Saturday, June 16, 2007

Gayoom's Regime Makes fun of Hinduism and Buddhism

The Maldives converted to Islam from Buddhism in 1153 AD. A large number of Buddhist places of worship were destroyed and mosques were built. Even though there were pockets of resistance from Buddhists in major centres of worship such as Gan of Laamu Atoll, the King in Male' defeated them and eventually the whole country converted to Islam. Some monasteries remained and they are regarded today as historic sites even though the mismanagement of the government has led to the destruction of several sites and loss of relics.

Even though there is no evidence at all to indicate that Buddhism survived in Maldives and monks were groomed generation after generation, the people in Male' received a shock on 3rd November when they saw three 'monks' walking on certain streets in the Maafannu ward of Male'. The young men were dressed in saffron robes and they carried an umbrella with them. It was not clear whether those 'monks' were Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh or Jain.

Hindu and Buddhist monks wear saffron robes. Saffron colour has significance to Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains as well. But the colour is more visible in Hindu flags, robes, Tilaka (mark applied on the forehead) etc. The colour is of significance to all religions branched from Hinduism. It is a militant colour for the Sikhs representing fight against injustice. The origin of usage of saffron as a religious colour is traced back to the time when pigments were rare and saffron colour was derived from the saffron plant which grows in the sub-Himalayan regions. Rarity of saffron could have pushed its value upwards. At the time of Buddha the robes were of saffron colour. But in China only the Emperor was allowed to wear that colour and the monks wore grey or black robes. Since the saffron-coloured dye wasn't available in Tibet, the Tibetan monks started wearing robes of a dark saffron or maroon.

The three young men were not aspiring monks but they were there to provoke the crowd that had gathered near the residence of Mohamed Nasheed, the Chairperson of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), who was transferred to house arrest recently after spending over two months in detention. The crowd had gathered to shake hands with Nasheed, popularly known as Anni, as it was the day of Eid and it was a Muslim tradition to shake hands. Anni was arrested on August 12, 2005 while he was sitting quietly, with a few others, in the Republican Square in Male' as a vigil to mark the anniversary of a demonstration that took place there the previous year. The ruling regime has proceeded to charge Anni with terrorism and treason, charges which many people believe to be fabricated.

Before the morning of Eid, Anni was informed by police that he was not permitted to go down to the ground floor of his apartment building to shake hands with supporters. Anni was warned that he will be transferred to Dhoonidhoo Detention Center again if he is suspected of creating unrest.

“The whole thing is totally ridiculous and highly comical,” Anni told Minivan News. “Woody Allen would say it is a travesty of a mockery!”

Perhaps Anni was not aware of the extent that the mockery will go.

As supporters flocked to the residence of Anni in the morning they received the news and reacted with anger. Many supporters opted to stay there as more people gathered. To provoke the crowd, the regime first sent young boys on motorbikes who sped through the crowd. The appearance of the three 'monks' was a further step by the ruling regime to provoke the people.

The current regime in Maldives, which has been in power for 27 years, has used naive young people to create unrest and to jeopardize peaceful protests in recent months. In early October a march calling to free Anni was interrupted by thugs sponsored by the regime who beat two journalists at the scene. Often brown sugar addicts are also lured into the regime's nasty schemes.

The young people pretending to be monks were dressed in saffron robes because the colour of MDP is golden yellow. As opposition websites had urged people to wear yellow when they go to shake hands with Anni, this was a deliberate mockery of MDP.

However, the regime did not realize that by using the sacred colour of Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains and dressing the young people as monks and parading them on the street to mock MDP, they were also mocking the religions practiced by millions of people in neighbouring countries.

The young 'monks' did not show any qualities of the real monks but they were acting as street thugs. This was a mockery of the said religions which are practiced in several friendly countries including India. Ironically it was the Indians who rescued the Gayoom regime from Tamil terrorists when they attacked the country on a 3rd of November seventeen years ago.

It is sad that this shameful display of arrogance occurred on a day of Eid, a special occasion in which Muslims show tolerance and unity.

Note: This is one of the articles I had written and was published in Minivan News on November 6, 2005.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Workers of All Atolls, Unite!

A wave of red and yellow flowed through the main road of Male', the capital city of a country at crossroads, lifting the spirits of thousands of people and bringing hope to a population that has been suffering for too long.

