Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Open letter to Sir Richard Branson

Following his post on the conversation with Mr. Waheed, I posted the letter below on his blog,

Writing to Sir Branson was important to me because he is one of my heroes, and I've always admired his work around the world, not to mention his adventurous escapades! Here's my letter below:

Dear Sir Branson,
We agree it was good of ‘President’ Waheed to answer your queries regarding the transfer of government in the Maldives, even though it is most likely another desperate attempt to garner both local and international support now that his government is fast losing face as the facts are becoming clearer and the voices against them are getting louder by the day.
We, the youth of the country who struggled and sacrificed heavily to bring about democracy to the Maldives, would like to bring some of our concerns to your kind attention, following this post on your website. Mr. Waheed might have been watching the events on television, as he said. But he was certainly not watching television unawares when opposition forces who had been calling for a coup went to meet him at his private residence in the middle of the night. There can be no doubt that although Mr. Waheed might not have been aware of the intricacies and every detail of the plot, he was and remains very much a protagonist of the coup. Mr. Waheed says he is not aware of who issued the arrest warrant. This is a ludicrous statement. As President, he should know. If he didn’t know then, he should know by now, more than three weeks after the incident. Mr. Waheed says Mr. Nasheed’s party was invited to join his government. If Mr. Nasheed’s party accepted the offer, they will be joining hands with a band of mutineers, they will be filling the ranks in an illegitimate government which they accuse of overthrowing the democratically elected, and may we point out, the first ever democratically elected President of the country.
The majority of the people want an election, and this is blatantly obvious from every rally, every protest, every peaceful gathering that has been held from 7 February 2012 until now. Our women’s rally, our youth parade, our freedom marches calling for democracy and early elections have displayed bigger turnouts than any political gathering in the history of the Maldives. We are not all supporters of MDP, the party of Mr. Nasheed, and unlike Mr. Waheedhas stated, is also the largest party in the country. We are not all calling to restore his government. We want a President we elect, we want our voice to matter, we want to be heard with our vote. Mr. Waheed is saying there will be an election in 18 months. That is the election that would have been held after Mr. Nasheed had completed his 5 year term. But he hasn’t completed his term, and his government has been overthrown by force by mutinous forces within the law enforcement and defense forces who had sided with the opposition. Hence we cannot wait for an election in 18 months. If we do so we are accepting an illegitimate government with a President who has no seat in Parliament, no seat in a council, and less than 3000 members in his party. That is not democracy, and we urge wellwishers and friends of Maldives all over the world such as you to speak on our behalf, and pressure for an early election as well as an end to injustice, tyranny and brutality against Mr. Nasheed’s supporters. This is our plea, Sir Branson.
There is everything to be gained, even for Mr. Waheed and his government, if all the allegations, doubt and skepticism are put aside after a deciding vote. One must question why there is such hesitation and reluctance to go to an election without any dubious motives. The reason is that people, especially the youth, are frustrated and angry. We do not want to see the kind of police brutality and violence that took place following the peaceful protest by Mr. Nasheed’s supporters on 8 February 2012, the photos and video footage of which were even captured by international media and viewed on social media networks all over the world. We do not want a President we didn’t elect, and we do not want a government in which we do not have confidence or faith. On 28 October 2008 we elected the President we wanted to lead our country, we voted for his manifesto, and we voted for Mr. Waheed to be Mr. Nasheed’s deputy, to assist him in fulfilling his pledges. We trusted Mr. Nasheed’s judgment that he will make a loyal and sincere deputy. We did not vote for him as Mr. Nasheed’s running mate expecting him to betray the President or the country, to either engineer or be part of a coup to overthrow Mr. Nasheed midway through his Presidential term. The government’s pledges were being fulfilled speedily, democracy was being consolidated, human rights were being promoted, and after seeing the mounting support and achievements in just 3 years, we believe the opposition saw there was no possibility of winning a free and fair election in 2013. That is why they resorted to an ugly coup, why they resort to violence and oppression and violence and brutality even today, and why they will hold off an election for as long as they possibly can. But we refuse to be silenced. Everyday we gather at our rally point in the capital Male, the homemakers with their kids, the fishermen, the surfers, the teachers, the businessmen, the musicians, the retired elderly…we come from all walks of life, but with one purpose. We call for our right to vote and elect our President, we call for an end to violence, we call for justice, freedom and democracy in the Maldives. That is what we want, Sir Branson.
Remnants of the former 30 year regime that fell with the election of Mr. Nasheed in 2008 accuse Mr. Nasheed of many things, as some have commented on your website. They have been hiding behind a corrupt judiciary that had been put in place and cemented by a dictatorial regime. Mr. Nasheed tried to free the courts, and that was his ‘mistake’. He kicked the hornet’s nest, and the rest is history, as seen by the terrible events that unfolded on 7 February 2012, a dark and ugly day in the history of the beautiful and tranquil Maldives.
Sir Branson, there is no sincerity in the hearts and minds of mutineers and those who join hands with them. They will say they will look into accusations of brutality and violence and so on and so forth. We doubt much will come of this ‘looking into’ matters. One thing we have no doubt about is the fact that there will be no independent, fair examining of the facts that led to Mr. Nasheed’s resignation. After all who will put together a commission and examine the facts, and then declare himself a traitor who sided with mutineers who had engineered a plot to overthrow the constitutional government of the country. It is the same as Macbeth forming a committee to investigate the murder of King Duncan, when his hands were red with blood.
Sir Branson, we too want peace and serenity resorted in our pristine shores. We want to go back to our simple lives as they were. We want to laugh with our friends, surf the waves, listen to our traditional boduberu, go about our daily business, open our hearts and arms to our guests with the sunny smiles, warmth and love, and renowned Maldivian hospitality as we have done for thousands of years. But today we are being broken and bent, and we cannot fight this fight alone.
We the youth call to respect our rights, and the world to hear our cries for help. As Martin Luther Jr has spoken truly, “A right delayed is a right denied”.
Maldivian Blogger Cheeky Sylph,
On behalf of Maldivian youth calling for justice, freedom and democracy

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