Maldives

Maldives’ State of Insanity III: to be rid of

The Maldives’ ‘State of Emergency’ is fast becoming a distant memory. France, tragically, had reason to declare a real one on 13 November. It opened the eyes of many to the circus that Yameen called a State of Emergency in Maldives. Others, however, saw the Parisian calamity as a chance to ‘mock’ MDP opposition which—in an inspired move—ridiculed the Gayooms’ state of ‘calm and normal emergency’ by inviting everyone to a tea-party. The Mad Hatters didn’t get the memo, and have never got the joke. Hence the following response to the Paris attacks from MP Dr Abdullah Khaleel, ‘the most educated man in the Majlis’:

*Kullikalhu [Sudden/Emergency BlackTea] is the name MDP gave to its tea party

The sniper who wasn’t

A few other things of note happened during the State of Insanity which weren’t discussed in Part II. One of them is the Sri Lankan saga. In October, shortly after the alleged assassination attempt on Yameen on 28 September, the Maldives government arrested a Sri Lankan man, Lahiru Madhusanka, in connection with an alleged plot to kill Yameen. Mr Madhusanka was, according to the Yameen government, a sniper. This is at the height of Yameen’s paranoia, when everyone was out to get him. Turned out Mr Madhusanka was more interested in snappers than he was in being a sniper—he is, according to the Sri Lankan authorities, a dried fish seller. Sri Lanka has long had a love affair with Maldivian dried fish which they call umbalakada. All poor Madhusanka wanted was to supply umbalakada to Sri Lankans who love it passionately as a great delicacy. Instead, he is in prison, suspected of trying to kill a president. Maldives also, falsely according to Sri Lanka, claimed Madhusanka is an ex-army man, managing to offend not just the government, but also the army in one single move. Madhusanka’s treatment was not the only thing fishy about Maldives’ relations with Sri Lanka during this period. The country’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Zahiya Zareer, was summoned to a dressing down at the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry after it emerged that Maldives had acted against Sri Lankan laws in arresting and removing from the country Maldivian citizen Ahmed Ashraf, a.k.a Shumba Gong.

Shumba the Social Media Lion/King

A little backstory on Shumba is worthwhile. Shumba was a ‘social media king’, a boy-monarch who ascended to the throne shortly after the February 2012 coup, while he was only about 15. From his room in Sri Lanka he campaigned tirelessly on Twitter for the beleaguered Maldivian democracy, gathering tens of thousands of followers. His volumnous output contributed to MDP’s activism, that is, until Adeeb staged a takeover and acquired Shumba as an asset for the Yameen regime. [How much Adeeb paid for Shumba is not yet known.] Once Adeeb acquired Shumba, he was as fierce in attacking MDP as he had been defending it. Most people would have forgiven Shumba for his ‘defection’—after all he was only a young boy preyed on by people using him to their own advantage—if not for the callousness he displayed in talking about Ahmed Rilwan’s abduction. Shumba made many claims about Rilwan’s fate that were horrendous and painful to see and hear. People’s sympathy for him ran out quickly. He continued on the path paved for him by Adeeb’s money nonetheless. And, when everyone else Adeeb bought were abandoning him in their hundreds, Shumba stayed put, defending Adeeb and live Tweeting his own arrest until his hands were cuffed. Shumba was taken by the Sri Lankan police, duped into doing so by the Maldivian government which claims Shumba was in Sri Lanka illegally. Even if he was, no due process was followed: police entered his house, took him, and handed him over to the Maldivian authorities who then removed him from Sri Lanka and transferred him straight into prison.

Like the man who acquired him as a social media bot, Shumba has not been seen since. Just past his eighteenth birthday, Shumba the Lion is in prison for roaring his support for Adeeb in defiance of the president’s unspoken, but loudly heard, edict that in today’s Maldives there is no bigger crime than liking Adeeb more than one likes Yameen.

Zahiya’s Sri Lankan dressing down

So the Sri Lankan foreign ministry summoned Maldives High Commisioner to Sri Lanka, Zahiya Zareer, for a dressing down. ‘Zahiya Miss’ was once an inspiration. She taught thousands of women like me to love the English language; and, generally tried to make decent well-behaved women out of the many unruly girls who spent a good part of their lives in Aminiya School. These days, however, Zahiya is better known for spending her time playing cards with senior members of PPM, and wasting years of teaching excellence trying to cover up, and mop up after, the many lies of the Maldives foreign minister.

The Sri Lankan foreign ministry did not just give her a dressing down, they stripped her naked in diplomatic terms, issuing a public statement that expressed horror at how Maldives had abused years of good bilateral relations and embroiled their security forces in high drama aimed at nothing other than protecting Yameen’s rule. The statement made Sri Lanka the first country in the neighbourhood to openly censure Yameen’s shenanigans and authoritarian crackdown on dissent.

Clearly India is not really all that interested in democracy in the Maldives. It chose ‘stability’ over democracy in 2012, and is continuing with the same policy under the current government. It is hard to say whether Sushma Swaraj is buying her Maldivian counterpart Dunya Maumoon’s many lies. Take, for instance, the whopper she told Ms Swaraj on Monday while in Delhi to ‘apprise her personally’ of the Gayooms’ carry on during and since the State of Insanity. For Dunya, ‘personally apprising’ means putting a very personal spin on reality. The van allegedly found outside Mulee Aage with a ‘suspected device’ on it thus became a petroleum truck with two sticks of dynamite. By the time Dunya completes her personalisation of the facts, the police may turn out to have caught a Sri Lankan man with a backpack full of dried fish and a fistful of matches about to light the sticks of dynamite and blow Yameen up to high heavens.

