Friday, June 8, 2012

Environment Day 2012.

Environment day is a special day for me.

"No Vehicle Hours (NVHs)" is one of several activities that were held to mark this years environment day in Maldives. The basic idea behind this activity is very simple; Nobody drives a vehicle between 1600hours and 2200 hours on this Friday.

I thought i would write this article to share some observations i made of the NVHs.

As i ambled down the streets of Mal'e around 1600hours today my first impression was that NVHs was literally a success. There were no vehicles. Instead there were people. Lots of happy people of all ages.

Moms relinquished their kids, who merrily hopped and skittered in the middle of the streets, that would otherwise be dominated by vehicles.

For once, i thought i had gone deaf. The constant chugging of engines, and the endless vrooms of the vehicles was replaced, by amused giggles and laughter of people who roamed around freely, trusting no vehicle would trespass and disrupts this brief moment of joy rarely experienced by the families living in Mal'e. Replace the paving stones of the streets with sand and the vehicles parked along the pavement with trees and the atmosphere of Mal'e would be almost identical to that of any island of Maldives.

Then I ran into a group of youths around a corner. They were garbed in black t shirts. I saw them only when one of them just pops out of nowhere, right in front of me with a two foot metal tube. He was shouting at another guy who was across the street. Cautious not to make eye contact with him, i swayed away praying not to be a victim of collateral damage if something bad happens: But only to come face to face with another scary young boy wearing a black T-Shirt. He could be no older than 18, with long hair and a bandaged arm.

This encounter suddenly played a flashback of news headlines in my mind:Murder of Bobby, Arham, many others and the attack on Hilath. I was suddenly grief-stricken to come to terms with how unsafe, and deadly the street of Mal'e has become.

After walking few steps away from them, I looked back to get an idea of what was happening. They were trying to break off the Dlock on an old Raleigh bike.

The "No Vehicles Hours" could be regarded as a success in an organizers perspectives.

If you ask me how effective it was I would say people who walked around the streets empty of vehicles were having a really good time, on just another Friday evening with their families. Only a Few celebrated the Environment day.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Humanity Lost?

Our nation is going through tragic times.

People are been slaughtered on the streets.
In front of dozens of people and on tape.

For this escalation of street butcheries Will we blame the police force, or will we blame the judiciary. Will we blame a former president or the current government?

I wonder when we lost Humanity itself.

Lastnight Hilath was knifed in the neck. His throat was slit wide open. Blood started squirting rapidly. He covered the wound with his hand and ran around, begging for help, pleading, someone, anyone to take him to a hospital. Until a while later, some brave guy, took him to hospital on the back of his motor bike, bathed in Hilath's blood, while others who witnessed the whole thing, fled the scene.

When we humans lose humanity, cctv recording fails, witness statements start contradicting, lawyers fight with their life to save murderers, judges make controversial decisions and politicians make funny and trivial tweets unceremoniously.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Meeting with the Crusader of Democracy

Photo Mauroof Khaleel

As the nation is headed for the biggest political rally in its history, I am not in the mood to talk about how the advent of democracy was abruptly disrupted, only three years later on 7th February 2012.

There is enough dismal facts, imagination driven wild fictions, and unconfirmed stories of the events leading up to extinction of Democracy in Maldives that would keep us entertained and bewildered, curious and cautious for ages to comes.

While the issue of forceful deposing a democratically elected president by a mutiny of factions from police and mndf, leaving the vice president to be his successor creates contentious room, whether the new government is democratic or not: without a shadow of doubt, police brutality is a universal characteristics of a dictatorship.

Just only 24hours after later it was evident that our nation has plummeted from a desirable democracy to the iron grips of a dictatorship on February 7, 2012. Brutal crackdown, unlawful detention, merciless beating during and in arrest, coercion and intimidation of the public and growing civil unrest that followed are clear cut indicators of the transition of power our nation underwent, overnight, from a democracy to a dictatorship.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet the former president at his home Kenereege. I was there on an invitation by President Nasheedh to meet the civil society and NGOS of Maldives.

Meeting with the internationally acclaimed crusader of Democracy at his home, surrounded by his former cabinet members and parliamentarians of MDP was one of the most inspirational moments I had since 7th February.

I thought of dedicating this post to President Nasheedh and all believers, supporters, advocates and campaigners of democracy. Below are some truly inspirational quotes of Nasheedh from the discussion we had yesterday.

On elections:
There momentum result and the impact of an election is ultimately a very decisive factor: which is primarily why people focus on ballot boxes. For instance neither our party nor any other political party can afford to be engaged in other activities that are unrelated to the election.
Even in most volatile political environments, even when a nation is under attack, or been bombarded if stability and peace is to be realized and restored then I believe we will have to resort to an election: the results of the election will and can ultimately decide the fate of that nation.
I believe that there is no time or environment that is not conducive for an election. What makes the situation conducive is also the call for an election.

For any reason we as a nation cannot afford to delay or not have an election. Without an election we cannot establish the legitimacy of this government. We will not join the current government. We also will relentlessly continue to pressure the government. So for instance I do not see without the representation of the membership of our party of how the government will appoint ministers and the vice president and ample of such other issues. So I do not see any other way than opting for an election for any political leader in Maldives.

On Police and MNDF

Police and mndf will only behave as they are instructed. It is very clear for us. They would only act as they are instructed or commanded. We know this from the past.

On revolution:

Revolutions are very common. For the international community and for diplomats it is nothing new at all. Only a few days ago a revolution in Thailand selected a new leader only to be ousted in another revolt. This is nothing new to the rest of the world. Only we are shocked, sad and worried.

On civil disobedience:

If we do not get an election we will be left with no option but resort to civil disobedience. I believe civil disobedience is a peaceful political activity. It does not incite violence. I would beseech from all Maldivians to join in the civil disobedience.

On Democracy:

I am not saying that I’m the best democrat. Neither I am saying that everything I do is in accordance with the best democratic principles but for us there is nothing more sacred than democracy. It is our firm understanding that there is nothing more we can achieve by forfeiting democracy. It is also our belief that if we forfeit democracy there is nothing we can gain. I believe if we give up on democracy neither we can achieve the development we aspire.

On Peaceful political activity:
I request all not to climb the areca palms planted on the street even to take pictures of the protest. I can see many journalist and photographer doing it. I request them no to do so. NGO, Reporters, Observers and political party representatives shouldn’t do that. We should not harm the trees. Neither should we vandalize a moto bike or damage any other property. I am certain without a shadow of a doubt that we can control our demonstrators. Tomorrow (17th February 2011) we will see the largest number of people Maldives has seen in a gathering so up to date. Yet we will be capable of bringing pin drop silence at times we need to so and we will make our voices heard loud and clear when we need to. We will be responsible for that, because we should be able and we will have that much control over our people. That control will be established through the mic, by rhetoric, not by batons and pepper spray.
Even if they hit, Don’t hit back. Do not retaliate!

ON the role of civil society:
I want you to be honest. To be sincere and to observe and report everything with honesty sincerity and integrity.
I support today’s rally for democracy. Even it’s a political party and if its MDP that is doing it I am with them.

Photo Mauroof Khaleel