The first trickle of unease and fear began in my heart when Umar Naseer came out with his ladder theory. My anxiety meter ratcheted up to a level that made me blurt out that Umar Naseer was calling out in front of an audience to topple an elected government and someone needs to do something about it. But alas, like almost every chaos inciting speech that had been made by the opposition movement that had been holding protests for longer than 2 weeks was ignored. Of course for a President that believes the best in people who was busy trying to fulfill all his pledges before the 5 year term was up, Nasheed did not have the time to spare and neither did his administration. But the protests that were started off with the arrest of the infamous Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed seemed to be the beginning of the end. Or perhaps the beginning of the end lay somewhere further along the way when Velezinee tried to bring everyone’s attention to the atrocities that were being committed by the Judicial Service Commission, the Judiciary watchdog of the country. Needless to say, everyone else to whom I voiced my worries regarding Umar Naseer’s statement scoffed off my worries.
And so on the night of the 6th of February 2012, as usual I went to bed not knowing the next day would be one of the saddest days of my life. That I would wake up to find a level of chaos that this country has not seen during recent times and that I would see the President I voted for during the 2008 election forced to resign because the opposition had gained a far more tensile sort of momentum which had gained further strength upon the addition of mutinying police and military officers joining with the protesters to uphold the “law and order” of the country.
Since I never switched on the television or the radio before heading to work, I never knew anything was wrong until I was well on my way to work. I knew something was off when I heard people shouting. Since Velaanaage is pretty close to the Republic Square area, the shouts of the angry protesters and rioting police & military officers could be heard all over. And upon asking one of my colleagues who conspiratorially whispered to me that the police and military have also joined “the people”, I knew then and there that what I had feared that night was indeed turning into reality.
As the morning progressed, things went from bad to worse. Majority of people at work place cheered on a coup as it happened something that broke my heart and made me so frustrated with people’s attitudes. Half of them didn’t even know what was happening, why this was happening, but the fact that the smear campaign that had been ongoing ever since Nasheed’s term had begun had taken effect and gotten deep rooted in their subconscious. Even now if you ask most people who thinks Nasheed deserved to be toppled from power in such a manner would always start throwing around “Judge Abdulla Mohamed”, “unconstitutional orders” etc. It doesn’t matter that the judge in question was one who was under investigation by the Judicial Service Commission themselves for incompetency and untoward acts committed by him in his capacity as a judge. But as they say, “lies spread like wildfire, consuming everything within their path.” In this instance it was the already small minds of the people who have seldom being taught to think on their own and reason out during a 30 year dictatorship.
I never did read through all the live reporting that was done on Haveeru or Sun of the events that took place that day. For one thing my heart and emotions couldn’t take it. For another I was just too frustrated with everything that had happened, the loss of so much within just a couple of hours of the day. I don’t think that I can still adequately describe the upheaval that my emotions went through that day. And the only saving grace was the support of my family who thankfully are not divided in the opinion of what took place that day. However I did take the time to save the timeline of events on Sun.mv though because you never know when the “facts” will become distorted in a country like ours that is always ripe for storytelling.
Reading through the timeline (which I have translated and uploaded here for anyone who would like to take a look), the inability or rather the inaction by the military to uphold the oath they have taken is the most glaring failure of the night and the 7th of February as it dawned. Such inaction by the military officers as the riots first started at the Artificial Beach, acting as mere spectators of a gory event as it unfolded in front of them is simply something unacceptable. There came countless times when they could have brought the situation under control. But perhaps the command structure which had pretty much failed in an institution where following orders as they are handed down is top priority was the main reason behind the rapid escalation of the events. And when intervention did come, I would say it just came too little, too late.
The question that has always remained utmost on my mind ever since the Feb 7th is how can I trust a military that couldn’t protect the elected president of the country from a mob of police officers that had gone rogue? How could military officers give into emotion and start shedding tears like a group of wussies who couldn’t put their duty and the country first because their “friends” were the ones they had to confront? Some might say let bygones be bygones but I am someone who used to respect people who work in the armed forces but now I have nothing but disdain for the uniform they wear which is a joke unto itself.
