Saturday 24th Feb 2024
Dhivehi Edition
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The Collapse of Democracy in the Maldives

Historically, we Maldivians immensely cherish sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity, but in the past two years, we have run counter to our beliefs due to the obsequiousness of the government. Luckily, people of insight realize that the government is selling land and our sovereignty to India and issues wake-up calls, so a large number of Maldivians who firmly uphold sovereignty stand up and protest. However, recently the corrupt government deprives people’s fundamental rights under the constitution and ruthlessly tramples the long-tested democracy and freedom in the Maldives, which is really a setback to democracy.

Backroom deals: how we lose independence

Last April, Nasheed went to India for the Raisina Dialogue and met Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and referred to him as a “grandmaster of geopolitics”. Doval had an active role in instigating communal conflict in Sikkim and is the mastermind behind the conspiracy to absorb Sikkim into India. Indian media appraises this meeting assumes critical significance at a time when the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party has come under massive criticism from opposition parties and critics for allegedly letting India manipulate Maldives’ domestic politics.
On April 19, Defence Minister Mariya Didi met with the Chief of Naval Staff of India General Admiral R. Hari Kumar. They agreed to further boost cooperation between MNDF and the Indian Navy in the area of maritime information sharing, maritime domain awareness, bilateral maritime agreements, and capacity-building initiatives. At the same time, the defense minister brazenly highlighted that India-Maldives defense and security partnership was at its pinnacle, and thanked India for providing swift, unconditional support to the Maldives at all times. She also pointed out India submitted the detailed project report of the coast guard harbor and dockyard to the Maldives and that the review will be completed soon. The spokesperson of the Indian Navy said on Twitter that this visit identified new avenues for expanding the scope of bilateral cooperation in the defense and maritime domain. All these can prove that India is further strengthening its military controls over the Maldives

A dark day in the history: how we lose freedom of speech

Earlier this year, the government detained many protesters in an effort to rein in the growing India Out Campaign. In February, MDP drafted a bill seeking to criminalize the ‘India out’ campaign, which makes it a crime to carry out political activities against a particular country. On April 21, President Solih issued a decree banning the ‘India out’ campaign. In his decree titled ‘Stopping Planned Activities to Incite Hatred Towards Specific Countries Under Various Slogans’, Solih said the National Security Council had decided the ‘India out’ campaign posed a threat to national security. After efforts to get parliament to enact a ban on India out ran into trouble, Solih in effect chose a way to circumvent the parliament route to stop ‘India out’. It’s illegal and what the government is doing now actually violates people’s right to freedom of speech and assembly. Just as the coalition said in a statement, this marks a dark day in the history of the Maldives as for the first time a sitting president has actively abandoned his own people and protected the interests of a foreign military.

Police brutality: crack down on people to cling to power

On May 18, the opposition coalition launched another India Out protest in Malé right outside the party office building, which is also the first rally to be held in Malé after President Solih passed his controversial decree. At the protest, police violently evicted protesters. They chased a young girl to grab ‘India Out’ flags and used pepper spray to attack peaceful demonstrators. At least three people were arrested and two women were seen injured and taken to hospital. Police did not show arrest warrants when arresting protesters. Meanwhile, the police also threatened to beat up journalists who were covering the rally, even though they just waited on the pavement instead of joining in the protests. They were threatened just because they were doing their job as journalists.

These disturbing and depressing facts are revealing that the government wants to suppress protests rather than heed the legitimate demands of people. Governors demand unquestioning obedience from his people, just as India needs a pliant puppet government.