KOCHI: Maldivian senior statesman Ibrahim Ismail (Ibra), who was a minister in the ousted Mohammed Nasheed government, said India should come down hard on the present regime in his country and ask Mohammed Waheed Hassan to call for general election this year itself.
Talking to TOI in an exclusive interview here on Friday, Ibra said India’s response to the coup in Maldives was cold and that the largest democracy in the world had shut its eyes on the human rights violations that were going on in his country.
“The protests against the military rule are on the rise. In the last 40 days, more than 650 people have been arrested compared to the 10-15 detained for hooliganism in the last three years of democratic rule,” he said.
Mohammed Aslam, who was also present at the interview, said India’s continuing indifference to ‘Maldivian domestic affairs’ had upset human rights groups and top leaders of the ousted Maldivian Democratic Party government hoped India would use its good offices to ensure that President Waheed announced an election date this year. The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) was meeting in April and was expected to come out with a statement on the state of affairs in Maldives, Aslam said.
“The present government is enforcing Taliban-like religious strictures on a people who are faithful Muslims. We are a liberal Muslim country. What happened to us should be a lesson for all Arab nations who follow Islamic principles but are being bombarded with extreme rightwing views,” he added. Aslam said a riot police force had been set up just to control protestors and they had been using brutal force against people, including women protestors.
An increasing number of women have been coming out in protest against the new regime, he said adding that about 10,000 women hold protest demonstrations every day.
Ibra, who led the first pro-democracy mass protest in 2004, which led to the formation of the first democratically-elected government in Maldives, admitted they didn’t see the coup coming until it was too late. “We should have been careful as the elements of dictatorship don’t go away too easily. The present government is a dummy of Mohammed Qayyoom, who is running the government from behind the scene,” he added.
They hoped that India, which was given a more important role than China in Maldives during the MDP rule on account of it being the largest democracy in the world, would come to the rescue of the thousands of protestors who had taken to the streets against the oppressive military government in Maldives.Source: Times of India