Comment: Constructing the truth – CoNI and the coup, part one

This article originally appeared on DhivehiSitee. Republished with permission.

There are no facts, only interpretations.

– Frederich Nietzsche

When the allegation lacks substance or reality, nothing is required in response.

– Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI)

The idea that an objective truth can exist independent of political power is a myth dating back to Plato. On the contrary, truth and political power are intricately woven together—one cannot exist without the other. Instead of an ‘objective truth’, what becomes accepted as ‘reality’ is based on what those in power are willing to include as ‘true’ and what they exclude as ‘false’ in what they say and do about a given issue. While such power/truth relations are normally hidden from surface observations and casual scrutiny, the Report of the Commission of National Inquiry, Maldives is a document that blatantly demonstrates how ‘truth’ is produced in this manner and how the truth so constructed is used to exercise power and control over society.

It is CoNI’s conclusion that there was “No coup, no duress, no mutiny” in the Maldives on 7 February 2012. To arrive at this ‘truth’, the CoNI Report excludes all information it regards as false and includes only what it deems true according to preconceived notions and beliefs.  “When the allegation lacks substance or reality”, it states, “nothing is required in response.” How CoNI decided what ‘lacks substance or reality’ and, therefore, can be dismissed as not worthy of a response, is not explained. It is an arbitrary measurement, composed and set up by the Commission according to a standard that itself decided on, and which it decided not to make public.

Some statements contained in the report, however, do provide an indication as to the criteria used by CoNI to decide which of the 293 witnesses it interviewed were telling the truth, and which of them were judged as simply repeating ‘hearsay’ or enthusiastically relaying fantasies of a confused mind susceptible to suggestion.

Take, for example, the following statement:

Just as a question has no evidential value unless the person answering accepts or adopts the fact contained in the question, allegations have no evidential value just because someone has articulated them repeatedly.

What does this confused and confusing statement mean? If a question is being asked in order to establish the facts of an event, why then does the question itself contain a fact that the answer must first accept for it to be considered valid? Is CoNI saying that a decision was made from the very beginning to exclude as invalid all the answers that did not first accept ‘the fact’—as stated in CoNI’s findings—that ‘there was no coup’?

How much evidence was excluded on this basis? Is this the grounds on which the evidence of Nasheed’s wife, Laila, for instance, was given no consideration by CoNI? In an investigation of the validity of Nasheed’s claim that he resigned under duress, fearful not just of a public bloodbath but also for the safety of himself and his family, would the evidence of his wife not be essential to verifying his explanation?

It is not just Laila’s evidence that seems to have no place in CoNI’s deliberations. Although one of the appendices to the report provides a list of 49 pieces of documentary evidence submitted by various witnesses, there are only seven such documents it refers to as having ‘comprehensively reviewed by the Commission’.

Of these, what it relied on most was its own Timeline, published on 6 June 2012, over two months before it completed its deliberations. [The English translation of the Timeline published on the CoNI website on its official letterhead was copied verbatim—except for an occasional substitution of a word here and there—from Dhivehi Sitee with neither permission nor acknowledgement, or shame for that matter.]

According to the CoNI Report this Timeline, published prior to interviewing some of the most important witnesses to the events of 7 February, was the truest document of them all. There was nothing anybody could say to challenge its version of events, for it contained CoNI’s ‘truth’.

It must be noted also that despite the many alternative scenarios which have been produced internally and internationally, there has been virtually no challenge of any substance to what was recorded in the Timeline.

Indeed. Not when all evidence that was excluded from the Timeline remained excluded as unworthy of inclusion.

This is an analysis of some of the most blatant exclusions of fact the CoNI Report relied upon to construct a particular ‘truth’ about the events of 7th February 2012. It is part one in a series of in-depth analyses of the CoNI Report which, if accepted in its current form as ‘what really happened’ in the Maldives on that day, renders the 2008 Constitution of the Maldives meaningless and creates the conditions in which the illegal overthrow of a government can be deemed legal.