May 1, 2006, will go down in history as a day of hope. The first May Day ever marked in the history of Maldives ended with jubilation for thousands of people who gathered and marched on the streets. Part of the success of the rally can be attributed to the sheer number of people it attracted and due to the fact that it came to an end without violence or confrontations with the police.

Workers from Male' Port area started the march from their work area, clad in red t-shirts, carrying banners and waving the national flag. Simultaneously, members of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and supporters, who were gathered at the southwestern harbour of Male', started the march waving yellow flags and banners. The two groups converged at the western end of Majeedhee Magu, the main road of Male', and marched eastwards. Initially, the two groups were separated by hundreds of people on motorbikes, joining the rally. Eventually, the two groups joined together, the national flag with its predominant red colour, intermingling with the yellow hues of MDP.

It was a perfect union, of people who aspires for change. MDP was celebrating May Day with a rally to lobby for better labour rights and improved working conditions in the Maldives. Both the workers from the port area and MDP members called for a minimum wage to be introduced, and for Maldives to join the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The workers from the port area, who work long hours for a meager wage, need radical improvements in their working conditions. They want Friday to be off. Despite Friday being a holiday for most Maldivians, those workers have to toil in the port area on Fridays. They argue they too have families and need time free from work. They want a number of bureaucratic hurdles placed in front of them to be removed so that they could enjoy better work conditions. They complain about lack of basic facilities in the port area. Even drinking water and toilet facilities are not widely available according to them.

They say work safety is below expectations in their work environment. Mohamed Haneef, who works in the port area, told Minivan Daily that sometimes containers are carried over workers heads using forklifts. Such work habits have led to accidents in which containers fell on people and caused injuries, according to Haneef.

The area in which those workers work is commonly known as Customs Area, even though Maldives Ports Authority has control over the area. Some people refer to those workers as 'Customs Workers' but they are not employed by Maldives Customs. The nature of their work is intricately linked to clearing cargo that arrives at Male' Port. Some of them are lorry drivers, some load the cargo to the lorries, and unload them at warehouses in different locations of Male'. Before the formation of Maldives Ports Authority, it was the Customs which had control over the area for decades, and the name 'Customs Area' is still used by several people as a relic of those days.

Workers at Male' Port or Male' Commercial Harbour, as it is officially known, are very much dependent on one another. Customs officers, Ports Authority staff and staff from the 'security forces' are to be present when a container is opened and its cargo inspected. Port Security is to be alerted before cargo can pass through the gates of the port.Yet the soul of the Port may as well be the labourers, the lorry and pickup truck drivers, who work there for long hours. They keep the port in motion. As most government officials in the port area such as Customs officers work on shift duty, government offices in the area are able to continue work even after 8.00 pm without unnecessary pressure on workers.

However, the labourers have to work from morning to late night. They argue that the government offices such as Customs and Ports Authority are indirectly forcing the independent labourers to work long hours by having their own staff on duty even after 8.00 pm and having the port open to cargo clearance services. Similarly, a Customs officer, who works on shift duty and gets off-days during the week, may not show any reluctance to report to work on a Friday. On the other hand, the labourers do not get a break throughout the week and are forced to work even on Fridays.

The high living costs of Male', and the low wages they earn, force the workers to remain chained to this oppressive work environment. The lure of the currency is too good to miss. The tyranny of poverty has made them helpless. Nevertheless, the workers at the port area have been very vocal in demanding their rights. Minor protests have already brought some improvements to the work conditions, even before they burst into national limelight on Labour Day, sweeping into Male' as a wave of red.

The workers want a Labour Union to be formed to voice their complaints, anguish and fears. The government is known to block such initiatives through red tape. However, this time the government should better listen, because the workers vow to continue protests till they achieve what they demand.

Workers have been instrumental in bringing drastic political changes throughout the world. The mutiny on Potemkin in June 1905 was one of the crucial factors that led to the eventual fall of Tsar Nicholas II in Russia. The mutiny occurred when sailors went into action against pathetic working conditions. History also shows a significant rebellion of port workers when economic problems led to an uprising of sailors at the northern port of Kronstadt in Russia in March 1921. Since the workers were previously loyal to the government, the uprising gave Lenin the message that he had to change his economic policies.

