The provisional findings of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)’s human rights mission to the Maldives should “act as a wake-up call” for other members of the international community, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has said in a statement.
“Sadly, since February’s overthrow of the Maldives’ democratically-elected government, key parts of the international community have remained silent regarding the widespread human rights violations taking place,” said the party’s spokesperson, MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor.
“While the IPU, CMAG, Canada, the Human Rights Committee, the EU and certain international NGOs such as Amnesty International and the International Federation for Human Rights have expressed varying degrees of alarm at the Maldives’ backsliding on democracy and human rights, others including the UN Resident Coordinator and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights have remained shamefully silent. To remain silent in the face of injustice is to be an accomplice to that injustice.”
Following its visit the IPU delegation noted on Thursday that it was “difficult” to believe that the recent series of arrests of MPs were not politically motivated.
IPU delegation member Francis Pangilinan, a Philippine Senator, described the circumstances surrounding the recent police raid of Hondaidhoo in Haa Dhaal Atoll and arrest of MPs on charges of alcohol consumption as “very worrying”.
“An impressive team of unidentified police and an army of officers allegedly carried out the arrests, reportedly without a warrant and ill-treated the MPs,” said Pangilinan.
“We are well aware that the consumption of alcohol and drugs is forbidden in the Maldives, but we find it difficult to believe in light of the circumstances and timing of the arrests that the parliamentarians were not targeted for political reasons.”
The delegation further expressed their concern over the failure to punish the police officers who used “excessive force” against MPs earlier this year.
The delegation stressed that the issues raised were an internal matter, and that the IPU could only monitor and communicate with the necessary authorities in the hope that a resolution will come “sooner or later”.
“The outside world is not going to resolve these issues. Instead Maldivians sitting down, ultimately talking to each other to solve the issues of controversy is the only way,” said South African Parliamentary expert Peter Lilienfeld.
MP Ghafoor, who was one of the MPs arrested, meanwhile observed that “gradually, the international community, which for a while was fooled by the appallingly one-sided report of the so-called Commission of National Inquiry, is starting to understand the true nature of the Waheed regime.
“The truth is this: unless Waheed can be pressed into calling early elections, the rapid encroachment of the police state will continue – until it will be impossible to turn it back. It is time for the UN Resident Coordinator and others to wake-up to this fact,” he said.
Minivan News was awaiting comment from UN Representative in the Maldives, Andrew Cox, at time of press.