Azra Naseem holds a doctorate in International Relations.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


13 thoughts on “Comment: Constructing the truth – CoNI and the coup, part one”

  1. So true. CoNI was a blatant whitewash that ignored the victim, evidence and the opinion and proof. An inomprehensible whitewash!

  2. article starts off with asserting that there are no facts. ends up saying coni left out the facts.
    this sounds more like philosophy rather than law. it isn't the coni report that is the problem in that case, but how we come to any judgement or belief whatsoever. questions the entire subject of law and how it is practiced. this is not legal analysis.
    i think the commonwealth and un appointed observers/advisers are more objective and more qualified than azra is at this matter.

  3. Dear Azra, Is Wthis the analysis you could come up with? Im sorry but where did you get your doctorate, by the way?

  4. The so called CoNI Report is in accordance to .... "Faathumage Ismail ah fenunu goiy"

  5. Excellent piece of writing and analysis. Look forward to the next parts.

    Other than the Sri Lankan lawyers' analysis and this article on the report, is there anything else out there that could pass as better analysis? Maybe you yourself are planning to share your insightful thoughts with us? I suppose all the baghee doctors in government are the true intellects huh? Why do you bother getting up in the morning, you're a lost cause 🙂

  6. @kareem

    Notice the sentence in bold proclaiming 'Azra Naseem holds a doctorate in International Relations'

    That's the whole point. In certain countries, having a Phd is snobbery, not something people talk about.

  7. Nasheed's childrens statements are also missing etc etc...the coni report is the manufactured truth based on evidence and is as close to the truth as we can get..we will never know the truth in its entirerity because in this country where people are completely sold out to one side or the other the 'truth' will be manufactured and will never be accepted by all ...the author and many like her can continue to use their academic jargon and try to write as if they know something coni didnt know..or try to show how clever they are with the use of language or by their apparently super ability to intepret things but it does not add anything new to the table anymore. As if a three part analysis is going to bring to make a difference. She would be better off using her skills and knowledge to move forward with the country..There can be thousand versions of the same story, it really is time to rebuild the country.

  8. There is not any sense to continue talking (and walking). It's all a big bad joke, like everything what is called judiciary, or justice, or judges, or courts, or investigations in Maldives.
    All meant only to cheat the common people, to keep them calm. Ultimately, of course, they shout at us for being bad Muslims if we do not accept all that "authority".
    Well, all of it : f*** off, I don't accept such authority. Be it from police, courts, sheikhs and mullahs. Drop dead, I want to get rid of your backwardness.

  9. The so called CoNI report was a mockery, a scam and a hopeless whitewash.
    I was a waste of time, and people's money.

    Agree with @umar, a very well written piece! Looking forward!

  10. Great work Azra. The report was a whitewash. Any inquiry establishes the parameters and this was done by people who are pro-regime.This is done at the very beginning of any inquiry. Those who establish these parameters have absolute power over the findings, to construct the 'truth'. Thus the many questions not asked and the many testimonies not considered. And Haneef, what is it you have against people who are articulate and academic? Is it threatening? If so I suggest that you stay away from public forums such as this. Thank you Azra, you have done a great job. Look foward to reading more of your work.

  11. Great work CoNI. This article is a whitewash. Any credible analysis establishes the parameters and this is being done by known MDP propagandists. This parameter-setting should be done by the publication before publishing any article.

    Those who establish such parameters have absolute power over what is published on their website in order to construct the 'truth'. Thus the many questions not asked and the many opposing views are not considered. And Agangatha Mithuru, what is it you have against people who are not so articulate nor so academic? Is it threatening? If so I suggest that you stay away from all public forums.

    Thank you CoNI, you have done a great job. Look forward to re-reading your report to my grandchildren.

  12. 'tsk tsk' mustve gotten an ipad and an orange from Selvam to be such a tireless bootlicker.

    May your grandchildren be the ones to stare down the rifle sights as their fingers squeeze the trigger and punish you for your betrayal of the Maldivian people.


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