Saturday, 27 July 2013

My day in the Maldives: July 27, 2010

On this day 3 years ago, on July 27, 2010, I cried in public, standing on the road, outside the Maldives Police Headquarters tearing pouring uncontrollably.

I had gone to the Police to report the Judicial Service Commission, sitting at work on a public holiday, in a hastily called, irregular, unlawful sitting, putting the final stamp on a long drawn conspiracy to hijack the Judiciary. It was, I now have good reason to believe, the first major takeover in the coup that brought down legitimate government with the forced resignation of the first democratically elected President, Mohamed Nasheed, on Feb 7, 2012.

The Government was on holiday, Police Station on holiday mode, and there was no one available to hear my complaint. The junior officers at the counter tried calling superiors but it appeared they had all been busy with the Independence Day, the day before, and were “off”. There was none to speak.

I told the Officers on duty that the Judicial Service Commission was sitting, at work, that given two hours, they'll bring down the State, and walked out. They stood there, in silence. 

I had tried all other avenues before, and had tried to reach President Nasheed through his Office. The President was out of reach, out of Male’ on official ceremony with the Maldives National Defence Forces, on their territory, outside Male’, where he was Commander in Chief with the MNDF, without his presidential aides.

I was helpless to stop it, and I was convinced the State was collapsing. The Judicial Service Commission was at that moment sitting, colluding, to reappoint Gayoom’s judges enmasse,
and approving name by name, without check or inquiry. No one else in the country appeared to know what was going on. The media found it all too fantastic. It appeared a Hollywood script, unreal, to be taken seriously.

I stood outside the Police Headquarters, frantic, tears streaming down my face from behind my big black sunglasses, trying to think what next, when Colonel Zubair who came out of the MNDF Headquarters saw me standing outside the Police Headquarters alone, came up to me. 

He saw me crying as I couldn’t stop the tears though I pretended I wasn’t crying. The tears just started, and it poured more as I spoke. I couldn't stop it. I explained my predicament to Zubair, who called up a police chief, and I spoke to the chief, who explained to me…

To cut short, it was explained to me they understood my case but the Police could not act to prevent the Judicial Service Commission from breaching the Constitution, acting against the State, hijacking the Courts, or robbing the People of the Independent Judiciary guaranteed by the Constitution. These were the crimes I was reporting in my non-legal mind.

I walked back slowly to Maanel, my haven, where I ran to breathe when JSC stifled me, and where I went to vent and collect myself before running back when JSC taunted, threatened and attacked as it often happened there those days, in 2010. JSC was just down the street.

I left the documents I’d taken out from JSC that morning safe, and telling Wimla and Huchen what was going on, I left Maanel and walked back to JSC with only a water bottle, my phone and the JSC keycard. I was on my way to my first ever protest, having only been an observer, a reporter, in the years when protesting had begun in the Maldives.

All along, I had been calling up media and contacts, telling people of what was going on, and there was some public activity. A small crowd was already gathered outside the JSC when I went back.

Earlier I had gone there that morning at 10am to find the Speaker, Abdulla Shahid, sitting in his place in the Commission, on the right hand of Commission Chair interim Supreme Court Justice Mujthaaz Fahmy, ready to complete the elaborate process of pretence at executing Constitution Article 285 JSC had dragged on. Till then, I had kept hope Abdulla Shahid was outside the matter, and despite all evidence to the contrary had kept my trust in him, and appealed to him, to bring an end to this awful charade that was bound to kill the Constitution. I knew, Abdulla Shahid understood Constitution and democratic principles and standards like no other…..

I had appealed to the Commission not to go ahead with treason, and being ignored as it is done in the JSC when it is not to the liking of the Chair, had removed the documents in my folder and left the room. I went to the Police. 

Seeing Shahid, I had realized that this was far bigger a conspiracy than I had wanted to believe.

Back again, I protested inside the conference hall where JSC continued with its treason despite my live commentary heard live via my phone which I’d put on the speaker after calling up a protester outside. Outside, they had a loudspeaker on the phone. I protested inside till early evening when it finally ended for the way, in what appeared to be a conciliatory act by JSC, heeding to the public protests outside.

By then there were MPs and a few lawyers speaking on media, and media was covering the protests outside JSC.

The people protested. And they pretended they heard. After the protesters left, they returned the next day, and quietly carried out the crimes that haunt us today.

I stayed away on July 28, 2010 having informed the Commission that I would not be participating in any unconstitutional sittings or activities in the JSC. 

It was Sheikh Shuaib Abdul Rahman, member appointed to the JSC from the Public by the Majlis, who protested on July 27, 2010, against JSC's breach of trust. 

Sheikh Shuaib walked out in protest of JSC approving Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed when JSC had evidence Abdulla Mohamed did not possess the qualifications of a judge required under Islamic Sharia’.  Sheikh Shuaib then spoke to media and informed the public of what had happened  in JSC that day, July 27, 2010.

I spoke with J.J. Robinson of Minivan News a few days later of what I was seeing. 

The rest is history, to be written and rewritten, as it comes...

July 27, 2013

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