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Oppose the U.S. Backed Coup in the Maldives!
by Steven Argue
Friday Feb 10th, 2012 7:34 PM
On Tuesday, February 7, 2012 a coup carried out by armed police and military officers ousted the elected president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed. Nasheed’s government came to power in 2008 at the head of an anti-corruption and pro-democracy movement. Their movement forced the dictatorship of Maumoon Gayoom to hold elections which Nasheed won. Nasheed’s presidency has since been very active speaking out in the world arena on the desperate need for real action on climate change. Nasheed’s government was also vocal on the need for assistance from rich countries to the poorer ones to help them with problems caused by climate change, problems caused primarily by the pollution of the rich industrialized countries in the first place.

Both the United States and India quickly recognized the new coup regime as legitimate. In stark contrast, in 1988, a coup attempt against the Gayoom dictatorship was quickly put down by invading Indian troops that reinstalled Gayoom’s hated regime. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland confirmed that the Obama administration has been in contact with the new government and when asked if a coup had occurred spoke positively of a “national unity government” being formed and defended the new regime saying, “Our view as of yesterday, and I don’t think that has changed, obviously we will collect more information going forward, was that this was handled constitutionally.”
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[Photo: Ousted President Mohamed Nasheed publicized climate change by holding the first ever underwater cabinet meeting in 2009. Photo by Mohamed Seeneen, National Geographic]

Oppose the U.S. Backed Coup in the Maldives!

By Steven Argue

On Tuesday, February 7, 2012 a coup carried out by armed police and military officers ousted the elected president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed. Nasheed’s government came to power in 2008 at the head of an anti-corruption and pro-democracy movement. Their movement forced the dictatorship of Maumoon Gayoom to hold elections which Nasheed won. Nasheed’s presidency has since been very active speaking out in the world arena on the desperate need for real action on climate change. Nasheed’s government was also vocal on the need for assistance from rich countries to the poorer ones to help them with problems caused by climate change, problems caused primarily by the pollution of the rich industrialized countries in the first place.

The tiny Maldives, with a population of about 300,000 people and an economy primarily dependent on tourism; is in a difficult position to stand-up to hegemony of U.S. imperialism and climate change, but they have done so in some impressive ways.

In Copenhagen, at the alternative climate summit, after speaking of the victory of the pro-democracy movement in the Maldives, President Mohamed Nasheed declared:

“We are here to save our planet from the silent, patient, and invisible enemy that is climate change. And just as there were doubters in the Maldives [about the victory of the democracy movement], so there are doubters in Copenhagen. There are those who tell us that solving climate change is impossible. There are those who tell us taking radical action is too difficult. There are those who tell us to give up hope. Well, I am here to tell you that we refuse to give up hope. We refuse to be quiet. We refuse to believe that a better world isn't possible. I have three words to say to the doubters and deniers.

“Three words with which to win this battle. Just three words are all I need. You may already have heard them. Three - Five - Oh. Three - Five - Oh. Three - Five - Oh, saves the coral reefs. Three - Five - Oh, keeps the Arctic frozen. Three - Five - Oh, ensures my country survives. Three - Five - Oh, makes a better world possible.”

“Three - Five – Oh”, refers to a target of 350 parts per million (PPM) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a number that is recognized by leading scientists as the upper limit of safe levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Jim Hansen and a team of researchers looking at data of the paleo-climate and real-time observation announced that this 350 PPM is the upper limit of allowable atmospheric carbon if we wish to have a planet "similar to the one on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted." That number has not been refuted; but has been repeatedly confirmed by new evidence. A recent example of this is a report by oceanographers that reports atmospheric levels above 360 PPM will destroy coral reefs world-wide.

