Opposition misleading international media to sabotage economy, claims government

The government has continued to criticise opposition politicians, including representatives of President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, for “misleading” international media over the scale of protests in Male’ last week.

The protests were today labelled by the Washington Post as one of the 29 largest crackdowns of the last decade, eclipsing the riots following the death of Evan Naseem.

After seven days of demonstrations across Male’ last week, purportedly in protest against the government’s decision to implement a managed float of the rufiyaa – police on Wednesday (May 4) announced that any protests not held in the open artificial beach or tsunami monument areas would be immediately dispersed.

The opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) has insisted the protests are ‘youth-led’ despite the apparent leadership of its MPs, and tried to replicate the ‘Arab Spring’ protests across the Middle East by branding President Nasheed as a despot to the international media and dubbing a busy Male’ intersection ‘Youth Square’.

In the Washington Post piece, photos were published of 29 protests that have occurred around the world and were deemed to be among the biggest demonstrations and crackdowns of the decade – including the recent unrest in the Maldives.

“Syria, Libya and other Middle Eastern regimes aren’t the only ones to use force against protesters. Here are some of the major crackdowns since 2000,” wrote the paper in a picture story on its website.

The Maldives is listed at 28th, placed between the riots in Uganda last month over rising fuel costs – where protesters were shot at by police – and Egypt’s anti-government uprisings that ended the thirty year reign of President Hosni Mubarak in February.

“In recent weeks, hundreds of anti-government protesters took to the streets of Maldives to demonstrate against soaring prices and demand the resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed,” the article wrote, alongside a photograph of a local protester who appeared to have been knocked down by Maldivian police carrying batons.

Responding to the Washington Post article, Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair said he was suspicious that international journalists from established publications like the Washington Post were speaking to representatives of the former president or opposition politicians, who in some cases had provided false information in an attempt to “tarnish” the government’s image.

“We have received alleged reports that former President Gayoom’s spokesperson – Mohamed Hussain ‘Mundhu’ Shareef – has been contacted by international media and has perhaps given the impression he remains as the spokesperson for the current President Mohamed Nasheed,” said Zuhair.

“There appears to be misconception that there has been a higher turnout at these protests than were actually there,” he said.

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, who is currently on an official visit to China, has also accused Gayoom’s spokesperson of giving interviews to Chinese journalists who were under the impression he was the spokesperson for the current administration.

‘’Most of the foreign papers have his [Shareef’s] number as the spokesperson of the President, so when they contact him he says he is [the President’s] spokesperson,’’ Moosa claimed on the MDP’s website. “He has told foreign papers that there is severe civil unrest in Male’ and that it is not safe to send tourists here.’’

Moosa alleged that Shareef was “intentionally” seeking to destroy the tourism industry of the Maldives and “to mislead the international community.”

Minivan News contacted Shareef to refute the allegations, but he refused to comment on the matter.

Zuhair said that the week of protests had represented the involvement of only a small part of a voting population that in Male’ alone numbered tens of thousands of people.

“This is the case of the picture telling the story,” Zuhair said. “After the first few nights of protests the numbers [of participants] began to dwindle to just a few hundred people on the final night [Friday, May 6],” he claimed.

Zuhair claimed that he believed that there had been a deliberate attempt to try and tarnish the image of President Nasheed internationally through the supply of information to foreign media that he said had led to travel warnings being issued to Asian travel markets like Hong Kong.

The government reported today that the President’s Special Envoy, Ibrahim Hussain Zaki, had been sent to China in the wake of several travel warnings issued in the region that are feared to have begun harming one of the fastest growing tourist arrivals markets presently coming to the Maldives.

Speaking last week following criticisms by Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem of the manner in which some politicians had been courting international media attention, leader DRP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali hit out at suggestions of media manipulation.

Thasmeen said at the time that he was “utterly surprised” that a member of the current government, which has vocally supported freedom of speech and democratic reforms, would find protests “unreasonable” on the basis of protecting tourism.

“We have seen them try to stifle protest through using excessive police force,” he claimed. “We are peaceful protestors and are not impacting tourism in Male’.”

Thasmeen added that he believed the government had not made attempts to initiate a dialogue on the issue of living costs, although the opposition said they were willing to negotiate on the matter even though they did not agree to the current devaluation strategy being pursued.

“Obviously there are a lot of protesters here, but the government does not want to listen,” he said. “Lots of people are suffering.”

Thasmeen said that accusations that the country’s political opposition had been “misleading” international media was an “oversimplification” of the issues behind the protests.

“The international media are professionals, many of who will already know the facts of the protests, I don’t see it will be possible to manipulate them,” he said.

Thasmeen claimed that reports of excessive force against protesters had been accurate, adding that MDP supporters led by their parliamentary leadership had been “violently charging” protest crowds while police were attempting to disperse peaceful protesters.

The Maldives Journalists Association (MJA) has meanwhile issued a statement to international media and groups such as the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF), alleging “infuriating and agitating conflict by the police”, urging authorities to “bring to a halt the atrocities targeted towards journalists.”


