Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
All Maldivian staff at Meedhupparu, Raa Atoll, about 150 in all, have been on strike since 10pm Sunday night. They're protesting peacefully against the lack of implementation of the employment act by the management of the resort, discrimination against Maldivian staff, and poor working conditions, especially food and accomodation. Meedhupparu management at 11 am Monday morning had not met with the protesting staff. The protesters say they have informed the tourism ministry.
One of the Reethi Rah Resort protesters in handcuffs, with a gash below his right knee. Police denied using excessive force, but the human rights commission has said otherwise. According to the commission, police in riot gear used pepper spray and batons to break up a peaceful protest.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Maumoon Abdul Gayoom is in a marketing overdrive not only to sell himself to the Maldives electorate for a staggering 7th term in office, but also to the committee that will award the coveted Nobel Peace Prize this year. After causing 30 years of human rights abuse and environmental degradation, Asia’s longest serving dictator is now demanding international acclaim for what he and his family regard as exceptional contribution to the advancement of the environmental cause and human rights.
Maldivians will find it incredulous that the Nobel committee can even consider Gayoom for the prize but there is reasonable ground to believe that they actually might laureate the dictator. Firstly, Gayoom’s foreign ministry team, headed by his daughter Dunya Maumoon, is arguing that it was Gayoom who introduced the idea of environmental rights as a human right to the world, and this concept has been gaining support among international developmental circles. Secondly, the Nobel Peace Prize has never been awarded to anyone in South Asian, a region comprising a sixth of the world’s population, and the organisors may well want to broaden laureates geographically. With co-ordinated effort by the foreign ministry, unscrupulous diplomats in South Asia, and perhaps even a Maldivian environmental NGO hastily put together for the purpose getting Gayoom laureated, the prospect does not seem so inconceivable after all.
Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in the 1980s embraced the environmental buzz sweeping the world, not really taking it to heart but regarding it as a means of earning international praise and aid, most of which is said to have been pocketed by his buddies with whom he ran the country.
Gayoom’s development policy has never in three decades ever seriously considered environmental impacts. For example, he has dynamited the fragile coral reefs of most of the country’s 200 inhabited island to build artificial harbours, and carried out dredging to reclaim land for the growing population. Gayoom also has a habit of building expensive artificial islands to move the population when there are several large island villages with perfect natural harbours. And, the dictator has resisted calls to protect threatened marine species such as sharks; shark teeth, for instance, are still allowed to be sold in souvenir shops even though ordinary Maldivians have long protested.
Moreover, Gayoom owns a fleet of 30-50 vehicles on the two-square kilometer capital of Male, as well as several speed boats for his personal transport, and can accurately be described as the biggest polluter in the Maldives.
In an article published in the International Herald Tribune Gayoom goes to lengths to market himself as a champion of the environment, deriding world leaders for appearing “content to allow countries like the Maldives to disappear beneath the waves, while they continue to make a deeply unethical trade-off between human lives and rights on one hand, and economic growth.” Gayoom, while criticising others, fails to realize the neglect by his own government in three decades to meet the basic needs of his people. As much as 60 percent of the Maldivian population has no access to adequate sewage disposal or, indeed, safe drinking water.
When the 2004 tsunami struck the Maldives the dictator downplayed its impacts on national radio and TV without checking on the plight of the people first. Later, when it emerged that several islands, most of which had had its reefs dynamited by Gayoom, were irreparably damaged, he used the worst natural disaster in the country’s living memory to get unprecedented foreign aid. Four years later, nobody has a clue where all the money went but most of the displaced tsunami victims are still in shoddy temporary shelters.
Gayoom’s human rights record is even worse. Ahmed Shafeeg, a respected historian who was jailed and tortured by Gayoom for writing unsavoury comments about him in a personal diary and sharing them with friends, estimates that the deaths of more than 100 people may have been caused by the regime. There are several well-documented cases of prisoner abuse, far more shocking than anything that ever emerged out of Quantanamo, in what can only be described as a culture of torture. As head of police Gayoom knew of the abuse and, indeed, may even have ordered it to force would-be opponents into submission.
One of the earliest opponents of Gayoom, Ahmed Adam, the dictator’s classmate in Egypt, died from years of torture. Madulu Ahmed Waheed, a brilliant writer of the now banned “Hukuru” magazine, which openly criticized Gayoom in the 1990s, didn’t die , but years of abuse in police custody and prison has reduced him to a state of autism. Today, Waheed can be seen walking on the streets of Male, mostly in Machchangolhi, seemingly unresponsive to anyone or anything.
The 2004 beating to death of Hassan Evan Naseem by Gayoom’s police and the point-blank shooting of unarmed prisoners who protested against the murder are also well-documented. Custodial deaths have been happening even as late as 2007, but inquiry by the shameful human rights commission, which comprises of Gayoom’s friends who pretend to be independent, have always cleared the dictator and his regime of wrong-doing. Of the members of the presidential commission which investigated the murder of Evan Naseem and others in prison, Aishath Mohamed Didi and Mohamed Nasheed were silenced with ministerial posts. At present they are the most fervent defenders of Gayoom.
Instead of buying Gayoom’s paltry propaganda, the international community should be helping Maldivians send Maumoon Abdul Gayoom to Hague, for crimes against humanity.
If you’re as outraged as I am about Gayoom’s nomination for the Nobel Peace prize, write to Professor Gair Lundestad, Director, Norwegian Nobel Institute. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org
You may also want to sign a petition against the nomination
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Filthy rich Gasim has the resources, the people, and the willpower to get the job done. Yes, he may employ questionable methods to achieve his goal, whether it means buying parliamentarians or voters themselves. But nobody can argue that his chances of success are very high indeed. As much as half the Maldives population may have benefited directly or indirectly from his health handouts or educational grants. Now, Gasim is effectively asking them to pay him back by voting for him. On the positive side, he's less despised than Gayoom, has more vision, and has qualified and experienced people working on his campaign.
2)Maumoon Abdul Gayoom
Regarded by most Maldivians as a washed out dictator and an object of ridicule, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, nevertheless, thinks of himself as smart, handsome, young at heart, and loved by the people. This man continues to use state funds, TV, radio, and even the national football team for his campaign. He still has control over the armed forces, and has his stooges as Island Chiefs and Atoll Chiefs although the level of their influence over ordinary islanders has diminished somewhat. If Mohamed Amin modernised the Maldives through education and social change, Ibrahim Nasir continued the gains by laying the foundations for the country's greatest foreign exchange earners: tourism and fisheries. Gayoom basked in the results of the work of his predecessors but lacked the vision to build on it. On the positive side...no I can't think of anything good to say about him!
Gayoom will be remembered as the corrupt dictator who tried to crush every attempt by the people to bring democracy; the man who sanctioned the torture and killing of defenseless Maldivians; the advocate of child sexual abuse; and, most important of all, the bad cricket player.
Anni shone in the early 90, a true radical, unafraid to take on Gayoom's cruel and corrupt dictatorship to fight for democracy and justice. His work to expose Gayoom's dictatorship to the wider world is also commendable. But his misguided pandering to the religious right is downright shameful. He has ignored the role of women in the opposition movement, and in the formation and day to day running of MDP; gender equality is not part of either his "Clean Maldives" or his "Other Maldives". He lies when it suits him, patronizes ordinary people, and finds it hard to listen to anyone who disagrees with his views.
MDP today is a fragmented movement that has lost the ideals it stood for, ideals which were rooted in a widespread desire for democracy and human rights. Lately, Anni has taken to harping on Gayoom's positive contribution to the country and insists that the dictator can run for a seventh term in office, even though the amended constitution limits leadership to two terms in office. In return, Gayoom's apologist, information minister, and hearty blogger Nasheed has said the government does not consider Anni's sentence for petty theft a disqualification for his presidential bid. All very cozy indeed, but Anni may only be joining the enemy to fight Gasim.
One of the first casualties of Anni's "dictatorship", Ibra is a brilliant orator who is slowly and steadily winning the confidence of the public. His unwavering contribution to amending the constitution, a process which he rightly called the slow, systematic stripping of Gayoom's powers, must be lauded. Unfortunately, like Anni, he never found the right balance between the contradictory ideologies of the religious right on the one hand and human rights on the other. Ibra also probably doesn't have the finances to push an aggressive campaign to get himself elected.
I really liked this man, as he stood for liberal ideals such as the freedom of religion, a fundamental human right. He stood up not only against Gayoom, but also extremists, something Anni and Ibra were too spineless to do. But he's also said to be a bit of an elitist and out of touch with ordinary people. Lately he's been heard a lot on radio and has reportedly built himself quite a fan-base. Nevertheless, his campaign, like Ibra's, just isn't aggressive enough to win a substantial electorate at this point of time.
So what does the future hold for us?
As things stand I predict a close win for Gasim. This will get Gayoom out, but will leave the country in the hands of unscrupulous, capitalist who will not only control its wealth and its parliament, but will also by the country's fledgeling media.
There's a way out, however, and that is for Anni, Ibra and Hassan join forces. If they launch a joint campaign, have elections pushed back to December as Ibra suggests, they may, just may, win the hearts and minds of the Maldivian public, if not fill their pockets.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Monday, February 18, 2008
When Hassan Saeed and co resigned from Gayoom's government MDP suporters, who had only the day before heckled them at a debate organised by the newspaper Haveeru, couldn't hold back their joy. But when Saeed's growing popularity became a threat, MDP members began to call for Saeed to publicly apologise for his actions while he was part of the regime, a demand they never bothered make on their own president and vice-president.
Mohamed Munavvar and Ibrahim Hussein Zaki in their time with Gayoom opposed all democratic reforms and, less than a week after police murdered inmates of Maafushi prison, supported the dictator, then also head of police, in his bid for a fifth term in office.
Accusations of corruption leveled at the two have never been answered satisfactorily and it should be noted that Munavvar is the architect of the flawed constitution currently taking so much resources and time to ammend. To my knowledge neither have said sorry in public for anything they've done while with Gayoom. After Sandhaanu Zaki dramatically shouted at Munavvar, at his MDP leadership campaign, that he was responsible for the online editor's years of torture and suffering, the former attorney was forced to come up with with a half-hearted explanation. Apparently, Gayoom forced him to do all the bad things he did in office, while he was fully responsible for all the good things. In a laughable early speech at an MDP rally Munavvar blamed Gayoom for the constitution but took the credit for himself for creating the law school.
Unlike the New Maldives trio, the Old Maldives duo did not resign from office. They joined MDP when they were sacked by Gayoom and had no other option.
When the two made their way into the inner workings of MDP, the party had an indisputable command over the vast majority of Maldivians. But under their power, that command has diminished, the party has lost many of the key persons who helped to set it up, and MDP today is a fragmented entity given to emulating Gayoom tactics on the populace of the Maldives. The latest, the ridiculous Arumaaz trips, are a case in point.
That MDP couldn't come up with a decent opposition figurehead of its own to lead Maldivians into a post-Gayoom era has meant they have over-relied on the dictator's discards, which may have cost the party irreparable damage.