MDP asks New Delhi to Stop Military Assistance to the Gayoom Government

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....

 

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Comments

Thanks for the informative

Thanks for the informative post!

people fighting for democracy are fighting an uphill battle….

This line got me thinking. I was reading a book recently (Revolutionaries by Hobsbawn) that discussed various strategies through which people fight for "democracy" or some substitute term that would probably be applicable here actually end up doing it. So I pose this as an open question because I have no idea what the answer is: what does a "pro-democracy" movements need to look like to be both effective, egalitarian, and libertarian in The Maldives? Generally speaking, how much can you state this in universal terms (i.e. across societies and situations)?

Hoping they provide access to the Internet in The Maldives or other small or large dictatorships/fascist states :)

So I pose this as an open

So I pose this as an open question because I have no idea what the answer is: what does a “pro-democracy” movements need to look like to be both effective, egalitarian, and libertarian in The Maldives? Generally speaking, how much can you state this in universal terms (i.e. across societies and situations)?

Big question, yaar :)

[...] - Pass the roti on the

[...] - Pass the roti on the left side criticizes democratic India, which is arming Maldivian autocratic government. [...]

Well. The Maldives has

Well. The Maldives has loosened its grip on the Internet.. and certain political websites that were earlier censored are now allowed. While on one hand the Government has allowed opposition media to function - on the other it has continued to arrest and intimidate free journalists.

Yes, the democracy movement is an uphill task in my country, especially given the lack of open support and pressure from neighbourhood democracies like India that claim to promote social freedom. India's stand on the Maldives issue as well as the Tibetan issue is quite dubious. So also its reaction to the Nepal crisis and it's hands-off approach to the civil war in Sri Lanka.

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