One other question that kept poking at my subconscious when going through the timeline was where was President Nasheed when all this was happening? Why wasn’t he informed earlier on? Was he informed and didn’t want to intervene that early on? And why so much hesitation on the military’s part to do the needful, to disperse the protesting officers and restore law and order in the city when it would have been possible in the wee hours of the morning? I guess the answer lies in Tholhath, the Defense Minister then, who in reality had all along being in cahoots with the opposition.
Tholhath’s betrayal to President Nasheed and members of the party is evident now when you look at the timeline with fresh eyes and a new perspective. It was partly his doing that led the situation to the level it deteriorated then. In the end nothing justifies the toppling of a people elected government by a bunch of hooligans in uniform who chanted all over the city that they were finally upholding the law and order in the country and that they were doing it for Islam.
As we “mark” the one year anniversary of the coup that blinded international community and made countries like America and India that boasts of being the biggest democracies in the modern world turn their third eye blind towards us, the people who still voted for Nasheed wanting an end to the tyranny and injustice that has been part of the Maldivian life for too long to count still bleeds from their heart. I still bleed from my heart over the events that took place that day. My eyes still hold the tears that remains to be shed, my mind still goes crazy when I think of the absolute defiance to order and the gross misuse of power that police and military officers embroiled in on that fateful day.
There are lessons to be learned from all of this. That “hiythirikan” only takes you along so far. Patience and wanting to believe the good in the other person only works when the group of people who sit with you aren’t a pack of vultures, always analyzing which spot to pick on, which point to prick on you for you to bleed.
For one thing letting the media have free reign without any thought to the consequences of spreading vile untruths and half truths and spreading malice amongst society was a grave mistake. It was President Nasheed’s pledge to give the country and its people the freedom that they deserve, but perhaps the one glaring mistake his administration did was to leave this freedom unchecked. With great freedom comes also a great responsibility to do what’s right which somehow went unheeded by the media channels in their frenzy to create an environment of hatred towards the President of the country, of course with the backing of the old cogs of the previous regime whose hatred for a simple man who rose to the position of the President of this country had unleased an ever growing sense of jealousy and hatred in their hearts.
I blame President Nasheed for landing us in this position as well. He should have known better than to put his trust in the cogs who have been oiling the 30 year old regime machine better than the rest of us. He who suffered too numerous times to count from the injustice of a regime that was notorious for inhumane torture of the dissenting voices; Nasheed should have known better.
I blame MDP MP’s too. They should have stood by Velezinee when she was the lone voice that stood up against the beginning of the elements of the coup that was being put into motion within the walls of the so called judicial system of ours. Everyone stood by, let her scream her voice and the walls down, some turned their back on her in shame, others just laughed it over, made deals that would benefit them, and look where we are now? If everyone had stepped up to the plate, done what they were supposed to do and given Velezinee the support that she had needed so much then, maybe, just maybe we wouldn’t have ever had to see the atrocious events of the 7th of February 2012.
I’ll end this post with a poem I came across on Twitter, penned by Mickail Naseem for the one year “anniversary” of the coup, that struck a chord deep within me. Let’s hope that the day of reckoning for the traitorous lot is not too far away, that they face the punishment for the heinous crime against the votes and voices of the people of this country that would not drown out and fade away in its resonant call to restore democracy and rights of the people in this failed country of ours. Long live democracy! Long live people’s power!
“Surrounded by armed mutineers,
He stood with his resolve unwavering,
Constantly reminded of his family at risk,
His presidential self deemed duty most supreme,
Friends, colleagues and women beaten all the same
His cousin, his family, bleeding before his eyes
Years of sacrifice for liberty and freedom,
Still engulfed his selfless mind
A plea for mercy
Bellowing across the chaotic ground
The commander in chief
Begged from the rank and file
Pleas ignored, all hell broke loose
A general said, it’s time to shoot
Decided he was
No one should die
Resigned the president
In a blink of an eye“