Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Dark Days in Maldivian History

Yesterday, a democratically elected government, a government voted for and endorsed by the people, was ousted by a mutinous faction of the police and military that sided with the opposition. The President was forced at gunpoint to resign, and as he spoke those words, eyes across the country shed tears, hearts bled, hopes died. 7th February 2012 will go down in history as a day of betrayal, mutiny, treason and above all,a day when the people's will was not only ignored, but trampled upon and shred to smithereens.

The respect I used to have for our law enforcement, gone. The admiration I had for the service of the armed forces, gone. The trust I had that the police will protect me and my loved ones, and that this society was a safe place to live freely, gone. I can not see them as anything more than brutal thugs, and it hurts me to say this but I can never regard someone in uniform the same way again. Thugs in uniforms, who use their batons and pepper spray and tear gas against unarmed civilians. Thugs in uniforms, who in the name of 'defending and upholding the constitution' are using brute, unrestrained force on the civilians they had sworn to protect. I guess they are still within the tenets of the constitution even when they are breaking their oaths and beat civilians to death and drag a former president on the street like a common criminal.

Facts will be facts. The government led by Nasheed had let these opposition protesters freely gather and protest, as baseless as their claims were, even as they were hurling all sorts of verbal filth, vandalizing property and what not, for 22 days! for 22 days, and nobody ended up in the ICU. When former president maumoon stepped down following the defeat in the 2008 election, nobody laid a finger on him. During the 23 December protest and the series of protests that followed, none of the other political leaders of the political opposition were harmed either. In one day of this new government, we already have seen how 'decently' and 'humanely' people are treated, and how well peace has been restored. It is all well and good to address the media in press conferences in 'freshly pressed' suits as BBC had reported, but it is another matter when none of these smooth words (probably spoonfed by one of the puppet masters holding his strings) tie up with the actions. Sad thing is, when all this was happening, 3 of the tv channels were sleeping! Where are the institutions that were apparently so crucial to uphold democracy?? Where were they when the legitimate government was ousted by force? Supposedly the Human Rights Commission had expressed concern regarding the violence today. Then do something I say. The Police Integrity Commission is urging the police to practice restraint. Do something! You think they will listen? They have to be brought to justice, they have to face repurcussions of their actions, they have to be punished for blatant cruelty and abuse! The fact that the police claimed to be upholding and defending the constitution when they sided with the opposition i such a ridiculous joke! Ask the 30 people in ICU at the moment, or the 200 in jail, all within 24 hours of the 'new government'. Democracy in deed!

Yesterday, the police and military stormed into the state broadcaster MNBC's station. Who had the authority to change its name to TVM? Who had given a broadcasting license to TVM when it was airing in the morning? Where was the Human Rights Commission - why were they not concerned about the rights of the staff at MNBC who were emotionally traumatized? Where was the Broadcasting Commission? Where was the famous Journalists Association? Hirigaa Zahir was present at the President's resignation press conference, so perhaps he was a bit too occupied to be bothered about calling for the rights of these journalists and MNBC staff. Or maybe their concern only extends to journalists of certain private media? After all a lady reporter from Rajje TV was physically assaulted in front of many people by an MP (the one who permanently looks unwashed and badly in need of a deo), and there was no big fuss about that. Today the cables of Rajje TV were cut off by none other than the police, during the live coverage of the protest by supporters of former president Nasheed. By the Police! The police had smashed a window of MNBC, the police had burnt and destroyed and locked up the meeting place of MDP, a party of 50,000 people in a country of just over 300,000. Where are these people concerned about freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, rights of the media, this right, that right!?? There are no rights, only batons and tear gas and pepper spray! That is the image we have of our uniformed thugs and hounds now.

This was a coup d' etat. Clear and Simple. This is what we call baghaavaaiy. If I dont post here again, that should also come as no big surprise. This is the day of brute force and blatant disregard for rights or human decency, of the constitution of rule of law, basically of all the things we used to hold dear in this society. Who knows where we shall end up? People have been dragged out of cafes and beaten, stopped on the streets and beaten, cornered like hunted prey and beaten... so I might as well end up suffering the same for voicing my thoughts, in this so-called free democracy. You could perhaps try look for me in dhoonidhoo :P

Stay safe, and remember this day. Remember to tell your kids of this history. The day that the police and the military killed democracy. The day that the public opinion was silenced, and the independent commissions went into a coma. The day that women and elderly were mercilessly beaten with batons by the people who had sworn to protect them. The day that hope and freedom left this sad, miserable country plundered by goons and thugs and their greedy, corrupt masters.

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