Maldives is a paradise for some and hell for others. Maldives as seen by a tourist is a paradise. They see the idyllic island life that the guide takes them to. They enjoy a stay at a resort which are beyond the normal Maldivians’ reach. Those islands which were mostly uninhabited before the resorts, were maintained by the ancestors of the normal Maldivian who cannot step foot on those islands now except as a worker.
The whole country has been sliced and passed out like a pie to the resort moguls. They have their complete freedom which is denied to other Maldivians. The only difference between us and them is that they have money and we don’t. They don’t give a damn about the state of affairs unless it would somehow affect their business. They don’t care how many people are being stabbed on the streets of Male’. They don’t care how dangerous Male’ has become. When this place becomes hell, they would be jetting off with everything to another country, they can afford to do that.
However you and I, the lower and middle class Maldivian, we cannot afford to do so. We are stuck here no matter how bad the situation here becomes. We have no other choice but to live here even if there are violence on the streets daily. Even if we had a choice to get away, why should we? It is our country, our Maldives. We should be asking ourselves why we have let our society fall so much into disrepair.
On the 8th of August a prominent blogger, journalist and human rights advocate Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla @moyameehaa disappeared and is suspected to have been abducted. 18 days have passed and still yet no word from the Maldivian Police Service other than “we are investigating”. Rilwan’s disappearance is a threat to all of us Maldivians. We do not know why he has disappeared. We do not know who will be next to disappear.
Do you not think that this is the time that the institutions in charge of ensuring a safe environment for all should be reassuring the public? Do you not think this is an issue that should be considered important by the people we elected to serve us? Why was a disappearance of a Maldivian citizen not important enough for President Yamin to tell us that he would leave it to the relevant authorities to make a comment on this case? Ask yourself why is this not an important issue for the President? If Maldivians start disappearing day by day, would he still feel that it is not important enough for him as President to issue a statement pressuring relevant authorities to take action?
Why has the Parliament been so slow to respond to this issue? Was this issue not important enough for them to cut short their weekend and start work? Why have they been so slow in holding Maldives Police Service accountable for their failings in this case? Call you Member of Parliament. Demand that they do their jobs. Demand that they help a family suffering from the disappearance of their son/uncle/brother.
If you feel like this is an issue you could avoid thinking it wouldn’t be you, think about this. This does not just concern journalists, bloggers, human rights advocates. This is bigger than that. There have already been death threats to other journalists. Individual bloggers have already been receiving death threats regularly. Freedom of expression is being strangled. By the looks of the way things are heading, it will not be just journalists, bloggers who will be in danger. It will be anyone who has an opinion. If most Maldivians carry on with their apathetic attitude to the abduction of Rilwan @moyameehaa, whoever abducted him will grow bolder knowing no one cares. Then who will it be? Any ordinary citizen who they feel has said something they do not agree with? Anyone? Me? You?
For those people who tell us not to tweet, not to blog because it is dangerous to do so now, why should we? Are we not censoring ourselves then? Are we not killing freedom of expression by ourselves then? Be vocal. It is because there are few people like Rilwan @moyameehaa who weren’t afraid to be vocal that they are finding it so easy to silence people. Cowards wish to silence everyone but themslves but there will always be people who will voice out against them. Be one of those people.