Spa ces of con test ation

Each day brings the unexpected, but for me, tonight was no different than any other since February 7. I was compelled onto the streets by the determined energy of President Nasheed and the vision many of us share with him.

People stream down from Usfasgandu to start the rally, not knowing where we’ll end up. This is usual. Around here, no one seems to ever know the destination. Yet still we move forward. There’s no map to guide us, but maybe we already know where this journey ends? Some safe harbour that is just and fair, where freedom and liberty are upheld. A place where we work together for the happiness and contentment all people strive for, where equality and justice prevail.

But tonight we find ourselves near the supreme court of the Maldives. Seeing my fellow Maldivians calling each other traitors, as I have before, and likely will again, I grow uneasy. I question my convictions. If only this court or any other could answer what is truly right or wrong, but there is simply what one can justify and what we can’t. Is it just these judges and the security forces serve institutions that upholds an illegal regime? Is it just to inflict continual brutality on citizens who struggled so long for freedom? Is it just our human rights are trampled and violated now that we must do it again? I tell myself no and harden my resolve.

Every time I see a security personnel now I can’t help but wonder if this is one of the traitors. My mind plays a “spot the traitor” game. The rules are simple. You train your gaze on a person, looking for anything that might reveal them, an expression on their face, a particular stance maybe. The hardest to guess are army personnel. The easiest seem to be the police.

Most of the time, the police’s mission seems to be one of spreading chaos. Their formula is predictable. When we protest, we are first confronted and then agitated. Batons come out and the hiss of pepper spray fills the night. A couple of us are snatched from the assembly to be indefinitely detained. They have their shields and water cannons ready to hold us at bay until the special forces arrive to disperse the crowd.

The police abuse their power to keep the boundaries shifting, to make us unsteady and unsure, to make us doubt what is public space. We are expected to respect their barricades, but they permit no space between them and us. There is still a constitution, and it permits all citizens of our country the freedom to assemble. If the police don’t honor the constitution and this right, what do they honor? Who do they serve?

Tonight was no different. We are shoved aside and pushed away by their force. We funnel down the opposite street. The space we demonstrated, outside the halls where men pretend to serve justice, is cleared once again. One man remains, voice cracked with emotion, speaking alone some of the words the others had no chance to speak.

I see him hold his position as I disperse. He is held steady by the rights enshrined in the Maldivian constitution signed inside those same halls. He speaks the values those judges were sworn in pledging to protect. Now that institution trades in silence and intimidation, the blunt, shameful tools of cowardice.

I do not know how long he stood his ground before those same forces that left President Nasheed no option but resignation swept him away.



  1. Ba-ks says:

    Beautifully written. Saabahey.

  2. l... says:

    so true,,,,, i agree with u every bit…the same question i ask again again myself…. Whats happening to our country? Our space,,, doesn’t feel like its ours anymore….no sense of belonging…. no power…no freedom….no life… when will this shit ends…. fed up… cant wait and watch anymore…. will do anything to end this shit…..

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