17th SAARC convention center at Addu
After months of preparation, Addu will today host the 17th SAARC summit with several world leaders from South East Asian countries. Talks on agenda include the usual India-Pakistan befriending talks, transportation agreements and the idea to use single currency throughout the region like EU. SAARC is generally perceived to be a talk shop for leaders from the region and there is talk (just as before!) of giving more teeth to SAARC secretariat to make SAARC more pragmatic.
An example of the disconnect between SAARC summit organizers and the people is the ongoing demonstrations in Addu in protest at the monuments erected for the summit which depicts engraves images and statutes which are offensive to local belief and customs.
Just as SAARC has an agenda of things to talk about, SAARC also does have a smaller list of things not to talk about. These include to be hush about human rights violations in the nearby Burma (the ruling military junta even changed the name of the country to Myanmar), not to mind the media restrictions freshly ordered in Sri Lanka and not to be too concerned about US violating Pakistan’s sovereignty by conducting military operations without Pakistani consent.
This time its the opposition political parties who are trying to spread fear, capitalizing on the political climate of the country and trying to destabilize the economy. The government’s inability to market their reform agenda is being exploited by the power hungry opposition which is claiming amongst many other things, that there has been travel warnings issued against the country by Britain. Nothing can be further from truth. Here is the exact wording of the travel advice issued by British Foreign and commonwealth office:
“Following a period of political unrest within the Maldivian Parliament (Majlis), there have been a number of political protests and demonstrations in Malé, predominately outside Government buildings and political figures’ residences. Social unrest is possible and there is a risk demonstrations might become violent. You should exercise caution and avoid any large political gatherings.”
This is no travel warning, its common sense and it applies well to locals as well as to British nationals to avoid large gatherings.
The US State Department also keeps a list of countries where their citizens are warned not to go. The list is here: and its doesn’t mention Maldives anywhere.
Israel, the West Bank and Gaza 06/20/2010
Cote d’Ivoire 05/12/2010
Congo, Democratic Republic of the 04/21/2010
Central African Republic 02/26/2010
Saudi Arabia 02/18/2010
However the extensive use of media to propagate these sorts of lies and fear propaganda will ultimately have its effect and the authorities are well advised to finish off this issue with incarcerating the local mafia bosses on whose behalf the opposition politics is advocating. The naivety of the government in allowing these corrupt Mafiosos has had its effect and much blood was shed in this small city of Male’ just because they exploited the liberal policies of the government for their own advantage. The government’s hand is in fact bound by its own liberal polices and sweet talk of democracy and values but where there is a need to show force it shall be used. As for the incarcerated mafioso’s, its common knowledge in Maldives for over a decade that Yameen is the acknowledged boss of local Mafia in Maldives.