Comment: “We might be tourists but we are not blind or deaf”

Open letter to the Honorable Dhivehi people.

Dear all,

This letter is written with plenty of love and respect for you, your culture and your country. I am writing on behalf of a group of university professors that have visited many times your country, a group of people from the international university community that feels very sad for what is happening in Maldives and have their heart shred into pieces.

It is terrible for us to see what is happening to such nice and friendly country. Brothers against brothers, brothers killing brothers. We use to say that you where very different from Sri Lanka as every time we went to Dhivehi land, those 190 islands surrounded by a blue sea, we traveled also to old Ceylon, always in war, always in troubles, the population always in fear.

The Maldives was different, although we knew that human rights were not respected, nor did free expression exist. We knew that a dictator was controlling the country, we knew that poverty was present, we knew that the country did not have a proper hospital and no university. For us this was very strange — we knew that people were in prison, we knew of families losing their land for not being princes of the regime.

We might be tourists but we are not blind nor deaf.

We might stay in upscale resorts but we have a heart and we are not stupid. We made plenty of friends, people that came to visits us in Europe and others that could not afford to travel, but showed interest and sympathy to us every time we surfed the Maldivian blue waters. Some of these people are apparently now in jail.

What is happening? The news in Europe says you have dismissed your elected President and a new one is in power since a few days ago.

This is not possible as a new President cannot appoint him or herself and needs to be elected. I don’t think you had the time for that.

We all fear that you are back to dictatorship, black into the grey dark political clouds of the last 30 years. We are not even sure that this open letter to all Maldivian will be published, but we want to show that we are with you in this difficult moment.

Whoever will be in power, cannot be called President as he or she has not been elected.

It seems like your path to democracy has suffered a twist. Often it is like that in countries without a culture of respect for human life. The photos we get here in Europe makes us think about old times back here. If that is the case it is very sad.

We don’t know exactly what your situation is as the mails we get are very confusing, but it seems like plenty of blood has been shed lately. From Europe, at least from the university community, we want to say to all that fighting for democracy is worth it. Some of you may not understand it fully, but indeed democracy is the only way to go these days. Some of your Muslim brothers in north Africa know it very well.

May all the troubles end soon and may your country regain the wisdom that will allow you to continue to develop. No more blood should be spilt. No more dictatorship should take place.

Irwin Glass is a teacher at the European University in Barcelona.

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]


25 thoughts on “Comment: “We might be tourists but we are not blind or deaf””

  1. We now have a university. But we don't produce citizens who have the ideals of social justice. We produce corrupt, greedy, dishonest, people who can be bought for a small amount of money. They are willing to sell their motherland, family and values for a few rufiyaas. The Maldives needs international help. The Maldivian National University needs your help. Please help....before we blacken the clear blue waters that gave you so much happiness.

  2. Maldives National University is a little high school where underqualified high school teachers pose as lecturers and impose rote learning from 20-year old textbooks on students. The internet is censored and open discussion on academic topics is discouraged.

  3. Hello ignorant professor. Vice president Waheed got same amount of votes as President Nasheed. He was elected to assume presidency ahold the President leave office. Nasheed resigned and announced his decision at the President's office in front of the press. We do not know if he was blackmailed or coerced into signing the resignation letter. If so, he should file a case and hope for justice. At least all the judges in the current supreme court were appointed by him.All the jibes were picked by him and endorse d unanimously by his party MPs.

  4. Hello ignorant professor. Vice president Waheed got same amount of votes as President Nasheed. He was elected to assume presidency should the President leave office. Nasheed resigned and announced his decision at the President's office in front of the press. We do not know if he was blackmailed or coerced into signing the resignation letter. If so, he should file a case and hope for justice. At least all the Justices in the current supreme court were appointed by him.All the judges were endorsed unanimously by his
    party MPs.
    This is the first president who lost the office in this bizzare

  5. Dear Glass,

    Maldivian constitution says if our sitting president resigns, the vice president should take over.

    President Nasheed resigned and Dr Waheed (the then elected VP) has been sworn in as the president. This is the procedure to be followed as per our constitution.

    Just who are you to tell us who can or cannot be called our president?

    I wish you thought of volunteering at Maldivian National University instead of commenting on our internal political matters.

  6. Fareed is a typical Maldivian who is arrogant, cannot respect criticisms and/or honest opinions. This is how you people have alienated the well- meaning expatriates and Foreigners. Not all of you but many of you are like this- arrogant without really assessing what their real worth is.