By the way, India is making a huge foreign policy mistake ignoring facts on the ground in Maldives. This autocracy is not going to result in stability for the Maldives because people will not stop agitating for democracy. And, it is an autocracy that has a pact with the Saudi Kingdom to allow the uninterrupted spread of Wahhabism until it is not just the dominant, but the only, ideology Maldivians accept as ‘true Islam’. Surely this is not the neighbourhood India fancies for itself?

The impending murder of Adeeb

As the grand finale to the long-lasting effects of the short-lived ‘State of Emergency’, the Yameen government is going to impose capital punishment on Ahmed Adeeb. The government has, in its record MVR 27 billion plus budget–passed by the PPM majority in Majlis without so much as a glance at the opposition’s many valid objections–has set aside millions to end the moratarium on the death penalty. Around MVR4 million has been budgeted for the process, building a state of the art execution chamber, and also to build new solitary confinement units (and quite possibly acquiring waterboarding equipment and refresher courses for Police on methods of the Spanish inquisitors too).

Home Minister Umar Naseer, a.k.a Umarnator, is rubbing his hands in glee. He has said he is waiting for the opportunity to implement the death penalty, because it is what God wants us to do. Umar would fit right in with the Islamic State. Sadly for us, he wants to stay put in Male’, and have his own little IS Caliphate at home. With each passing day Adeeb is looking more and more likely to be Yameen’s first legal execution.

Under a new rule by the Supreme Court, anyone representing Adeeb will be barred from practising law. Many of Adeeb’s lawyers immediately abandoned their client (and the law) to get into bed with the Supreme Court Justices faster than you can say Tanya. Few, including Hussein Shameem, however, have stuck with his client. Shameem has warned everyone the State is going after Adeeb with a lethal injection. There is no denying Adeeb’s corruption, his lavish lifestyle and access to endless cash before he fell out of favour with Yameen bears evidence to this. And, despite all the claims that Yameen and his cronies have made about an assassination plot, there has been no evidence—or charges brought—against Adeeb or any of his associates in relation to those claims.

It’s all about money, the millions of US dollars gone missing from the MMPRC under Adeeb’s watch. Over 70 islands have been sold/rented to investors and there’s no trace of the millions paid for over 40 of those 70 islands. Yameen is angry, not because the money has been stolen from the people—that is routine, everyday business for this government. The purpose of its existence, to be more precise. No, the problem is Yameen doesn’t know where the money went. As far as he is concerned, it has been robbed from him personally. That is a crime; the crime. Protecting Yameen, the Gayooms, and their interests is what the entire state apparatus is devoted to.

What must not be forgotten as the state gets ready to kill the president’s ‘fondest VP’ are these facts: the judiciary is a tool of the government; Adeeb has been wrongfully imprisoned by the State; and, he is being denied legal representation and all due process. If we stand by and let the State—or Yameen acting as the State—murder Adeeb, we will all have blood on our hands.

The crime of prayer

To those who believe in the power of prayer, I would say #PrayForAdeeb, but that could land me in prison for incitement to hatred or for encouraging criminal activity. Yameen, who has had visions of people coming after him with all kinds of arms and ammunition—sniper guns, snappers, bombs, sticks of dynamite, biological and chemical weapons—is now seeing prayer as the biggest WMD of them all. Every Friday, MDP members pray for Nasheed—held in arbitrary detention in inhumane conditions by the Yameen government since xxx this year. Yameen thinks praying for good things to happen to Nasheed automatically means wishing for bad things to happen to him. As if God has a finite amount of goodwill that can only extend to Yameen OR Nasheed, not to both. So Yameen, a ventriloquist talking through the puppet he recently installed in the Islamic Ministry, warned people to stop praying ‘or else’. MDP members decided to test out the ‘or else’, which turned out to be jail for the man who led the prayers last Friday.

Perhaps Yameen should arrange for an emergency meeting of the Majlis to pass a law that says anyone who attempts to go to heaven without Yameen’s prior approval should be jailed. Also, while they are at it, add a clause stipulating hell for anyone who disobeys Yameen. Majority of Majlis members would be happy to do it. Those Jariyaas will rubber stamp anything for money, as MP Eva Abdulla recently said so eloquently.

To be rid of it all #Minjuvaan

Killing someone for something they may not have done is not a thing that gives much pause for thought among the jesters of Yameen’s court. For them, the biggest cloud looming on the horizon is MDP’s nationwide protest scheduled for this Friday. People agitating for their rights, now that is chaos. Not the terrorising of an entire population with reports of fake bombs. Not the loss of millions of dollars in terrorism revenue due to the imposition of a State of Emergency in which everything was calm and normal. Not the fear in which people live, terrified their privacy, their freedom, and even their lives, could be taken at any moment, arbitrarily, whenever the state wishes. That is all okay, that is ‘stability’, imposed by the Gayooms (and approved by democracies like India). Go out on the street and demand the government, which claims to be for the people by the people, to be accountable to the people and the Constitution—that is uncouth, un-Islamic, ugly, and a threat to national security. That is what must be stopped at all costs.

Maldivian people had ‘peace and stability’ imposed on them at the expense of their freedoms for thirty years. They rejected it. More than half still do. Such ‘peace’ is not worth it. It must be gotten rid of. Yameen’s state of insanity may be permanent, but the subjection of Maldivians to it must end.

    2 comments

    1. Ameen

      Really interesting article. Covered everything that is happening in the Maldives right now.
      Hopefully we’ll have happier times in our country one day.

    2. zuhair

      The writer is very well informed and this article covers all the salient events of the current political situation in Maldives.

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