Anni, or Mohamed Nasheed, is no stranger to imprisonment. He spent 18 months in solitary confinement under the Gayoom dictatorship. He emerged from that to become President of the Maldives in its first democratic election. When he tried to reform the corrupted judiciary, however, Gayoom forces staged a coup and forced him out. In the next election Gayoom’s brother won (with a minority) and now his increasingly dictatorial government has arrested Anni on ridiculous terrorism charges – denying him bail and even access to a lawyer. It’s a travesty.
This is blatantly just an attempt to silence popular opposition in the Maldives. When a prosecutor dropped criminal charges of abuse of power, they tried to charge him under terrorism regulations. Which is completely nonsensical. The fact that he’s being denied a lawyer shows how ‘legal’ these proceedings are.
If international pressure can have an effect anywhere, it can influence the Maldives. Sri Lanka, India and – well, I suppose it’s too much to ask the Middle East to support democracy – but at least the Maldives direct neighbors should pressure Yameen Gayoom to grant Anni at the least access to bail and a lawyer to defend himself against these ridiculous charges. The Maldives fought hard to wrest democracy from the Gayoom family and it looks like the still have more fighting to do.