India is the world's largest democracy, right? So why is a "democracy" arming an autocratic regime?
A couple of days ago, I blogged about President Gayoom's autocratic rule in the Maldives and the recent release of Mohamed Nasheed, a senior leader of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). To follow up, the MDP has asked India's help to restore democracy:
The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), fighting against President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's "autocratic" rule, on Monday sought India's role in talks with the (Gayoom) government for ending the "period of repression" and restoring democracy in the island nation.
Expressing disappointment at India's role so far, the MDP also demanded that New Delhi stop its military assistance to the Gayoom government as it was being used only to suppress the opposition activities for restoration of democracy.
About eight per cent of the GDP goes into defence spending and that is supplied by India, Latheef said and demanded that India stop such aid [Link].
Pointing out that the Maldives spent 8 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product on defence, he questioned the rationale behind it. The country did not have any known enemies. It was, perhaps, the most homogenous society on earth. The only conclusion that could be drawn was that the forces would be used to quell dissent [Link].
"We are disappointed with India's role so far. On one hand, India is saying that it does not want to interfere, on the other hand they are donating arms and ammunition to the Maldivian government," he added [Link].
Does this sound familiar? Say, another "democracy" that arms and gives military aid to dictatorships and other unsavory characters (Hint: a huge country in North America)? Furthermore,
Despite ongoing concerns about human rights abuses in the Maldives, India sold a fast-attack warship to Gayoom earlier this year.
That sale caused consternation in opposition circles, with senior MDP officials questioning why “the world’s largest democracy is arming the world’s smallest dictatorship.” [Link].
Latheef's bone of contention, is, in a nutshell:
It was disappointing to note that there had been no statement from India supporting the democratic movement in the Maldives. The Maldivian Government was using the defence aid provided by India against its citizens.
The present regime was using four tools to govern: Islam; use of coercive institutions of society; control over the media; well-entrenched system of patronage. The President was using Islam as a major legitimising factor to hang on to power [Link].
Talking to reporters during an official MDP trip to India last week, Latheef pointed out that “for 28 years, there has only been one name on the ballot paper in the Maldives.”
“Maldivians will not wait another two years for that to change. Holding of free and fair elections before the scheduled date of October 2008 remains the fundamental issue for establishing a genuine democracy in Maldives,” he said [Link].
And so the story goes on. "Democracies" empower non democracies, and people fighting for democracy are fighting an uphill battle....