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Maldivian riots and its aftermath

I write this letter as a concerned citizen over the abuse and exploitation of a national grief by various foreign-based elements and their lackeys in the country. The bulk of the people of the country, who have no axe to grind or a personal gain to be made, have been numbed and quietened by the tragedy. We were among the ones who took part in the funeral service in the cemetery, while gangsters were roaming the streets and vandalising the capital in 90 minutes of mayhem and anarchy on Black Saturday, 20th September. Our grief blinded us from deterring these gangs. But that was a momentary lapse of judgement, and every one of us knows, we are not criminals, and I cannot associate myself with the violence and arson that they committed. And I will not allow us to be spoken for by criminals, opportunists, failed politicians and disgraced businessmen.

We want justice. That means that the perpetrators of the deaths in custody must be brought to book. The President has personally vowed this to us, and we want this delivered quickly, as soon as the Commission finishes work.

We want to be sure that there is no repeat of such tragedy. That means that the Government must review police procedures and institute prison reforms so that the police cannot ever again beat a prisoner black and blue. That also means that the police build secure prisons which will not lead to break outs, and if there were, they should have more graduated responses that do not involve shooting.

Now we donít want to use the deaths to take the country into chaos. Then more people will die. I resent that some people are trying to use these deaths, a genuine tragedy, to destroy the nation. Worse, we donít want failed politicians who had mistakenly thought they were above the law, to exploit our genuine grief. What did they ever do to improve the social and economic conditions that provide opportunities to rehabilitate misguided youths? Were they ever interested in helping youths and improving employment opportunities for them? Were they ever interested in upholding law and order which would keep our youths off crime?

On the contrary, these few failed politicians are only interested in their personal fortunes. They have used our youths, and even their own children, to advance their defeated causes. They have enlisted street gangs for their political ends, harassing MPs and ordinary citizens. Having failed to make the political mainstream, and having also failed to live up to standards of personal integrity, they have decided to use neighbourhood gangs as a political force. The end result is anarchy and violence. The rampaging gangs, who have no political ambitions or aims, attacked what they were told, after their minds were poisoned with drugs, alcohol, permissive lifestyles, and dirty money. How else do you account for the fact that in addition to neighbourhood watch police stations, the most frequent targets were traffic lights? It has now come to light that these people kept street gangs as retainers for their shady jobs!

National tragedy

The other attempt is to use the national tragedy to clear Sandhaanu. Police brutality resulting in custodial deaths is a shame to the police and to the nation. But it does not make Sandhaanu produce better people. Neither does it make Sandhaanu a peaceful paper. Nor does it justify the call for breaking laws and breaking bones. We know some family members of Sandhaanu are secretly working to portray as saints and saviours these disgraced and failed businessmen, who advocated terrorism and displayed endless personal greed. They may have fooled Amnesty, which is accustomed to winning Nobel prizes by exploiting the deaths of others. But where was Amnesty when the kids were being killed in Baghdad and Afghanistan and Palestine? The family members of Sandhaanu, who are leading a campaign to whitewash what the paper did, are not even owning up to being family members! If they are so ashamed to admit that Sandhaanu is family, then why do they think that the people in this country would want to think of Sandhaanu and the rejected politicians as their saviours?

If there was more police brutality, then those who died on Black Saturday have died in vain. If there is no respect for law, and if anarchy rules, and violence takes over, then the deaths have been in vain. If street gangs are not rehabilitated into society, and are encouraged to be violent and anarchist, then their fellow mates have died in vain. But, if as the President has promised, if justice is done, if measures are taken to ensure that even the police cannot break laws, then those who died have not died in vain, but have indeed become martyrs.

Now, who can make that difference? Only Raees Maumoon can. Failed businessmen and disgraced politicians can create much ruckus, but little else. Just name one good thing that they have been able to do to this country, in all those years of sound fury? What this country needs now is calm and stability, and an extra effort to address the social malaise and parental neglect that are creating street gangs. It needs less politics and more focus on social development of the youth, as well as less radicalism and more national unity. Everybody can become a presidentí. But few can truly lead, as opposed to incite. Amnesty would have it that the choice that this country has is between Raees Maumoon or Sandhaanu or between the current leadership and drug addicts. Amnesty could not insult a nation more!
Ali Akhtar


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