Trouble in paradise: democracy vs autocracy in the Maldives



hey it's Lou and some wild shit is going down in the Maldives the country a string of some 1,200 picture-perfect islands in the Indian Ocean is frequently described as heaven on earth but mal debian politics they're an authoritarian hellscape a brazenly corrupt government uses gangs for hire to terrorize critics dissidents are arbitrarily jailed or disappeared attending a protest speaking your mind practicing journalism those are all very dangerous endeavors the irony is this is a country that pushed out a dictator and tried building a democracy just a decade ago unfortunately that experiment failed can it be tried again or will this paradise descend further into tyranny in July 1965 the Maldives gained independence from the British thirteen years later an Islamic scholar named mamoon guy whom became president Gayoon would become the longest-serving leader in Asia winning six unopposed elections he also survived a coup attempt in the 1980s gyeom improved the economy and turned the Maldives into one of the premier tourist destinations in the world but he's also been described as a dictator who ruled with an iron fist critics claim his 30 year reign was characterized by cronyism nepotism corruption and the stifling of political dissent critics were exiled others were just plain old tortured some were handcuffed to coconut trees and covered in sugar water ants would eat them simultaneously guy you bought loyalty through a patronage system he filled the government with folks who he could control who wouldn't challenge his power or prosecute his corruption JJ Robinson authored the fascinating book the Maldives Islamic Republic tropical autocracy told me despite this intimidation and the manipulation Gayoom was seen as a father figure an authority on all things Islam who is almost above reproach his reputation was nearly godlike keep in mind this isn't a very strict Islamic society where booze is as illegal as heroin and where extramarital sex is punished with flogging well not for the tourists but that's a contradiction tolerated for the sake of the economy anyway gyuhan status as a religious scholar made his autocratic tendency tolerable but that changed in 2003 what a 19 year old prisoner was killed by a guard his mother displayed his brutalized corpse to the public here was undeniable proof of the regime's cruelness the violent suppression of subsequent protests underscored that point then in 2004 a tsunami dealt a major blow to the country the economic destruction totaled over 60% of GDP guy whom was vulnerable mal divvy ins wanted change pressure was coming from the international community – so guy who offered some reforms a new constitution was written but more importantly guy Jung promised that the 2008 election would be free and fair a journalist and activist named Mohamed Nasheed became the chief opposition candy machine had actually been arrested 23 times under guy whom for critical coverage he had been tortured and spent 18 months in solitary confinement he got his revenge at the ballot box his successful campaign finally toppled the autocrat the world celebrated the fact that the Maldives had embraced democracy the international accolades continued to roll in as the sheet introduced universal health care set up a pension system and offered welfare as single parents and the elderly he also revamped the tax code and created laws that allowed more people to profit from the tourism industry machine was also a big climate change advocate he held a cabinet meeting underwater to bring attention to how the issue was impacting the low-lying and very vulnerable Maldives money for environmental projects started pouring into the country good thing because the old regime had depleted the state coffers on their way out the door actually Gaia and his cronies never really left they lurked in the background and she'd sensed this later writing dictatorships don't always die when the dictator leaves office long after the revolutions powerful networks of regime loyalists can remain behind and can attempt to strangle their nascent democracies Patricia gozman a researcher at Human Rights Watch told me guy uses puppets still held many government posts especially in the uber powerful judiciary most of the judges had no training a quarter had criminal records 60% had than a grade seven education their only qualification was that they would do whatever guy who ordered nasheed never succeeded at getting rid of them plus the sheets coalition didn't have a majority in parliament so his agenda was undermined there now when the she did try to tackle some of the entrench powers by imprisoning a chief judge of the criminal court credibly accused of abuse of office well the old regime reared its ugly head and all hell broke loose police joined a violent protest against the sheet they distributed riot gear to other demonstrators so the tear gas from the military defending the she'd was ineffectual besides some of the military switched sides and actually joined in on the protest it was a chaotic confusing scene the she'd was trapped inside a military base a faction of the protesters went to the state broadcaster and switched the feed to a private pro-gun station this morning police took over the state broadcaster others went to the National Museum and destroyed artifacts associated with the Maldives pre-islamic history the items destroyed include one-of-a-kind Buddhist statues from the 12th century before Islam came to the islands some consider such things idols President Nasheed was dragged in front of TV cameras and forced to resign he later said he did it under duress no shit his vice president who had become a bit of a malcontent frenemy was sworn in there's evidence that the VP knew about Nasheed's forced resignation in advance but he played dumb claiming to be shocked and merely ready to step up and serve his country his wife wasn't so surprised she had gotten her hair done that morning for a mysterious special occasion many people in the Maldives saw this as a pre-planned coup not a spontaneous uprising to defend a dubious judge there were protests those were met with state sanctioned violence democracy was fading fast but there was a glimmer of hope about a year after Nasheed's resignation the Maldives were due for their next presidential election and the sheet sought to regain his seat his successor the former VP was deeply unpopular so his main opposition was gyeom's half-brother Abdulla yameen the election was suspicious the first round which Nasheed won handily was invalidated by the corrupt as always courts that created a bunch of controversies and a bunch of delays one of the delays was caused by someone slipping laxatives into the parliaments coffee eventually you mean Anna she'd go head-to-head in a