27 thoughts on “Opposition misleading international media to sabotage economy, claims government”

  1. wat the hell washington post? these demonstrations are led by thugs like umar naseer, Haraan if they actually give a damn about the rising cost of living.

    if the opposition actually cared they would stop trying to cock block every move made by the govt

  2. Mundhu caught lying again - no surprise there. He was taught to lie by the biggest liars of them all: Hill & Knowlton, who basically ran Maumoon's regime during its final years.

  3. how can washingtonpost get this so wrong? amazing how hollow top pros can be. the fact is that the said protest can never ever come even close to world rankings as the worst crackdown of a protest. its a joke how washingtonpost got duped by sinister lies and drama of dirty politics.. if this is their level of top notch journalism than nothing more shall be talked about journalism.

  4. Good honest reporting Minivan, the DRP want the power and will lie their way back at the expense of the whole country, since when did they struggle to pay their fuel bills! Mundhu is beyond belief!

  5. The opposition's media blitz is better than the government's.

    A large percentage of the dollars coming into the country are controlled by a handful of businessmen. The legislation to enforce deposits in local banks does not exist. The government cannot do much until the legislation is passed.

    Parliament's co-operation is essential. However, they are unlikely to extend that co-operation. Around 50 or so out of 77(?) members are businessmen whose personal interests override their duty to their constituents.

    The government's options are limited. Floating the dollar is one. They can also withhold permits like the one Qasim Ibrahim needs at present. Landing rights for flights. Extension of liquor licenses are another the government can withhold.

    The irony is that it is these same business tycoons that are instigating these riots together with Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom. Using the name of 'youth' is but a fallacy.

    The solution does not lie with the government. It's in the peoples' hands. The dollars these few people control belong here in this country. It's ours.


  6. Hehehe, A slap on the face of the masonic agent Nasheed who thinks he is the darling of the international community and the whole world is blindly supporting him. No one person is important than the whole population of Maldives, Be it Maumoon or Nasheed. International media will report police brutality against peaceful protesters, international media don't care who the President is.
    This is what happens when a politician who promoted himself as a human rights activist turns environmental activist dictator when he became president. kekeke

  7. You people are so worried about tourist arrival, how about our kids not being unable to rest or sleep in the middle of the night.

    Thasneem can talk through his butt while relaxing in a luxury island in Vaavu Atoll Aarah.

  8. MDP is getting their own medicine now, MDP did the same thing to get power,they underestimated DRP. When DRP play wild card they seems to be better in every front, every election after presidential election they are wining, and also now they are far ahead to speared news on international media. Its time for MDP to learn to digest, rather than trying to spin.

  9. I dont think Reko Moosa can have any understating of a conversation between a foreign diplomat, because the guy cannot speak any foreign language fluently or has ability to understand.He is an actor, so he can act and tell lies any amount.

  10. Reeko musa will probably dance for a maldivian song infront of the chinese authorities.hehehe

  11. MDP umbah jehee dho. You guys did the same thing and at that time Aljazeera and BBC were on your side. Now that when DRP is doing the same, why can't you accept it. The international media is not fake like MDP and Anni. They came here and saw the truth. They saw the police brutality against protesters and they listened to the people of Maldives. Now if you have any shame left, stop blaming DRP or anyone, just make things right for the public, for they are the ones who trusted you guys and elected you guys to run the government.

  12. The government has fallen squarely into the hands of its opponents. Just take a look at that picture of a "protestor" lying in the middle of baton wielding policemen. Newspapers the world over will love that sort of picture.

    How many people remember similar pictures of the current President being manhandled by Gayyoom's police? Those pictures were dramatic too and were shown throughout the world.

    Why would the Maldivian Police Service need 10s of baton wielding policemen around an unarmed person lying on the ground? There may be very good reasons for this, but the picture tells a very different story from what the government is trying to tell.

    The President's spokesman has once again failed. He's once again trying to do a damage limitation exercise. Yep, MDP's own tactics are now being used against them!

  13. Just take a look at this article from the Washington Post:


    This is a clear example of people like Mundhu lying and misleading the media. The government also totally failed to explain basic facts to the media. Examples:

    "Umar Nazeer, deputy leader of the opposition Dhivehi Raithunge Party, was detained as the protesters began marching Tuesday night in the capital..."

    Umar is the main weapon used here. He deliberately puts himself into situations where the Police have to arrest him. His sole aim IS to get arrestted, so that he can make the news!

    "The government announced Wednesday that Nazeer was released after a few hours. It did not say if the others were also freed."

    There we go. Because the government didn't specify how many others were released, it's assumed that EVERYONE else is being detained without trial etc.

    "The protesters are unhappy over the government’s decision last month to allow the country’s currency, the rufiyaa, to float against the U.S. dollar. The currency quickly fell in value, resulting in higher prices for essential commodities, most of which are imported."

