Worrying political developments in Male’

Maldives is going through a phase of undemocratic gangsta-rule just when we need more democracy and more and fair treatment for the people. It seems we are taking huge leaps backward and the process is too strong to halt.

It came slowly but things are getting speedy now. First it was websites having to register with home ministry so that nothing untoward can be said against the authorities. At the same time former president’s (now a convicted terrorist!) case against detaining a judge was getting dust in the court because the govt. was not decided what to do with him. The decision to make him a terrorist only happened after Rehendhi flats in Hulhumale were awarded to state prosecutor and supreme court judges. Perhaps re-activating president Nasheed’s case and make a terrorist out him was their way of thanking the regime for the generosity.

Former president was a colorful character both loved and hated almost by equal measure by the population. He was loved for his amicable character honest talk and innovative style of leadership. He was hated for some of his liberal views which are too liberal at times (such as trying to cozy up to Israel when they were bombing Gaza..) and exclusives, sometimes autocratic style of governance most probably pushed to by party activists. Whatever he may have been, he was definitely not a terrorist and the political case against him was dispensed with in a very questionable judicial process which was just a political sham as declared by world bodies such as the ICJ and Amnesty International. What the government fails to acknowledge now is their stand that they are following the law doesn’t hold much water, since every dictatorship used the same language when repressing the people. Things like apartheid, colonialism and slavery were all legal at the time it was practiced and by those who practiced it. But that doesn’t mean it was right.

Just as everything is connected to everything else, the current political intrigues all connect with president Yameen and tourism minister Adeeb. There will be lots of questions they will have to answer to come clean through things that are going very wrong, such as the wrongful conviction and framing of a once political ally, the former defense minister Nazim. In a plot straight out from comics, the former defense minister was sentenced for 11 years for allegedly plotting to kill 3 people including Adeeb, the president Yameen, and police commissioner Hussein Waheed.

The ‘plan’ is a sad but elaborate hoax which is better suited for movies than real life. In the plan the subjects all have nice pictures and proper names and even describes their ends in plain words suitable for laymen to understand the implications. The plan also connects all current government foes such as Villa group of hotels as accessory to terror and doesn’t even leave anyone out, even the religious extremists. The saddest part is that the ‘court’ accepted this hoax and sentenced a potential political rival to Yameen to kill his career.

And then there are the gangs… Even before Yameen became president there were allegations he was controlling some gangs in Male’. Notably Masodi gang was always mentioned by the opposition. Politicians are always labeled with this and that but there are worrying indications that these allegations have some weight in cases such as the notorious drug dealer Safa who was flown to Sri Lanka from jail and later he won appeal against his case being a fugitive in Sri lanka. We have something like 11 gangs operating in Male’ and its almost common knowledge that the authorities have failed to stop them. Gang wars happen daily in Male in full day light, despite Male’ being such a small place. Only last week we had 2 murders by gangs in Male’, one a Bangladeshi waiter was killed in his café’ and despite the gang being known, the police have not apprehended any gang member yet. Although they have searched a local parliament members residence for the murderer’s clues. The gang is known to associate with the said MP. The implication from the latest murder was that government decided to shorten business hours by one hour forcing the shops to close at 10 and cafes at 12. This hasty decision comes as opposition parties are holding nightly demonstrations against the government and will be seen as a punishment for the business community.

If all the above weren’t enough, worst is yet to come. The government has decided that they will use special powers to prevent demonstration starting from Saturday which means that all demos will be dispersed with no notification and as soon as it happens. This is a serious infringement on the right to protest and it appears that the government is seriously weak to handle any more pressure from the streets. They have failed to checkup on what was pointed out by the opposition as serious wrongs and seems to be on an unstoppable descent to electoral defeat in 2018 or some possible event even sooner.