  7. Mr. Glass,
    Thank you very much "we"/I appreciate you and your colleagues concern about the Maldives. I am very touched by your letter, it clearly shows how many international communities, groups and friends of Maldives and Maldivians are out there sticking out their head for us (Maldives/Maldivians).
    I truly hope that this madness of getting back to power will be over soon and we can go back to our peaceful life as you have described it.
    Once again my heartfelt gratitude to you and your friends.

    to bryam,
    bryam on Fri, 10th Feb 2012 10:17 PM

    Maldives National University is a little high school where underqualified high school teachers pose as lecturers and impose rote learning from 20-year old textbooks on students. The internet is censored and open discussion on academic topics is discouraged.

    I don't know you to judge you. Maldives might be a small, undeveloped, 3rd world country but it's not all what you described. By the sound of it, it seems like you either do not know the place or you have been mislead. In any case positive or negative you also concern about the Maldives and its people, otherwise why would you spend your precious time reading and commenting. Therefore, thank you as well.

    to Fareed,
    Fareed on Sat, 11th Feb 2012 12:08 AM

    Hello ignorant professor. Vice president Waheed got same amount of votes as President Nasheed. He was elected to assume presidency ahold the President leave office. Nasheed resigned and announced his decision at the President’s office in front of the press. We do not know if he was blackmailed or coerced into signing the resignation letter. If so, he should file a case and hope for justice. At least all the judges in the current supreme court were appointed by him.All the jibes were picked by him and endorse d unanimously by his party MPs.

    It might not be entirely false for me to say that I understand you but my brother the professor and his friends are not ignorant. He does not have the insight to the situation that you have neither do I, he and his friends merely expressed their concern in a form of a letter for which I think all the Maldivian should be happy. The international media is covering the story of Maldives in on its own way, so someone like our professor or even me who only has access to those news articles will not know what's really happening in the Maldives.
    I am no one to ask you anything but a countryman, I wish that you did not use the word "ignorant" in your comment.
    Thank you.

    P.S. a Maldivian living in Europe.

  8. Reading Dhivehi newspapers, English articles written by Maldivian journalists and daily talking with Maldivians, I recognises the words of a true Maldivian. I have serious doubts about this letter and 'Mr Glass'.
    First off all up to now, brothers did not kill brothers, no one got killed! Secondly, if a presidents steps down, a vice president takes over his job, that's what a vice-president is for! No foreigner calls this country 'Dhivehi land'. I even never heard a Maldivian say it. You made it up while you were writing your so called open letter (I believe).You say you visited Maldives as a tourist under Gayooms regime and visited local islands in the north and south ... at that time, that would be impossible since tourists were not allowed access to local islands. Finally, don't try to pretend Maldivians are fools by stating that they don't know what democracy is. They may have different views, since they have to find a balance between religion and democracy, but till now they did a very good at that and they sure are very much aware of what is going on and what is at stake. Again I have doubts about your identity. I don't believe you're a professor in anything and to me this article reads smells more like a cheap shot of propaganda rather than an open letter. IF I am mistaken, then my appoligies. In that case your just an ignorent person...

  9. One has to wonder why this man is not writing in his own name. Does he have an online profile? If so it doesn't appear to be searchable.

  10. Professor Glass, you have raised important points in your letter. We, the people of Maldives are at a loss as to explain the circumstances leading to the so-called "resignation" of the elected President, Mr Nasheed.

    Nasheed has said that he was forced to resign and there is growing evidence of this. Civil servants from the Presidents Office have recounted the last minutes of the President, whereby he was seen to be surrounded by 3 civilians, whilst drafting his letter of resignation.

    These three civilians were former MNDF Colonel Nazim, former policemen Fayaz and Riyaz. At the time, these three were ordinary citizens who held no government post or role in any capacity whatsoever. What were they doing in the President's Office, surrouding the President whilst he was seen to draft his letter of resignation?

    The first act of the new regime was to appoint 2 out of the above mentioned individuals to key posts. Former Colonel Nazim became Defence Minister, whilst former policeman Riyaz was appointed as the Commissioner of Police. It doesn't take much brain power to figure out that there is something wrong here.

    We, the people of Maldives need the international community's assistance in establishing exactly what happened on 6th February 2012. Until such time, there's grounds to believe that the new regime is unconstitutional.

  11. My respected made up professor writing to us let me ask you? Does democracy really exist or do it really work in reality. or is it just coverup for the ruling elite. The reality of the world today is capitalism. money = votes.

