Comment: Why are the Dhivehin suffering?

In a global world – where the struggle for power is a reality – how do we see the Maldivian situation from Europe?

The world has become a small place to live, indeed very small. Today’s communications can spread news very quickly and people are crying for freedom.

People are tired of being abused and mislead. People are also tired of not having a clear future for their children as uncertainty brings along misery and fear.

Fear, in its turn, brings along pain and a country, just like a sick person, needs to have its pain soothed or complaining, shouting and other similar reactions will take place.

We saw it in Tunisia with the Arab Spring – the Arab awakening – we saw it in Spain, where people went out to the streets to complain about the Government and the banking system, we saw it in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait.

We will see it in Morocco and in Israel. In this sense, the Maldives, a peaceful country up to this moment, is no more no less the confirmation to the rule.

But what is creating pain among the Dhivehin? What is making people cry and become furious? Where is the Maldives going to go? Will we see a Dhivehin spring?

Up until not so long ago the Maldives was a place where freedom of ideas did not exist. For instance, writing in a news site like this was unthinkable, impossible, unless you wanted your bones ending up in jail and your body buried underwater up to your belly.

Today, Maldivians and foreigners can speak. It is possible to write and to some extent there is freedom of expression. So, what is creating pain today?

The Dhivehin did not forget the last years of politics in the country, did they? Was silence the price to pay for peace? If so we all have to know that repression is never a solution. Repression is like a cork glued to the floor of a swimming pool: it might stay there for sometime but one fine day it will pop up to the surface with such energy that someone will get hurt. Why should the Maldives be different?

The present government has installed the right to speak, but is that enough to modernise a country and foster its development, with a economy so dependent on tourism and fishing? Did people forget where are they coming from? Is it a good idea to give an airport to a foreign country? What are really the development policies to make the Maldives a respectable country within the region?

The airport is in Indian hands, what will be next, the port? To whom would the government give the port? China? Would the country be better with the previous government? No, certainly not. So, what is happening?

So many questions to be answered, so many subjects to be questioned.

This article is not about governments, honestly, but is about people of the Maldives having a better life and a future for its people and their children. Governments are all different but alike. In Europe, for instance, it doesn’t make any difference who will be there next time. We really don’t care. If they are efficient, their colours do not matter to us. If they are crap – and most of the European governments have corruption on their shoulders – they will be sacked through an election. It doesn’t matter how many times they change until the lesson is learned. These are the rules of the game.

Maldives is seen by some of us who have been in your country many times, like a youngster. You have the energy to cry, to get angry, but not enough power to manage your immediate future, although you are very bright people. Giving the country’s structures to others will not help.

So what is making the Dhivehin suffer? With my utmost respect for the Dhivehin people, why are you fed-up and shouting? You Maldivians, to answer that question! What is causing unrest today? Can you still not talk? Are you still afraid? What is missing? Remember the butterfly effect in chaos theory. Be aware of inflexible movements, religious or others, that are the right hand of the repression or you will not go down the path of development.

May the country of the 1190 islands and its people stay above turbulent waters for a long time.

Carlos Swartz is a journalist and teacher at Lisbon University, Portugal.

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