Links:

http://minivannews.com/news-in-brief/home-ministry-opens-up-second-call-for-newspaper-magazine-re-registration-91854

https://raajje.mv/33750

http://www.vaguthu.mv/en/12853

http://www.icj.org/maldives-grossly-unfair-nasheed-conviction-highlights-judicial-politicization/

https://www.amnesty.org/en/articles/news/2015/03/maldives-mohamed-nasheed-convicted-terrorism/

http://www.haveeru.com.mv/news/58544

http://www.haveeru.com.mv/news/59861

http://www.dhivehisitee.com/judiciary/getting-away-with-murder/

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Gangsters rulez!

Less than 24 hours after the infamous gang leader (Chica) was released there were 2 incidents of violent crime directed against news paper workers just for covering the story. Now one wonders what is happening to this country? Are we in Mexico fighting the drug war? Despite our military spending which tops even the oil rich Kuwait and Nato member Turkey as a %age of GDP, why are our armed forces not capable of controlling this thuggery in the less than 2 square kilo meter island?

To answer these questions lets analyze the context.
The problem in Mexico is about money. Mexico is bordering USA which has a big affluent market for drugs which means money in billions. But here in Maldives that context is not there. Our ‘little drug barons’ are not dealing in billions. Compared to Mexican drug dealers the likes of Chika are pimps. But the problem is why they are so powerful. Why were some of them alleged to have been protected in the past? In the case of Chicka it was alleged he was the henchman of the then “brigadier general” (a comical title..) Adam Zahir. After the transfer of power from Maumoon to Anni that protection may not be there but still they are able to intimidate witnesses, take advantage of amendments to law which were made possible only after the transition to democracy, claim the right to remain silent and have the courts re-examine the whole investigation process to manipulate the charges etc..

In our Majlis debates frequent references are made to USA as a standard bearer of many things like process, protocols etc. But those who remark on those issues fails to acknowledge that USA has a very effective history of asserting their national interests over any other principle be it the judicial process, international relations or whatever. If the USA finds a person a threat to their ‘national interest’ anywhere in the world, they will not hesitate to snatch or kidnap, detain or even assassinate that person. That is all justified under their national interest. Coming back to Maldives such realization of threat to national interest does not seem to be evident. We have had our courts throw out cases against money launderers simply because a clause in the constitution did not explicitly spell out the word ‘counterfeit money”. We have also witnessed recently how a well known ‘drug dealer’ was let free after the court failed to find fault for lack of adequate evidences despite there being lots of questions on the case. The court in effect dismissed a high profile drug dealer on a technicality. If we are to do things the American way these drug dealers might not ever be sent to court if they knew courts will release them. They might even create a special court to convict such people. However the most effective way to deal with the drug dealers is the Chinese way.

The potential for violence lies in gangsterism as well as religious extremism. In the current situation in our country, we seems to have overlooked the first one which is proliferation of gangs and gang warfare. Many deaths were claimed (closer to 50) to the gang violence in the last 3 years and each time the public simply has to absorb the shock and grief of the event. Those in authority who are charged with keeping law and order simply are not doing their job and giving themselves medals and honors and fancy titles. The situation is so bad that many areas in Male’ are simply no-go areas during the night and when the gangsters are visible on the street corner. Many homes are simply virtual prisons for their inhabitants and the occupants of the house only venturing out after calling a taxi or maybe a group of friends.

The religious extremism issue is simply a trumped up issue by the authorities to divert the attention of their own culpability. The only real violence which can ever be attributed to religious intolerance in Maldives was the home made explosive device some dejected youths detonated in our “Sultan Park” injuring a few tourists. The incident happened because of the then government’s intransigence on a local issue which is the Himandhoo mosque issue. The locals only wanted not to worship in a government designated mosque, which the locals knew was constructed on a graveyard but the government sent the “military forces” for successive 3 years (Each time in the holy fasting month) to force the worshipers out from a modest small mosque they have constructed. In the last ensuing battle with the locals and the forces our country was injured big time when foreign media took up the issue and tarnished our country’s beautiful image as a peaceful country.