Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pension and protection

Defeated dictator Gayoom is wasting no time securing his own interests. Following his loss in the country's first ever elections in 30 years that the dictator did not rig, Gayoom invited president-elect Anni to his office to discuss, officially, smooth transition. 

In fact he was trying to save face and protect himself from a population which for three decades he persecuted.

In a joint press-conference, Anni called Gayoom "one of the most important leaders of this country" and suggested that his government would not go on a witchhunt or dig the past. Thirty years ago Gayoom did the opposite.

Asia's longest serving dictator caused unprecedented misery to the family and in-laws of predecessor Ibrahim Nasir, after he took office in 1978. He framed Nasir's in-laws of plotting a coup attempt, threw them into prison, including women, and had them tortured, bound and dragged round the streets of Male. For details check out prisoner of conscience Luthfy's YouTube messages.

For years Gayoom stifled dissent by locking up dissenters and torturing them. One of the earliest of his victims was Sheikh Ahmed Adam. Most of the journalists involved in the short-lived opposition press of the early 1990s were jailed and persecuted. Just before Gayoom took office for this last term, his police beat to death a prison inmate, Hassan Eavan Naseem, and shot at point blank range others who protested against it. Although he was head of police, the dictator never apologised to the families of the victims. Indeed shortly after the incident, he promoted senior police officers in a function held to mark the anniversary of the armed forces.

It was Eavan's death that exposed Gayoom's torturous regime first hand to Maldivians and the wider world. In Male people took to the streets leading to the formation of the opposition movement. The dictator continued to lock up any opposition to his rule and it was only when the EU threatened to boycott representatives of his government from entering its territories that he relented. 

But Gayoom today does not want to remember any of this choosing, instead, to brag how he introduced a modern liberal democracy to this country. Never one to shy away from blowing his own trumpet, Gayoom is remaining true to his character even in defeat. He called his contribution "the greatest legacy anyone can give." No mention was made of the findings of the auditor general's recent report on Gayoom's spending of his office budget. When someone mentioned the tsunami funds the dictator is alleged to have stolen, Anni brushed it off and said it hadn't been proved. 

I'm not sure what the many who bravely stood up for their rights, enduring Gayoom's brutality in the process, will make of all this. 

Meanwhile Gayoom likened losing the election to losing a game: "Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose."

Anni is remarkable if he can forgive and forget Gayoom for everything he's done. It remains to be seen, however, whether the rest of the Maldivians, especially those that suffered and have still been unable to clear their names, will follow his example.

President-elect Anni seems to appealing to people to treat the fallen dictator with honour and dignity. Many would argue that Gayoom has none.


Anonymous said...

Thats why anni is the next president and not you. if you want us to re-enact on gayyoom what he did to us, what makes you any better than him?

echo said...

Gayoom by his own doings lost his dignity and honour long before losing this election. When he has none, we cannot treat him with any even though Anni may plead. No disrecpect to the president elect, Anni.

Anonymous said...

It is Anni's prerogative to forgive Gayyoom his own past grievances against the man. It is not Anni's place to ask others to forgive Gayyoom. Therefore, if justice is to finally prevail, those who have experienced the injustices of Gayyoom's regime must step forward and pursue due justice through the courts. However much Gayyoom's political party attempts to secure immunity for the man through the Majlis, he is not beyond the rule of law. Not any more !! So let us wait and see how independent, fair and accessible the current government makes our legal system for the common person!! Let us see if the scales on the MDP flag actually has any meaning !!

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