On this day three years ago, on July 27, 2010, I cried in public, standing on the road, outside Maldives Police Headquarters.
I had gone to the police to report that the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) was sitting at work, on a public holiday, in a hastily called, irregular, unlawful sitting, putting the final stamp on a long-drawn conspiracy to hijack the judiciary.
It was, I now believe, the first major takeover in the coup that brought down the Maldives’ first democratically-elected President on Feb 7, 2012.
The station was on holiday mode and there was no one available to hear my complaint. The junior officers at the counter tried calling superiors but it appeared they had all been busy with the Independence Day, the day before, and were “off”.
There was none to speak to. I told the officers on duty that the Judicial Service Commission was sitting, at work, and that given two hours, they would bring down the state, and walked out. They stood, in silence.
I had tried all other avenues before, and had tried to reach President Nasheed through his office. The President was out of reach, out of Male’ on official ceremony with the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), on their territory, outside Male’ where he was Commander in Chief with the MNDF alone.
I was helpless to stop it, and I was convinced the state was collapsing. The Judicial Service Commission was at that moment sitting, colluding, to reappoint Gayoom’s judges en masse and approving them name by name, without check or inquiry.
No one else in the country appeared to know. The media found it all too fantastic. It appeared a Hollywood script, too unreal to be taken seriously.
I stood outside the Police Headquarters, frantic, tears streaming down my face from behind my big black sunglasses, trying to think what to do next, when Colonel Zubair came out of MNDF Headquarters saw me and came up. He saw me crying as I couldn’t stop the tears, though I pretended I wasn’t crying, and it just started pouring and poured more as I spoke. I explained my predicament to Zubair, who called up a police chief.
To cut short, it was explained to me that they understood my case but the police could not act to prevent the Judicial Service Commission from breaching the constitution, acting against the state, hijacking the courts, or robbing the people of the independent judiciary guaranteed by the constitution. These were the crimes I was reporting in my non-legal mind.
I walked back slowly, and went to Maanel, my haven, where I ran to breathe whenever the JSC stifled me, and where I went to vent and collect myself before running back when the JSC taunted, threatened, and attacked me as it often did in those days, in 2010. The JSC was just down the street.
I went to Maanel, left safe the documents I’d taken out from JSC that morning safe, and telling Wimla and Huchen what was going on, I left Maanel and walked back to JSC with only a water bottle, my phone and JSC keycard.
I was on my way to my first ever protest, having only been an observer, a reporter, in the years protesting had begun.
All along, I had been calling up media and contacts, telling people what was going on, and there was some public activity. A small crowd was already gathered outside the JSC when I went back.
I had gone that morning at 10:00am to find the Speaker, Abdulla Shahid, sitting at his place in the Commission, to the right of then Commission Chair, interim Supreme Court Justice Mujthaaz Fahmy, ready to complete the elaborate pretence of executing Constitution Article 285.
Until then, I had kept hope Abdulla Shahid was outside the matter, and despite all evidence to the contrary had kept my trust in him, and appealed to him, to bring an end to this awful charade that was about to kill the Constitution. I knew Abdulla Shahid understood constitution and democratic principles and standards like no other.
Seeing Shahid, I realised this was far bigger a conspiracy than I had wanted to believe.
I protested, inside the conference hall where the JSC continued with its treason despite my live commentary via my phone to a loudspeaker speaker outside. I protested until early evening when it finally ended.
By then there were MPs and a few lawyers speaking on the media, and the media was covering the protests outside JSC.
The people protested. And the JSC pretended to hear. After the protesters left, they returned the next day, and quietly carried out the crimes that haunt us today.
I stayed away on July 28, 2010, having informed the Commission that I would not be participating in any unconstitutional sittings or activities in the JSC.
It was Sheikh Shuaib Abdul Rahman, member appointed to the JSC from the Public by the Majlis, who protested on July 27, 2010, against the JSC’s breach of trust.
Sheikh Shuaib walked out in protest over the JSC approving the appointment of Chief Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed, despite the commission having evidence Abdulla Mohamed did not possess the qualifications of a judge required under Islamic Sharia.
Sheikh Shuaib then spoke tothe media and informed the public what had happened in the JSC that day, July 27, 2010.
I spoke with JJ Robinson of Minivan News a few days later about what I was seeing.
The rest is history, to be written and rewritten, as it comes.
Velezinee protests the reappointments in 2010: