| Main | News | Dhivehi | Editorials | Opinions | Open Forum | About Maldives | Downloads | About us | Links | 09 December 2005 07:52
Gayoom is unrelenting
Mohamed Nasheed (Anni), 10th August 2004
Mohamed Nasheed (Anni)
On the 13th August 2004 President Gayoom found his long reign under intense pressure. Large crowds at times numbering ten to twelve thousand took vigilance for political prisoners and detained activists in the Republican Square adjacent to the Head Quarters of the National Security Services (NSS). The vigilance started on the morning of the 12th August 2004 and it was brutally broken on the afternoon of the 13th August 2004. Mr. Gayoom ordered the crack down and arrested all the pro-reformers. The charge to arrest and the manner of it was extremely brutal. Limbs were broken, skulls cracked, young boys were rammed to the payment. Dr. Mohamed Munawwar was dragged from his home with his hands shackled to behind while being hooded. The Dr. was the former Attorney General to Mr. Gayoom. Many MP’s and prominent people were taken in similar fashion and are now being held in solitary confinement and in incommunicado. Hundreds of pro-democracy activists and underage children were initially taken to Girifushi, the National Security Service (NSS) training camp. They were blindfolded for more than 20 hrs at a stretch, while being handcuffed. They were tortured, ill-treated and abused. Women detainees were sexually harassed or abused.
After the crack down Mr. Gayoom unleashed his media spin doctors to justify his actions. Many attempts have been made to portray the demonstration as violent mob. But to no avail. Mr. Gayoom’s track record is just too tainted for his words to gain currency in the international community.
The Indian daily, “The Hindu” in its Editorial on 1st September wrote that, “For all his talk of political reform, President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has once again demonstrated a reluctance to loosen his absolute grip over the Maldives. Following a protest against his regime in the capital city of Male on August 12 and 13, President Gayoom proclaimed an Emergency and jailed several prominent figures in the country's incipient pro-democracy movement, including the former Secretary-General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, Ibrahim Hussein Zaki”. Going in line with the general understanding of the situation, Mr. Gayoom’s especial ambassador to India received a much downgraded welcome from the Indian establishment.
On the 7th September 2004, the European Union in a statement after their fact finding mission to the Maldives, again refuting what Mr. Gayoom has been relentlessly saying regarding the pro-democracy demonstrations. The leader of the delegation, Netherlands Ambassador Susan Blankhart, speaking on behalf of the European Union Heads of Mission, said, “The announcement of a state of emergency, and the subsequent mass arrests (including of many reformist leaders) seem to be a disproportionate reaction by the Maldivian authorities to what was a largely peaceful demonstration. These events have the potential to derail the reform process, which is at a crucial stage. The EU hopes that the government will press ahead with an open, inclusive, and thorough reform process, which will be the best way to ensure continued stability in the Maldives. EU will be paying close attention to developments."
Meanwhile Mr. Gayoom’s deeds and actions shows that he has no intention of complying with the very understandings and concerns of the European Union Ambassadors accredited to the Maldives and friendly regional governments to include the governments of India and Sri-Lanka. Mr. Gayoom is moving ahead with the interrogations of the detainees and attempting to obtain forced confessions. This is his regular pattern of dealing with his opponents or those citizens perceived to be independent thinkers and activists. This process of producing signed confessions will involve forcing many of the detainees to give statements under duress. He will then produce these statements in courts where his own decisions will prevail, as these courts are under his complete control. Given Mr. Gayoom’s track record we fear that none of the trials will be fair. The detainees have no access to legal representation and are held incommunicado.
This, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) states, is not a situation that they or for that matter any peace loving group, society, person can agree upon. MDP leadership functioning in the Maldives is silenced. In the absence of its leadership in the Maldives there is a growing tendency, much more than ever before, for the militant youth to take matters into their own hands. If this situation continuous Maldives can free fall into chaos and mayhem.
Suppression of the MDP is also having another far-reaching consequence. The small number of Islamists in the Maldives is now able to give leadership in hiding and will be able produce militant elements recruited from a hotbed of angry youth poised for a fight with the National Security Services.
The Maldivian Democratic Party can neither leave the Maldives to free fall into chaos and mayhem nor can it standby when the country can succumb to Islamic fundamentalism. The Government of Maldives needs to urgently normalise the situation by lifting the State of Emergency and restoring the fundamental rights of the people.
Simple announcements by Mr. Gayoom can not be taken as restoration of normality. The Maldives will have to in fact actually carry out the radical reforms. The people of Maldives are seeking to reinstate all the basic rights in full, most importantly that of the Freedoms of Speech, Assembly, Association and fair trials.
Mr. Gayoom’s on the other hand is determine not to relenting or relinquish any of his powers. The condition of most of the detainees arrested in connection with the demonstration is very poor. They are neither getting proper medical treatment nor legal representation. The detainees do not have any access to their families. Some of these detainees, due to their links with MDP and other reformists are more susceptible to maltreatment and torture.
The Maldivian Democratic Party feels that the present regime in the Maldives will not relent until we find an appropriate language to speak to them. MDP’s biggest fear, that Mr.Gayoom’s reform programme was just a ruse to buy time has been realised. The party has now no choice other than to seek to impose trade sanctions on the Maldives and to expel the Maldives from the Commonwealth of Nations. The international community and the Maldivian people will gain if all options are made available to terminate the continuing abuse of human rights perpetrated by Mr. Gayoom and his paramilitary apparatus.
© Dhivehi Observer 2004