  12. I do not know who the writer is but his sentiments are sentiments expressed by all concerned - that is all of Maldivians who love our country.
    To be honest, we are a hypocricital country. On one hand, we say we are a Muslim Nation. On the other hand, there is so so much of evil in Male alone. A good ''muslim' Maldivian girl could be got for just a 100Ruffiyaa one card. Is this Islam?? On every resort, there is liquor sold?? Is this Islam or are we saying that for tourists to come to our beautiful country - we compromise our values?? Muslim boys serve liquor. Is that Islam??? During wedding ceremonies we demonise the couple??? Is that Islam?? Comeon us Maldivians. If we are true Muslims, we must not serve liquor in any resort or even Hulhule Hotel. Tourist will anyway come to our beautiful land. We must do away with SPAS?? I like to see what the so called Muslim Party Adaalath party really stands for. Also Mr. Qasim of the Villa Group who promotes so much of Islam has SPAS an liquor in his resorts. What are we talking of Islam. LET US BE GENUINE IN OUR HEARDS.

  13. @budhube: Democracy does exist, sometimes better sometimes worser however as seen it takes a lot of effort to make it work- and the Maldives are sadly not ready to make this effort for longer.

  14. There are a lot of comments here to be debated, that is for certain!

    IMHO I think that @budhube has made the most accurate one of all, as unfortunate as it is.

    The men behind the curtain, those who pull the strings are certainly the most dangerous of all, they control the money therefore the influence.

    Yet should it ever come to a true fight these same men scurry into the darkness to plot their next move.

    Be vigilant. Question the source and let you conscious be your guide as to the accuracy of statement. Teach your friends and family to do the same. Then debate with respect,good faith and true words.

    Again IMHO.

  15. Mr. Glass
    what happened when JFK was shot, Johnson was also sworn in on the plane without elections. These are procedures, but never the less if Mr Waheed want to have support from the population , he could ask for elections, if he thinks the support from his "friends" is enough, we will see .

  16. We strike soon on resorts to bring international attention to de Coup!

  17. all goes back many decades ago when the 30 year old regime denied basic education the communities in the islands, a majority op people you see in the government never went pass primary grade 7. Those who did were hushly pushed into jobs are airport, immigration, customs, etc. you know why it is difficult for a common Maldivian to understand and appreciate prevailing new taxation laws? In Maldives no school is interested in having an art stream, less than 100 students out of 8000 sat for history, geography, and literature. A few take economics but we have just a handful.
    ...apparently it seems we don't refer to history in the present scenarios because we were never taught history to an extent that many people still think Mandela is the president of africa. no one has done political science, not much have done economics and that's why you see the unrullyness all over from both sides of the coin.
    ...religious extremism started a decade ago and it has grown and expanded its ignorance everywhere. Today, some people dont take their children for vaccination, many productive educated women are kept indoors as housewives cum sex slaves because religion says so..child abuse and sex slavery are a product of this extremism which as in Egypt, pauses a great danger for the future. Lack of education to differentiate black from white.
    ...a bangladesh may have no education, dirty, filthy and poor. But they understand the value of money, for every penny and they know to get it, they must work hard whatever the job. Bangladesh economy booms today because of the 'bangalis' as we call them. The bangladesh who takes your garbage daily and you pay him us$7/= per month,is actually well off, happier than you who sit glued to indian soft porno movies, or run around destroying property
    ...whether this professor is genuine or just a guy writing from addu, it doesn't matter. Look around yourself and ask yourself how much good have you done for your wife, family, island or country. The toy iphone and ipads you show off everywhere, how much good have they done to you or your life?
    ...wake up brothers and sisters, two decades ago we laughed at somalia, congo, haiti, bosnia where people killed each other like animals, where corruption ruled and dictators prevailed. Its a pity we just joined the club.....if you knew history and read about seychelles (the no.1 tourist destination in 80-90s) and now beggers with no foreign currency nor industry,then you would realize what mistake we are all making

  18. You are correct @spectator.

    However to this day people are very suspicious about why/how JFK was shot.

    Official version of the story is a lone gunman and single bullet killed two men...

    Then the lone gunman was shot dead,while in police custody, before he could be tried.

    Hmmm one has to wonder that perhaps JFK was shot because he would not resign, just saying.

    Even in a strong democracy power brokers influence from behind the scenes. It is important to question and to be able to question freely.

  19. Dear Prof Glass. It is refreshing to see that I am not the only foreigner in following the Maldivian drama. I had the oportunity to attend one of your conferences long ago in Geneva although we never met. It is sad to see some of the comments in this page, but Dear Professor I'afraid they are product of the ignorance. I have sometimes the feeling foreigners love more the Maldives than some locals. I have probably more information about the situation the other foreigners as I used to have a busiiness in town and the situation is nit nice. Whatever people might say, the fact is that it was a coup d'etat. I'm try to find a way to get in touch with via the university and will give you more information. Regards - antonio

  20. Mr antonio (spain): you are very true... foreigners do love, Maldives more than Some locals... But I have to say I love my country ( Maldives) i always loved peace, and i am proud to be Maldivian too...Sorry too hear that you had business in Town,(it can't be good) In this situation... The only thing i want to say is, since 14th Jan 2012 to date, that country is running against Maldives Law... Everything that had happened was insane...the new government is a "Terrorist group"...People who betrayed to their country should be punished... I have no trust what so ever to those Police/Army and government anymore. hopefully by the time i go back to Male or Maldives it will be a new Democratically elected government...The videos and Pictures i have seen, it was a massacre and that is insane...

  21. Dictator Maumoon runs 30 yrs .Maldivens can be known, Maumoon is a dictator , 30 yrs we spend under his dictatorship. Now we have our freedom , tks to Nasheed. Even Maumoon supporters will agree for this. Nasheed is the person who brought democracy to our nation. We don't want one horse race anymore. Dr.Waheed is a puppet of Maumoon.

  22. There are errors in the other I sent - could you use this corrected one?

    I have never been to the Maldives but would very much like to go. It is as a believer in democracy that I am so concerned with what is happening now, like the other foreigners speaking here. I do not know how anyone who is reading and watching the news could see this as anything but a coup. Why would Nasheed be saying he was threatened if he stepped down voluntarily? However, it is my understanding that news is being censored there so what Maldivians really know must be questioned. All of you need to question why there is this censorship if nothing needs to be hidden.

    Mike confidently said, “no one got killed”, but it is my understanding people are missing; how can he possibly know? The truth will come out eventually but remember truth is the first casualty of war but let’s hope this does not turn into a civil war.

    As for Ibrahim, what you are asking will impoverish your country. I can understand as a devote Muslim you do not want to be around alcohol but if you ban it in resorts, likely 90% of the tourists will not come, especially after the unrest. 60% of your country’s revenue is from tourism. That would mean the country’s assets could be down 56%. Is that what you want for your country? Is it really so bad having non-Muslims drink there? How does it really effect you personally, given how much it benefits your country?

    Whether you ban it or not would not matter to me, though, in terms of my decision to come. Whether the Maldives is a true democracy with no censorship will. I would not want to come and have to give my hard-earned money to prop up an illegitimate leader of a military dictatorship, who is oppressing the people of the country that do not agree with him. Other tourists will no doubt feel the same way so what happens next will really matter.

  23. Thank you Mr. Irwin Glass;

    for your concern, and support.

    We have been ruled by a dictator for so long that most Maldivians found it difficult to use their newly found "freedom of expression" and rights on a good level.
    We who have been brought up in this, fear to speak out our minds, to accept what ever the government does, to not ask questions, we did not know that we had rights, rights to speech, rights to free thinking, rights to express our feelings.

    President Nasheed has been an example of how a true leader should act towards its people, unlike Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom.

    I as a citizen appreciate his efforts towards making Maldives a more independent free thinking country, where every person counts, he has done things for our economy that Maumoon has not been able to do, or lets say he did not do, He was a selfish man. citizens did not exit. We were just pawns in his chess game. Nothing else.

    After experiencing how a country should be governed, how citizens should be provided for, I really don't want to loose it all again, going back to those thirty years of darkness.

    This is not the middle ages any more, we are human beings, we have rights, we have a voice. and we demand our rights as citizens of Maldives. FOR AN ELECTION. Weather it be today or tomorrow. to deny our rights is to oppress us. No More Oppression.

    People who blame President Nasheed loves Ignorance, to some ignorance is bliss. But not to those who's eyes have been opened to how things really should be.

    I demand my right to vote for a democratically elected president, Give us back our rights our freedom. Stop torturing our civilians who demand their god given rights, your power will not frighten us anymore.

    There are only two ways, you give us our rights or we take them back. 🙂 no more submission to tyranny. NO MORE

    Those who say this is not a coup de'etat are really blind or they have advantage to gain from the coup. or those who have no knowledge and believe anything anyone will say!!!


Comments are closed.