runoff in his book Robinson describes you mean buying votes his supporters would literally hand out cash voters held out for higher and higher bribes you mean also painted Nasheed as a bad Muslim a secularist influenced by foreigners bent on undermining Islam at the end of the day after all these dubious campaign irregularities you mean one a guy human family member was back in power and once again he turned the Maldives into an autocracy with a well connected got rich and the citizenry got repressed Amnesty International said human rights in the country have been in a freefall amantha law a program coordinator transparency Maldives told me Amin controls Parliament so he can tweak laws and amend the Constitution to suit his needs this gives the administration the facade of legality and legitimacy but they really use state institutions to execute their own self-dealing agenda Gossman told me the regime uses intentionally broad and vaguely worded laws to arrest intimidate and imprison critics negatively influencing the government or state whatever the hell that means is defined as terrorism the right to assemble has been deteriorated at one protest according to allegations in the Human Rights Watch report police move their barricade behind law-abiding protesters and then arrested the protesters for supposedly crossing said barricade the Amin's government has also jailed opposition leaders ten of the country's 16 political parties have been shut down former President Nasheed was arrested and sentenced to 13 years in prison on politically motivated charges he sought refuge in the UK where attorney Amal Clooney represented him then there's the violence Robinson told me a lot of the state's brutality has been contracted out to street gangs who originally specialized in the drug trade now they do you means dirty work one gang set fire to a TV station critical of the regime journalists had been threatened with machetes gozman told me all this is done with complete impunity with you means protection the gangs never get punished the law told me the connection between the gangs and the ruling party is totally brazen the violent enforcers appear on stage at campaign rallies they participate in photo ops no one tries to hide it in fact one of you means former vice president's asserted in text that he was the boss of all gangs in the Maldives that VP also ran a corruption scheme dubbed the bro economy the con was simple as outlined in a stunning al-jazeera documentary and a brand new report from the organized crime and corruption reporting project demeans intermediaries would sell Maldivian islands to resort developers and simply pocket the cash money that was supposed to go to the state instead went to yameen and his cronies the scam pulled in nearly eighty million dollars but you mean eventually became deeply paranoid that's not a surprise this is a guy who reportedly has practitioners of black magic working for so after a small explosion on his boat probably an accident since international investigators found no evidence of a bomb you mean accused the bro economy VP of an assassination attempt that guy was jailed other ministers were replaced or arrested all this got a little too much even for the corrupt judiciary whether or not they sold their allegiance to a different political parties the topic of speculation in the Maldives but whatever the case in February 2018 the judiciary ruled that political prisoners should be set free you mean was not happy about this he declared a state of emergency and arrested the offending judges his police force blocked rival politicians from entering Parliament thereby preventing legislative reforms he even jailed his half-brother guy you yes the former dictator was put in prison the two autocrats longtime family rivals had a falling-out over how the government accepted bids for the sale of islands the UN said all these moves were tantamount to an all-out assault Democracy Now the state of emergency was eventually lifted but you mean has kept a tight grip on the levers of the government the law told me he now operates with complete impunity all checks and balances have been eliminated meanwhile Islamic extremism is flourishing in the country where the Constitution requires every citizen to be a Muslim by some accounts the Maldive sent more fighters per capita to Syria and Iraq than any other country a bunch of multi viens recently held an elaborate reenactment of 9/11 in which a model plane on a zipline crash into a mock Twin Tower which was then lit on fire look it's all one twisted crazy weird and very corrupt situation and one you're not going to read about on tourism brochures for those on vacation ignorance is bliss and I haven't even touched on the global grand game dynamic through there one belt one Road initiative China keeps pouring more and more money into the country for strategic purposes gasping told me the Chinese simply turn a blind eye towards although human rights abuses meanwhile India is getting nervous that the Chinese are making inroads into a neighboring country that they once heavily influenced so the Maldives are also a pawn in a bigger game and in this complex environment on September 23rd the presidential election was held all the experts I spoke to said they were not expecting the election to be free or fair they all suspected that you mean would somehow lie cheat and steal his way to another repressive presidential term and in fact on the night before the vote the police raided the campaign headquarters of Eumenes biggest rival that's Ibrahim Mohamed soli meanwhile several international observers who were supposed to monitor the legitimacy of the election couldn't enter the Maldives because they were never issued visas the fix seemed to be in but in a jaw-dropping turn of events solely one voters pushed out you mean the autocrat the overwhelming advantages he had including the incumbency and control over the state's institutions including the impunity and shamelessness to intimidate and harass opponents those weren't enough when it mattered most Maldivians chose democracy it was a type of pleasant surprise that both rattled my cynicism and represents a major victory for freedom and human rights questions still linger about the transition from you means autocratic regime to the newly elected one well so Lee's reform efforts be plagued by the same government holdovers that ultimately brought down nasheed can institutions like the traditionally corrupt and incompetent judiciary and police forces be reformed for what it's worth you mean did offer a concession so perhaps he's willing to hand over power peacefully perhaps this time around the second time around democracy will flourish in the Maldives as a newly elected president said in his victory speech this is a moment of happiness hope and history