Whether Maumoon Abdul Gayoom will learn any lessons from the May Day march and bring any improvements to the work conditions of thousands of people in the Maldives is uncertain. His government has failed to enforce any concrete legislation to safeguard the labour rights. The call to formulate a Labour Law was echoed during the May Day rally.

A large percentage of Maldivian workers are employed by the government. There is no independent Civil Service, and political decisions cast ominous shadows over their work environment. A number of government employees face the prospect of losing their jobs unless they join the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), the party formed by Gayoom and his cronies. Several people have already lost jobs by refusing to succumb to such intimidation while the weaker ones have joined DRP against their own beliefs, for the sake of winning bread
for their families.

Maldives is a country that enjoys one of the highest per capita incomes in the region. But the figures are misleading because of the wide gap between the rich and poor. The nation is in a sorry state, with 42% of the people living below poverty line. Tourism contributes to the high per capita income figures that are shown on paper and are proudly spoken about at international conferences and written in gloss official publications. However, a look at the work conditions in the tourism sector makes one take a step back in horror.

Years of centrally controlling the tourism industry, without letting tourism expand to outer islands, have made life difficult for thousands of workers in the tourism sector and their families. While most of the resorts are located near Male' or in atolls near Male', a number of workers are from far-flung islands and atolls. They spend most of the years at the resort, without being able to spend time with their families.

Meanwhile back in their islands, progress mostly creeps forward or takes a step back because there are few able workers on the island. The money sent back home by the resort workers offer some consolation but it does not bring the warm sense of togetherness or belonging that occurs when a family lives together. The intention of controlling power and riches within a reachable distance has bled the nation.

Resort workers complain about discrimination between them and expatriate workers, the horrible food they are fed, and about unsuitable accommodation.

These are issues that people consciously and subconsciously think about when they chant for political change. By bringing these issues to the forefront, MDP is winning more members, supporters and sympathisers. These are issues that MDP should talk about, if it wants to topple the regime and come to power. After all, it is the daily bread that is the main concern of the people.

The chant for Gayoom's resignation was quite naturally heard throughout the May Day rally. It was a deafening roar at times. It is the national anthem for the masses, a rock song for the youth, and a lullaby of consolation. As I flowed with the tide of the human wave, I saw large numbers of people gathered at street corners watching the rally. I searched their faces for signs of hostility. But most of the time I was rewarded with smiles. It seemed as if the whole nation was pulsing with the same urgent need. The success of May Day rally was not only due to the pathetic working conditions but also the urgent need we all feel, that we need to move forward with our country, after disposing the stagnant regime in power.

Whenever a person saw a friend within the rally, there was a handshake, and warm smiles. The feeling of being in the crowd is difficult to describe. The numbers boosted confidence, and added to the resolve. There were several generations gathered; all with the same need. The faces were a kaleidoscope of age; young people, elderly women, middle-aged men, couples holding hands.

Lines of security forces blocked the rally from marching towards Republican Square but we remained near the Bank of Maldives, only a few feet separating us and the riot police. Several people were bold enough to go straight to the riot police line and take their photos. The fear that Gayoom has built over nearly three decades is crumbling.

As the sun set over the lines of riot police sporting their truncheons and shields, and as the twilight of the dusk cast various shades over yellow and red flags, we sat there, with the lagoon of Male' and then a blue sea to our right. What was being said and what was being done were indeed creating ripples. We were there with a message of peace to the armed forces and riot police. Our numbers spoke a lot. The ripples will create waves soon.

The large number of people gathered on May Day indicates that MDP is on the right path. It illustrates that MDP is in tune with the aspirations of the people. It shows that rather than negotiations with a failed regime, it is time for people power.

As a beautiful crescent appeared in the sky above us, one woman remarked, "Look! Even the moon is smiling at us."

Note: This is an article I wrote in May 2006 before I became disillusioned with MDP. It was published in Minivan News on 8 May 2006. With the first organized strikes (taxi drivers and Maldivian Air Taxi cabin crew) in the Maldives, issues concerning workers' rights are coming back to public discussions.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Time for Unity and Solidarity

Note: This article was published by Minivan News on February 12, 2006. With the defection of Ibrahim Shareef (Ma Vota) to DRP, and the still unresolved differences within the ranks of MDP, some of the issues I had raised still hold relevance.