    What ESSENTIAL commodities went up in value? And by how much? Here again, totally wrong information is being used by the paper. Once again, there's no government source to clarify this.

    "“We did nothing, this is unlawful,” opposition spokesman Mohammed Shareef said of the detentions, adding that organizers told police that the constitution allows for protests at any place without notice."

    Here's a classic Mundhu lie. The Consitution dosn't allow disruption to public order and disruption to the lives of ordinary people and businesses. You cannot hold the people of a city to ransom in the name of protests!

    "It was unclear how many people were still in custody after the four days of protests."

    The paper repeats the same thing again. This just reinforces the message in the reader's mind that the government is detaining and throwing in jail those who protest against its policies! Of course, that didn't happen, but since information wasn't forthcoming from the government, the paper is free to make up its sensational story.

    "“Peaceful protest is legal and welcome in the Maldives’ new democracy. But former President Gayoom is taking advantage of the economic situation to cause violence in the streets,” presidential spokesman Mohamed Zuhair said."

    This is totally inadequate from Mr Zuhair. Everyone including the international media are getting tired of the same Gayyoom mantra coming out of his mouth. He has wasted ample opportunity to explain exactly what's going on. He sounds just like the mouthpiece of any old dictator around the world! The same old broken record keeps playing... No wonder the foreign media found the story to be so interesting.

  14. And another thing to note from the Washing Post quotes:

    ““Peaceful protest is legal and welcome in the Maldives’ new democracy. But former President Gayoom is taking advantage of the economic situation to cause violence in the streets,” presidential spokesman Mohamed Zuhair said.”

    What NEW democracy? Did we have an OLD democracy? For God's sake, this is the ONLY time we've ever had democracy in this country during its entire existence! What's Mr Zuhair smoking?

  15. It is ironic that DRP led street protests always coincide with the weeks preceding overseas exams. They organize noisy street protests prior and during the last Cambridge O-level exams and again when students are preparing for the A-level exams. It appears Gayyoom's youth policies are still in practice.

  16. Ekaloa
    , MDP protested to topple a 30 year dictatorship, so that you could express ur opinions freely like this

  17. it is surprising to see someone like Thasmeen who owes a big non paid loan in Us dollars, to Bank of Maldives talking about dwindling economy. We are also responsible citizens and we suffer more than these corrupted politicians. But we believe that we have to bear the cost of mismanagement of state funds during the dictatorial regime of 30 years. I wonder what washington post has to say about a fledgling government which came to power after over throwing a 30 year old regime.Surely each and everything cannot be blamed on the new government as it inherited a mismanaged state in chaos.

  18. If Thasmeen is so worried about the state of the economy, he can give back the US$85 million loan that he took from BML and seem to have very conveniently forgotten about. And Mundhu, seriously man, you are more pathetic than ever imagined! You've always been a puppet to Maumoon and his family, and you still don't see how they are still using you. Maybe you can tell us how much you have been paid for your services?!

    Its a real joke when people like Thasmeen and Mundhu are so "worried" about the people of this country and its an even bigger joke that there are still so many people who believe what these crooks say....

  19. Whats our Foreign Ministry doing all the while? We need a competent foreign minister who can perform effectively in international arena.

    When Shaheed was heading the ministry he managed to keep this governments voice heard in international media.

  20. MDP getting the taste of its own medicine and it is BITTER isnt it..and dont have the guts to digest it Huh..LOL

    It is MDP who started this game. They tried to tarnish the image of Maldives just to topple the government of that time with, misinformations. They tried the Tourism boycott campaign with FOM to weaken our economy.
    So dont try to convey a picture of Nasheed as a saint and opposition as Devils.

  21. All lies are truth and all truth are lies to Z-day. Its simply not true. They robbed DRP and now are robbing the world out of the truth.

  22. @adhurey, Ekaloa, Yaameen and all the other retards who are gloating against MDP and supporters of the not being able to "digest" anything. This is not a football match where you cheer for a team.

    Our "indigestion" is not just for our rights and the rights of our children, they are for you and your families' well being as well.

    The tools of freedom, democracy and free speech are used for propaganda by people who just have their political aims on the radar. Maldives has a lot of susceptible people like you unfortunately, who will do their dirty work- no questions asked.

    100% arrogance + 0% critical thinking

  23. Media is today no saint and the real watchdog as it is supposed to be!

    In today's Media, even an advertisement would not go well without some dirty trick be played to the eyes of the person watching! Consumer has to be mislead!

    The ad Dhiraagu has produced to promote its video calls: showing trick the boyfriend plays on his girlfriend (you are on pandoras guy ) by pretending to be sick when she calls on video is just one sickening example!

    So, Washington Post has fallen victim to Maumoon and his bandwagon!

  24. When desperate talks like this come out of the president's office, it is a sign that the governement is weakening. Calm down government! Learn to deal with the situation and don't over react to everything that comes out of the opposition side. We thought this government would learn from the mistakes done by the former administration and instead it is doing more mistakes.


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