Opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Ali Waheed has filed a motion without notice at the parliamentary national security committee to investigate the government’s decision to allegedly “resettle” inmates from the controversial Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba that houses terror suspects.
Speaking to press after filing the motion, Ali Waheed said that based on his information, the released prisoners would not necessarily be held in custody, but could be resettled in the Maldives.
“They are to be released among Maldivians and kept under watch in whatever way,” he said. “So while we don’t even have a proper jail and the society is drowning in gang violence and crime, the Maldivian government has reached the point where they are forming agreements with another country and creating a legal framework to bring in people from the jail that has the world’s dangerous terrorists and citizens aren’t aware of what’s happening. The People’s Majlis elected by the Maldivian people aren’t aware of it.”
He added that the government’s actions was “a bit too much”.
“Even if the Majlis is on recess, I ask that the committee look into this and take action against those culpable in this matter,” he said.
The DRP vice-president, who is also the deputy chairman of the national security committee, said the case should be investigated as a matter of urgent concern.
He called on the national security forces, Maldives Police Service and the Human Rights Commission to “stop this from happening.”
“And the Maldivian people should come out and stop this,” he said, adding that the government’s failure to seek the parliament’s opinion showed that personal interest was involved.
Moreover, it was regrettable that the government was planning to bring in “convicts” at a time when the social fabric “has been destroyed”.
“We can’t even properly control the convicts in this country,” he said.
Ali Waheed told Minivan News today that the DRP “fully supported” the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison, but bringing inmates to the Maldives poses dangers to the country.
Nobel Peace Prize
In December last year, President Mohamed Nasheed said the Maldives will receive prisoners released from the jail.
“If a Muslim does not have a place to live in freedom, we will help in whatever way we can. We don’t want anyone to suffer any harm. We know that the Maldives, in helping just three people from Guantanamo Bay, does not mean that either the Maldives or the world would be free of inhumane treatment,” he said. “However this jail, Guantanamo jail, is very symbolic.”
US President Barack Obama pledged to close down the jail in the first year of his presidency. However, the American government now foresees that the prison will be closed at the end of the year.
In his radio address in December, President Nasheed said investigations have cleared most of the detainees of any involvement in terrorist activities, while the others will be taken to trial.
He said most of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay were innocent people caught up in the war in Afghanistan, and that offering assistance to other nations in whatever capacity was “a national duty.”
DRP MP Ahmed Nihan told Minivan News today that Saudi Arabia, Philippines and many other countries have refused to take in any Gitmo prisoners.
President Nasheed was trying to “win the Nobel peace prize” and secure American financial assistance, Nihan suggested.
He further warned that the move could leave the country open to attack by terrorist groups.
Nihan said Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed was the one who came up with the plan.
Shaheed said today that it was important to remember that not everyone incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay prison was a terrorist or a criminal.
“There was once a Maldivian taken there,” he explained. “He is living here and nobody has attacked us.”
Shaheed claimed that DRP’s motion was driven by personal animosity towards him.
Last year, the DRP failed to pass a vote of no-confidence against Shaheed for his part in deciding to establish diplomatic ties with Israel.
On whether he advised President Nasheed on accepting the detainees, Shaheed said he did not have to answer that question.