I could not hold back the tears that gathered in my eyes, as I watched the concluding session of the MDP Congress. Standing there in Dharubaaruge, in a hall that was open to the public, watching the Congress from a screen, I could not understand why I had such a soft spot for MDP. As a person who takes pride in being critical of the inherent problems within MDP, I could not believe myself. Later, I found out that many people were moved to tears while they watched the last session of the Congress.

The speech of MDP Chairperson Mohamed Nasheed (Anni), the speech of MDP President Ibrahim Ismail (Ibra) and the calls to free Anni by delegates were indeed emotional moments. There were tears of joy because we all felt that the final session of the Congress was a watershed for MDP and for the struggle to bring democracy to the Maldives. Despite being under house arrest Anni was allowed to join the Congress; the government finally allowed the Congress to take place in Dharubaaruge after refusing it for weeks; the atmosphere was victorious and euphoric.

It was a remarkable achievement, and Anni's presence there was just a symbol of the struggle the leaders of the movement have gone through. It was also the long and winding road ahead; the continued detention of political prisoners; and the realization that there were several others in self-exile unable to join the loved ones in Maldives, that made this small step a giant leap.

Indeed, it is a long and difficult road ahead. If one has any illusions that the brutal regime of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom is giving in to demands of the Maldivian people, then it is a wrong perception. Gayoom is spinning a web of deceit and suffocating the Maldivian people with a chokehold of insincerity. It is time that MDP challenge this brutal regime with all weapons in its arsenal and bring down the oppressors.

That is why the members and supporters of MDP show solidarity and unity at this crucial stage of the struggle.

Cracks and divisions appeared within MDP in the build-up to the Congress held in December 2005. The Congress itself was not the perfect example of democracy. As the existing structure allowed presidents of individual cells to elect the leader of the party, it led to a fierce battle to win over the cell leaders. The alliances some cell leaders formed were not in line with the wishes of members of the cells. There were irregularities and the leadership contest was extremely competitive and to some extent ugly.

The wounds of the election did not heal as soon as some people expected it. The cracks widened. While the candidates themselves did not show any visible disappointment over defeats, there were divisions among various groups of people who lobbied for different candidates.

There are rumours that MDP Chairperson Anni sided with Ibra at the last moment and lobbied for Ibra. Similarly there are accusations that the party's Co-founder Mohamed Latheef was in favour of Dr Mohamed Waheed. Both Anni and Latheef insisted prior to the election that they remained neutral in the race to elect a leader for MDP.

Several activists from Addu were promoting Dr Munavvar, who they insisted would be attentive to their grievances and pain, if he were elected the leader of MDP. After years of neglect from Gayoom, the people of Addu needed a leader who understood their plight, Addu people were told. The bitter defeat of Munavvar in the election was seen by some activists from Addu as a grand conspiracy, a masterplan by the Male' elite who did not want a person from Addu winning the leadership of MDP and quite possibly the leadership of Maldives in the future.

It is with these accusations, rumours, grievances and resentment that the Congress of MDP ended. Ibra found himself increasingly accused of incompetence and his policies drew criticism from various circles of MDP. Some of the criticisms against Ibra did not have much substance and it could be attributed to the state of denial some people remained after a bitter election defeat.

When MDP decided to organize demonstrations to protest against the Gayoom regime, rumours surfaced again that Ibra was against demonstrations. There was also talk in town that Anni was favouring protests and that there were some divisions between Anni and Ibra. When MDP's demonstration was officially brought to an end at 6.00 pm on 24th January, fingers were once again pointed at Ibra. However, majority of MDP members and supporters agreed that it was a good idea to stop the demonstration before the regime could incite the violence it so conveniently foretold on state television.

Divisions between Ibra and Anni are not just mere rumours anymore. After Ibra's recent threat to resign, the news has been reported by the media sympathetic to MDP. The fallout between Anni and the person whom some people accuse Anni of collaborating during the leadership election has been a shock to a number of MDP members and supporters.

While I agree with most of what Ahmed Naseer has expressed in a recent article in Minivan News concerning the current crisis, I totally disagree with the following remark: "If Ibra is unable to see eye to eye with his Shadow Cabinet members on a frequent basis, then he must gracefully exit and make space for other potential leaders so that the ground gained so far is not lost."

First of all the Shadow Cabinet of MDP is not elected by the members of MDP. It is formed by the President of MDP. Even though the current procedures for electing the President are not ideal, the President has more legitimacy than the Shadow Cabinet. If Ibra faces frequent fallouts with his cabinet members, he can remove those members and appoint new ones.