32 thoughts on “Trouble in paradise: democracy vs autocracy in the Maldives

  • Notice: When "Wild Shit" is going on, Lou is not content to simply live his life. Lou will only go on with his life as usual when he starts the segment with "Here's the thing"

  • You are fake news! You have taken most of your news from the Maldives independent, the economist, Washington post, CNN which are all owned by Zionists. Good luck with your one sided propaganda!

  • The election result wasn't rigged because India warned an invasion and had a standing navy just outside it's backyard.

  • A video on Zimbabwe could be interesting. Since Mugabe got kicked out in the coup, things are looking tough, some say it's tough measures to get the country back on track others say one dictator out and another in. Could be a good one Lou?

  • China is very powerful country and strong army Hindu terrieist estat india poor country Chinese you are Top.

  • Same shit is happening in all autocracies. Look at Turkey, Russia, same thing, same thing…money controls everything. It's a damned world

  • I think you'r misunderstanding something democracy means tyranny by the majority not freedom better that autocracy but democracy doesn't mean your free just that the decision making is handled differently its the decisions that matter not who's making them.

  • Think how stupid the average person is. Now give him the same value as a smart person.
    This is how democracy works. It's stupid.

  • i m happy to see every autocrat dictatorship get swallowed by the global warming they don´t believe in but which they profit over thanks to their corporate energy donors

  • Make it the best tax heaven ever!!!
    Make it that if you buy even a coconut you are considered a citizen and pay ZERO tax as well as your company 😀😀😀

  • Thank you for the video! I work and live in Maldives for two years already and yes – political system is hell of a mess here, but no one really tries to explain foreigners what's going on. Thank you!

  • I have been in the Maldives just before the elections and all maldivians said they love yameen. I guess because their afraid.

  • Autocracy is probably the only way they will stay afloat. But it is more for the tourist than the people. While democracy tries to balance both but will fail as the people want what's best for them maybe turning on its economy.

  • Yameen won because of the support of several rich party leaders. Many of them hired a lot of people in their respective companies and were the source of income for many maldivian families. Even with the support, Yameen won only by a small margin. Yameens mistake was that he turned on all of them after being elected. These party leaders switched sides over to the opposition which saw a lot of votes come in. Things are peaceful now but dont make any bets untill the next month when presidents switch. Yameen is not the kind of guy to step down without a fight.

  • don't think for a second that the current resident of 1600 pennsylvania ave wouldn't strive for this. If he [trUmP] looses the next election, what shit will he try to negate an election?

  • Muslim countries will only experience true prosperity when they turn to more secular governments. Religion, especially Islam, allows for very autocratic practices.

  • This makes me contemplate what degree environmental degradation (including climate change and rising sea levels) have had, if any, towards this deterioration in government.

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