situation which developed within four days of the meeting
with Foreign Minister Dr Shaeed, Asian Centre for Human Rights,
for the first time is appealing to the international community,
through its weekly ACHR REVIEW to intervene with the government
the crackdown on 12 August 2005, the first anniversary of
pro-democracy uprising, hundreds of people have been arrested
all over Maldives. While some have been released, over 140
political activists remain under arrest by 15 August 2005.
The detainees include Chairperson of the Maldivian Democratic
Party (MDP), Mohamed Nasheed
and other political activists such
as Kanduvai Hussain Rasheed, Ahmed Zahir, Hassan Zahir and
Mohamed Hamdhan Zaki. Several detainees,
including nine-month old pregnant, Aminath Maasha, were reportedly
beaten by the police at the time of their arrest.
On 16 August 2005, senior MDP member from
Addu, Abdulla Rasheed was arrested at Addu Atoll along with
a large number of MDP supporters. According to unconfirmed
sources, about 50 persons were arrested along with Abdulla
reports from the islands of Feydhoo and Hithadhoo indicated
that Mohammed Saeed, Ibrahim Zadhee, Mohammed Saeedh, Abdulla
Sodig, Hussein Shahid, Zahidh Hussein, Saudhullah Hameed,
Mohammed Habeeb, Mohammed Sharmeel, Ibrahim Jamaal, Mohammed
Zubair, Ibrahim Rasheed, Ahmed Sattar, Sobree, Shammi and
Azleem have been taken into custody.
of the arrested have not been taken to Dhoonidhoo, but to
Feydhoo Finolhu and Girifushi.
in the mid-night of 31 July and 1 August 2005,
a large number of people gathered in queues in front of the
Majlis Building (Parliament) in order to observe the
proceedings of the session of the Majlis on 1 August 2005.
As the members of the National Security Service and Pro-Gayoom
political activists have reportedly been filling up the seats
of the Majlis reserved for the public, the crowd gathered
in advance. About 100 policemen including
the elite star force brutally beaten up the demonstrators
with sten guns, electric shock batons etc. The police also
arrested several persons. Maldivian state controlled media
reported on 8 August 2005 that four people- Ismail Riyaz,
Ismail Wajeeh, Mohamed Shaheel and Mohamed Shahid arrested
on the night of 31 July 2005 will be charged under clause
46 of the penal code for “participating in an unlawful assembly.”
government of Maldives allowed the registration of political
parties on 5 June 2005 but not political activities!
about 10 pm on 12 July 2005, Mr.Ibrahim Shareef, Member of
Special Majlis representing Male’Atoll reportedly received
police summons to attend the Police station in Male at 10.30
am on 13 July 2005.
2 June 2005, the day during which the law on establishing
party system was scheduled to be discussed in the Majlis,
eight uniformed policemen allegedly stormed into the house
of MDP Chairperson, Mohamed Nasheed at 05:30 a.m. after climbing
over the compound gate, picked him and sped off in a police
jeep. Three other senior leaders of the party - Ahamad Abbas,
Susan Fulhu and Shuaib Ali were also arrested and detained
along with Mohamed Nasheed.
The charges filed by
the government for participating in the demonstrations on
12 and 13 August 2004 continue to hang like the Damocles
Swords. On 31 December 2004, President Gayoom offered amnesty
but those who were charged have so far not been notified in
writing of the withdrawal of the charges against them. Criminal
law requires that persons concerned by a legal measure be
notified in writing thereof as only such written notification
is legally valid and capable of developing legal effects.
Despite repeated requests from the Inter-Parliamentary
Union, the government of Maldives refused to convey in writing.
Foreign Minister Dr
Shaheed told Asian Centre for Human Rights that what remains
to be done is only an administrative task. But the government
has so far failed to do so.
Unless President’s amnesty of 31 December 2004 is
communicated in writing, the fear of being charged again remains
as the government is infamous for politically motivated trials.
daughter of the spokesperson of the principal opposition party
was charged in February 2004 with terrorism for allegedly
throwing a stone at a policeman during the September 2003
riots. Till now, she cannot travel without the permission
of the government and a verdict is awaited. In June 2005,
Ahmed Falah was sentenced over an incident in prison that
occurred in 1998. In June 2005, Mohamed Nasheed, the chairperson
of the principal opposition party and former prisoner of conscience
was detained for an afternoon on treason charges.