The whole idea of a Shadow Cabinet is still a bit puzzling to me. I know that it has stemmed from the aspirations of influential leaders within MDP who personally favour the Westminster system – leaders such as Anni and Ibra. However, from what we hear, MDP is favouring the Presidential system to be in place after the constitution is revised. Shadow Cabinet member Mariya Ahmed Didi is the only person who convincingly told a single reason why a Shadow Cabinet has to be there. In a General Meeting of MDP, she explained that members of the Shadow Cabinet will act like shadows to their counterparts in the government's cabinet, watching and monitoring their actions and performance.

Relying so much on a Shadow Cabinet, which is a feature of Westminster system, while MDP favours a Presidential system, is characteristic of the confusion that seems to be norm of MDP.

A number of MDP members and supporters feel that the whole reform process is in a dangerous deadlock. The government is refusing to release the political prisoners; the amendment of constitution at People's Majlis is moving painfully slowly. Increasing numbers of people are getting fed up with the General Meetings held by MDP. It is a bit boring to listen to the same rhetoric repeated all over again. It is simply not enough to call for Gayoom's resignation or boast that MDP will be in power soon, or very soon, or within a few months.

Several people believe that if MDP does not bring something new to the political scene, and inject fresh ideas, Gayoom will start gaining ground. Gayoom's regime has already done a rebranding exercise and their new born baby, the 'New Maldives', is being marketed both within and outside Maldives with a great fervour. Hardly a week goes by without a visit from the wonder boys of New Maldives, the self-proclaimed young geniuses of Gayoom’s cabinet, to the atolls of Maldives to spread their message. Surely there are areas of Maldives which are not strongholds of MDP. What is MDP doing to secure support from such areas?

These are prime concerns of MDP members and well-wishers. If Ibra, who has been elected with high hopes, cannot deliver, if he cannot provide the people some plans or vision, then he should "gracefully exit". If Ibra is unwilling to follow the sentiments of MDP members and if he intends to follow his own plans for MDP, then he may as well resign. If he is willing to follow the sentiments of MDP members and work with team spirit, then he should continue. He should not bother about his Shadow Cabinet members.

It will not be easy to hold another Congress and have another leadership election soon in the even that Ibra resigns. Another election will also lead to a widening of the divisions within MDP. However, if another election becomes necessary, let’s hope that it will be more democratic than the first one.

Anni deserves praise for his relentless efforts to make MDP more democratic. He was in Dhoonidhoo when the preparations for MDP's leadership election started. Soon after he was transferred to house arrest, he expressed his concerns over the way the election would be held. He urged cell leaders to listen to the views of members of cells before they voted. Anni admitted that there were faults with the MDP constitution which was drafted rather hastily. Promoting internal democracy within MDP should not be a task left only to Anni. The National Council must take initiative to reform MDP's constitution speedily if they want to avoid more confrontations within the party and more grievances of members.

It is very difficult for people of different ideologies to work together. A split within MDP is inevitable given the differing ambitions, intentions and plans of the people involved. If power is what attracts some of them, if they have plans to form a party in the future, they may as well do so now. However, the only point that is holding them back is they realize that whoever splits from the party now will not be able to gain support easily at the moment. Sadly MDP is like train station where passengers do not have a common destination but are waiting in transit.

My belief is that a split leading to exit of some people, or even formation of new political parties, from the current elite of MDP will be healthy to MDP rather than working with concealed resentment and pretension. However, a number of people who see MDP's task limited only to toppling Gayoom will disagree.

The defection of Qasim Ibrahim to DRP was a healthy turn of events as it exposed the facade behind which he stood. It naturally shocked the people who saw him not only as a philanthropist and tycoon but as their saviour and possibly leader. However, for people with doubts about him, it proved that their concerns were valid. The whole affair could be said to have cleansed MDP considerably.

Those who still opt to be onboard should work with a set of common goals. Or else they should jump ship.

It is time to reflect. It is time to go back to the days following September 2003, when the shock over what happened in that fateful month was still fresh in minds, when a group of dissidents left their homes and loved ones and went into self exile. It is time to bring back the mood, the resolve, the goals and objectives felt and perceived in a series of meetings in hotel lobbies in Colombo. It is time to go back to those meetings held in cafes of Male' when the parliament so conveniently rejected the request by 42 people to form a political party.

