Editors' Picks General

Laundering A Dictatorship

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
On the 1st of June 2018, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Maldives issued a three page long statement reiterating their unwavering commitment to holding a free, credible and fair election in the Maldives. Their response was prompted by a statement by the Ambassadors of EU, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Romania, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America on the 31st of May 2018. The international concern stemmed from the continued intimidation of political opponents and the failing human rights situation in the Maldives. In addition, the Elections Commission of the Maldives had sought the assistance of the law enforcement to forcibly stop the presidential primary of MDP, the key opposition of the Maldives. However according to the statement by the Foreign Ministry, all these concerns by almost the entire international community was for naught. The situation in the country was top notch and rule of law was intact. The only actions taken by the government was a vehement attempt to ensure constitutionality and respect for law and order. The government will not sit idly by as the opposition tries to ‘hoodwink the people’, according to the statement. The statement by the foreign service also reiterated that the government will go to any length to ensure respect for human rights and constitutional supremacy. Lets read that again shall we? The Foreign Ministry statement reiterates the unwavering commitment to respect and promote HUMAN RIGHTS AND CONSTITUTIONAL SUPREMACY.

I did not know that the Foreign Ministry systematically issued comic pieces as part of their official routine but this time it was just plain hillarious. They talk about hoodwinking people and how the government does not consider that to be congruent to the processes of democracy. But the statement is an intricate example of the art of hoodwinking. It is reads like a whats what of misdirection and evasion. Can I elaborate?

The government talks about upholding the rule of law when the only rule of law that has been upheld since 2013 are those that they believe are convenient to maintain their authoritative grasp on the country. They also talk about upholding the spirit of the Constitution, insisting on strict action against those that undermine it. The spirit of the Constitution; what does it even mean to a government that has decimated the very purpose of the 2008 Constitution using force, coercion, bribery and plain abuse of power? The Constitution envisages equality, non discrimination and a fundamental insistence and supremacy of the rights of the people. It emphasizes the sanctity of the 2nd Chapter that outlines the fundamental rights and freedoms and underscores the seriousness of any violation of these rights and freedoms. The Constitution insists that even restricting such a right should be with extreme caution and even when a legislation is passed to limit or regulate a right, the focus should be to ensure that the limitation is minimal to achieving the objective of the legislation. And that the limitation should conform stringently with similar regulations in democratic societies. This is the basic spirit of the 2008 Constitution and since 2013, the current Parliament has not passed a legislation that has conformed to these basic guidelines. The freedom of expression has been curtailed without any regard for the constitutional aspirations. The freedom of assembly has been restricted in direct contravention to the principles laid out in the Constitution. Freedom of press and association and the right to strike, freedom from torture, other crucial civil, political rights, right to housing, healthcare, rights of migrant workers, the right to non discrimination, gender equality have all been undermined because they do not serve the needs of the government. An unconstitutional state of emergency was declared in direct contravention to the stipulations in the Constitution and the entire political opposition has been arrested using abuse of power, corruption and a consistent influence of the judiciary. And with a history of deliberately weakening the Constitution, for the Foreign Ministry to come out with a statement to portray itself as the saviour of the Constitution and rule of law isn’t just funny, but it is also viciously disrespectful.

I do not know who at the Foreign Ministry writes these fallacious statements knowing fully well that they are betraying their very professions. But more importantly they are betraying the trust of the people who’s lives get destroyed by these whitewashing attempts that downplay the seriousness of continuous human rights violations and subjugation of the people. I know most of the Ministry is staffed with young and ambitious people. But it behooves me how these people are able to explain to their conscience, that they the work they are doing is not diplomacy or foreign service related. Rather the blatant lies they come up with to explain the authoritarian actions of the present government is an exercise in complicity. It is by extension, laundering the brutality of a dictatorial regime to make it more palatable to the international community. I am ashamed. So should you.

Source URL: Medium

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