Farce reforms: Weakening of the Human Rights Commission
another incident of reversal of reform process, on 12 July
2005, the Government of Maldives introduced an Amendment Bill
to Human Rights Commission Act in the Peoples’ Majlis. The
amendments were passed in the House on 21 July 2005. The amendments,
amongst others, keep the security forces out of the purview
of the investigation process of the Human Rights Commission
[Art. 21 (b) (3)] and limits investigation powers of the Commission
(Art. 22) and specifically target the Chairperson of the Commission
by limiting his powers and functions to chairing meeting and
delegating responsibilities. It is clear that President Gayoom
has not been feeling comfortable with an independent chairperson
of the Human Rights Commission of Maldives.
The farce of the reform process is
further reflected from the fact that while political parties
have been allowed to register, NGOs have yet not been allowed
registration on frivolous grounds. Maldives is possibly the
only country in the world, which allows the registration of
political parties but not the NGOs. The applications of the
“Maldives Human Rights Association” and "The Reporting
Network for the Relatives of the Persons in Judicial Care"
have been pending considerable time.
Continued censorship and intimidation of the media:
government continues to censor and intimidate the media. On 17 June 2005, two Maldivian journalists,
traveling home from Colombo on board the mid-night flight,
were questioned by the police upon arrival at the Male’ International
airport. The police seized a compilation on how to form political
parties prepared by the MDP based on a booklet prepared by
the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs
Najeeb, the editor of the recently registered newspaper, Minivan
(Independent), has reportedly been hauled to the police twice
and threatened with prosecution and potential jail for an
article on the August 1st protest. The article in question
contained the comments of a Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)
member Ahmed Abbas which stated: “What we should do to those
in the Star Force [police] who beat us, is to seek them out
individually and for us to act in such a manner that makes
them feel that beatings result in pain, otherwise they will
not be subdued.”
Appeal for intervention by international community:
has become amply clear that the registration of the political
parties alone cannot and has failed to resolve the systemic
errors of Maldives. International
community must not be beguiled by President Gayoom's "one
step forward, two steps backward" reform programmes and
make effective intervention to restore political freedoms
Asian Centre for Human Rights appeals
to all the NGOs, United Nations agencies, European Commission,
SAARC Secretariat and all other concerned individuals and
organisations to intervene with the government of Maldives.
First, the government of Maldives
should be urged to immediately and unconditionally release
the Chairperson of the Maldivian Democratic Party, Mohamed Nasheed
and all other political activists arrested since 1 August
2005, and extend invitation to the UN Special Rapporteur on
Torture and UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to immediately
international community must recognize that Maldives is not
a basket case where reforms can be undertaken under the present
constitutional set up. The Peoples Majlis lacks any credibility
as the President continues to control the Majlis by default
through nomination of a large number of members of the Majlis
as provided under the 1998 Constitution of Maldives.
the Secretary General of the United Nations or any other inter-governmental
or non-governmental body should facilitate the national reconciliation
Maldives requires and President Gayoom must facilitate is
to start a dialogue with Maldivian Democratic Party for developing
a road map for composite political reforms. The road map should,
among others, include (1) temporary suspension of the present
flawed constitution and Peoples Majlis given the selection
of a large number of members by the President, (2) formation
of a national unity government to facilitate multi-party parliamentary
and Presidential elections under the supervision of international
observers and (3) allow the newly elected Majlis to draft
a new constitution. Otherwise, if the present repression of
the political parties and unoffcial ban on political activities
continue, the call for resignation of President Gayoom and
fresh Presidential election will not be out of place.
President Gayoom, the choice is clear – either secure a legacy
as a reformist or be condemned as a dictator in the dustbin
of the history of Maldives.
for the sake of human rights and fundamental freedoms, international
community must intervene against the arbitrary arrest, detention
and torture of the political opponents.