We have come a long way, but it is still a long road ahead. And may be some things have changed in your heads, but nothing has changed in reality.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Nothing Lasts Forever

“So never mind the darkness,
We still can find a way,
‘Cause nothing lasts forever,
Even cold November rain.”

- November Rain, written by Axl Rose, Album: Use Your Illusion 1, Band: Guns and Roses,

This whole month of November it has been raining continuously. Strangely, hardly a day goes by without rain. It rains for long hours. People crisscross puddles, umbrellas sprout on streets, and we seem to live in Seattle, Perth or Limerick.

I can remember how I felt when I saw a cloud drifting from the East. The rustle of a breeze hinting at finer weather; a dark cloud promising sunshine. When wind and clouds sweep from an easterly direction, we are witnessing the approach of the Northeast monsoon – the Iruvai monsoon, with its clear blue skies and smooth seas.

I can also remember a particularly heavy rain that flooded several streets of Male’ in early November. It rained for a few hours, but it must have been one of the heaviest rainfalls of this year.

But what I remember most about those early November days is the spirit with which the democracy movement soared. The meetings in cafés, reassurances between friends, and preparations for journeys.

As the month ends we are in a slightly different mood. More than 100 people, who wanted a better future for the Maldives, were needlessly imprisoned, following arbitrary arrests and after cruel and inhuman torture. Several of them remain under detention, brutally separated from their families, languishing in a world of isolation.

The black clouds are rolling down, day and night. The temperature falls below the normal levels, sending shivers down the spine.

A group of people, to whom people looked with hope, remain fragmented and in apparent chaos. Power struggles are being played behind closed doors, knives are stabbed in the back, and flames of rivalries are rekindled.

Male’ is cold and dark, bleak and foreboding. It is in such times that humans hope.

Things may look bleak but our future is by no means clouded. What is the most evident sign of a better future for us is the courage we are finding. The courage that a woman displays as she is handcuffed, dragged across the street, and put in a police van to be taken to a notorious prison. On an early November day, I saw her waving to the onlookers with both her arms locked in handcuffs. Even though she was behind the dark glasses of a van, I saw bravery in her face.

Or let’s discuss the strength of the passengers in a fishing vessel, as it traveled through choppy seas, making a long journey from the southernmost atoll of the Maldives, towards Male’. For us their journey was an epic moment, no less grand than the travels of Zheng He, the admiral of Ming Empire’s navy, from the shores of China, across the Pacific and Indian Oceans, in 15th century. The adventures of the dhoni from Addu, as it crossed the one and half degree channel, may as well be written down in our history books, in the same manner Maldivian hero Mohamed Thakurufaanu and his crew of the Kalhuoffhummi are glorified.

It is with this courage we are facing and conquering the fear that has kept us subjugated for decades. In our fight against tyranny, being imprisoned is no longer a fear, but rather a matter of pride.

In an article I wrote earlier this year I discussed the already visible cracks and divisions within MDP.

“It is very difficult for people of different ideologies to work together. A split within MDP is inevitable given the differing ambitions, intentions and plans of the people involved. If power is what attracts some of them, if they have plans to form a party in the future, they may as well do so now. However, the only point that is holding them back is they realize that whoever splits from the party now will not be able to gain support easily at the moment. Sadly MDP is like train station where passengers do not have a common destination but are waiting in transit.

“My belief is that a split leading to exit of some people, or even formation of new political parties, from the current elite of MDP will be healthy to MDP rather than working with concealed resentment and pretension.

“Those who still opt to be onboard should work with a set of common goals. Or else they should jump ship.”

What I see today is MDP going through a process of purification. I have no doubts that from the fragmented remains, a vibrant opposition to the regime will emerge. The strength and courage of the Maldivians yearning for democracy is the sign we are all looking for. With our combined strength and determination we can be ‘a force more powerful.’

So let’s look forward for the day “when your fears subside, and shadows still remain.” The tyranny that is robbing the hopes and dreams of so many generations of Maldivians will ultimately end. Nothing lasts forever. Even this cold rain.

Note: This article was sent to Minivan News in November 2006 but they did not publish it. The website, which had published my articles in the past, did not give a reason for not publishing it. I understand that they must have their own reasons.