldivian parliament and the United States Congress were satisfied that the detainee did not pose a threat to the national security of either country, he would not be brought to the Maldives.

The invitation to resettle in the Maldives has been extended to the detainee on the basis that he agrees to abide by certain conditions, Dr Shaheed said. And the agreement with the United States to resettle him in the Maldives is dependent on the fulfilment of three conditions.

“We have to first satisfy ourselves that the person poses no threat to the Maldives; that our laws are compatible with the resettlement; and that the United States will meet its costs. That is the basis from which we started the negotiations, and that is what we are still maintaining,” Dr Shaheed said.

He denied any possibility that the detainee might establish links with the increasingly radical elements of Maldivian society. “There is no such danger”, he said.

Nor was there any evidence to suggest that detainees who are resettled in third countries associate with, or contribute to radicalisation of host societies, he said.

A “Mullah environment”

Dr Shaheed agreed that the Maldives lacks, and needs, an integrated and coherent anti-radicalisation policy that addresses the issue as a whole.

“It is too fragmented to say that there are nine in Pakistan doing Jihad, four in a park exploding a bomb, five in the park calling for the murder of a High Commissioner in another country – these are all fragmented – we need to see where we are in a more coherent manner,” Dr Shaheed said.

He said the Maldives needs to take stock of where it currently is, and to gauge how far the education system has become “atrophied into an instrument of radicalism”.

What is needed is to assess the extent to which democracy has “opened the floodgates of radical ideas”, he said, and how far the society itself has become a handmaiden of radicalism.

The ‘operating environment’ in the Maldives, he said, is “a Mullah environment”. Any development plans or any plans for change, unlike in other developing countries such as those in Latin America for example, he said, have to take “the Mullah environment into account”.

Grand narratives that currently dominate the Maldivian society, such as that of treating women as second class citizens, Dr Shaheed said, need to be addressed and changed.

A policy document that targets these problems in a coherent manner is needed, without which “we have not yet fathomed the scale of the problem”, he said.

“What we do know is, every day it is increasing”, Dr Shaheed said. “I believe women in this country are in great danger”.


14 thoughts on “MPs sacrificing core Maldivian values for personal political mileage on Gitmo issue: Dr Shaheed”

  1. Shaheed is correct guaging the PA and DRP's context of the isse. ie. that they are playing politics with a purely humanitarian issue.

    But wrong in the "Mullah environment" part. Rather we seems to have a "kaafir environment" albeit a little bit so...

  2. Mulla Environment V. Kafir (atheist) Environment...
    We need to work hard to eradicate both Mullas and Kafirs from this land.

  3. and onething more; that the Mullahs shall be sent to the most liberal states and Kafirs (atheists) to Pakistan.. to let them see what they mock,,,, and die hard on that.

  4. I agree with Shaheed. We need to stop these damned Mullahs from wrecking our traditional Maldivian way of life.

    As for the GITMO detainee, we should welcome someone who has been so badly treated by the Bush administation. After all, he is innocent until proven guilty.

  5. I have never read any writer who can rattle off one political philosophy after another, one theory after another the way Dr. Shaheed can. The guy's mind is enormous. I think, his heart has been a long time catching up to his mind, but he has really surprised me lately. He has made some fairly unpopular decisions and has stuck to his guns. He spoke out against the literalist application of the Hadd (flogging) of women for zina, saying something to the effect that it was not right in our day and age, he is expressing Muwahid (Oneness) and joining his heart together with some oppressed Muslims, and he is speaking out against the Mullahisation (made that word up, is is trendy, hehe - i've shot enough crap on these blogs to earn a poetic licence to invent words...)...

    I am starting to really believe he has more guts these days (as opposed to when he said something against Anni for reasons which appeared to be, at the time, to fit in with Maumoon) though he denied that... But I am just very happy to see man's heart grow from strength to strength

  6. Dr Shaheed 4 years back you are the professor who declared, President Gayoom as the father of democracy and after President Naseeds elected as president you said he what are you boasting yourself and bubling about others.
    Political self-interest and false assumptions are behind evryone including yourself.

  7. Dr. Shaheed why are you so passionate about the issue of settling Guantanamo prisoners in Maldives. He is a criminal or not, we could care less. Your sincerity in the issue is questionable. We never believed you are sympathetic to the plight of Palestinians. If you think otherwise you’re in a fantasy as always you appear to be in.

  8. One wonders why Dr Shaheed has raised this matter in the media again! He had been very quiet for sometime, when suddenly he has stoked the fires of this particular storm! Me thinks this is a red herring, and that the master strategist is trying to deflect attention away from something! What could it be? He has spent nearly one month in Washington and New York-- does anyone know what he was doing there?

  9. Women in this country are in great danger? Is this Dr Shaheed announcing his political ambitions or articulating his altruistic concerns? For a minute I thought Dr Shaheed was declaring his intention to run for the presidency, but on reflection, I realized that he runs one of the most gender-sensitive ministries -- on both occasions as Minister, he has hired women as Deputy Ministers, he has appointed three women High Commissioners, and has appointed a number of women to top positions in the Ministry. Of course, the male chauvinists began by attacking these appointments first as girl friends (Aindhy, Shehenaz), and when this was not sustainable, as relatives (Haula,Farahnaz, Iruthisham), and then when this proved unsustainable (Liusha, Inaya,Kadija, Diyana) he is being attacked as a wimp.


  11. Spinner or not granting asylum is a honorable act, although i would say what are the aftereffects. Would be have to grand asylum to Somali pirates as well, where will it stop. These are questions to be asked, this is something he needs to come out and clarify.

  12. I am surprised that Dr Shaheed has not been attacked for this article with the same vitriol that he is normally attacked! See for example the comments in Haveeru,on anything to do with Dr Shaheed. I think the good doctor would be rather unhappy that this article has not drawn the bile that he normally draws from the the Opposition windbags. Especially when the criticism is entirely ad hominen, and reduced to a couple of epithets like "Spinner" or a slogan like "We have lost faith in you"! Clearly that is drpspeak!
    Now then, be that as it may, he makes some very good points in the article-- core Maldivian values do include humanitarianism, support for Palestine, support for Muslim brethren.

  13. DR.Shaheed the real extremist!!! He openly mocks islam!!

  14. “He was a non-political Muslim preacher, a Tablighi”
    yeah, that's what weed more preachers.
    If they wanted money why don't they just open a training camp for al qaida or something. i'm sure there will be enough candidates.


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