Due in large part to the burning of fossil fuels, the present level of atmospheric carbon dioxide has risen to about 390 PPM. The current trend is continued increases of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and with it a direct correlation in the rise in global temperatures. This is causing many problems already including rising sea levels. Sea levels rise for two reasons with global heating. The first is increased glacial melt in mountains as well as near the poles adding more to the volume of water in the oceans. The second is that warmer oceans cause water to expand and take-up more space. Low lying areas of the world like Florida, the Maldives, and much of Vietnam and Bangladesh are faced with the threats of increasing erosion with rising water and decreasing land mass. If the world continues on its current course, these places will be under ocean waters in the not so-distant future causing millions of people to become refugees and destroying some of the world’s most productive farmland. Likewise, the rapid disappearance of mountain glaciers will eliminate the availability of fresh water for drinking and agriculture in many parts of the world. These are just some of the problems being caused by climate change. The Global Humanitarian Forum has reported that climate change already kills 300,000 people per year.

To illustrate the point of rising oceans, Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed held a legislative session under water. At Copenhagen Mohamed Nasheed also announced a goal of making the Maldives carbon neutral, a plan that was being implemented before the coup. While a small nation like the Maldives becoming carbon neutral won’t solve the carbon crisis, it is leadership by example that puts wealthy nations like the United States to shame.

In contrast, the United States is the worst carbon polluter in the world and is taking no significant steps to change that fact. Some contest this saying China pollutes more. This claim, however, doesn’t hold-up to scrutiny. China presently has a carbon output per capita that is only ¼ of the United States. If the U.S. would reduce its carbon output to the level of China the world would be in much better shape. Not only is the current per capita carbon output of China much lower than the United States, their historic output is much lower as well. The only thing China is guilty of in comparison to the United States is being a bigger country. Yet, the United States, including under Obama, has sabotaged international climate talks by ignoring these facts and putting unreasonable demands on developing countries like China in an attempt to ignore U.S. responsibility.

Likewise, the Obama administration has not carried out promises to use the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. This reflects the fact that Obama, like Bush, is an oil president. Along with the money of other big capitalists, Obama was elected with the money of the oil and gas industries from which he received $884,000 for his 2008 run for president. In return, he has helped these capitalists by failing to attempt to place greenhouse gas emissions under EPA regulation (despite promising to do so), refusing to participate in good faith in international negotiations on climate change, and failing to take adequate measures to regulate offshore drilling, among other things. In addition, the fact that Obama is an oil president is likely a reason for his administration’s rapid recognition of the new Maldive government as a legitimate transfer of power. More on that in a minute, first some background on the history of the Maldives.

The Maldives were granted formal independence from Britain in 1965, but no real changes were made. The Maldivian people suffered first under a monarchy and then under a series of corrupt presidents. Mohamed Nasheed’s government replaced that of the dictator Maumoon Gayoom. The presidency of Maumoon Gayoom was famous for corruption and human rights abuses including the arrest and torture of political dissidents. The 2003 death in custody of Hassan Eemaan Naseem sparked riots and repression across the country. At that time Gayoom’s National Security Service (NSS) were likened to the thugs of the Tonton Macoutes under the U.S. imposed Duvalier dictatorship in Haiti.

Yet, despite repression under Gayoom, a mass movement against corruption emerged that forced the country’s first multi-party elections in 2008 electing Mohamed Nasheed to the presidency. Mohamed Nasheed was active in the movement against Gayoom’s dictatorship since 1990 when he started publishing the political magazine called “Sangu”. For his activities he was imprisoned 12 different times, tortured twice, spending months in solitary confinement with Amnesty International documenting these crimes of the Gayoom regime.

The working class played an important role in forcing the Gayoom dictatorship to hold the 2008 elections. After the election of Nasheed, trade unions were then finally legalized in the Maldives. An important union that was legalized is the Tourism Employees Association of Maldives (TEAM).

Under Mohamed Nasheed some of the blatant human rights abuses of the Gayoom regime were curtailed, unions were legalized, and advances were made on climate change, but the military, police, and judiciary who carried out those abuses remained in their positions of power. Along with Nasheed taking no steps to dissolve the capitalist government that has now overthrown him, he also did nothing to overthrow the exploitative capitalist system. He represented a step forward challenging the world imperialist status quo on climate change and union rights, but did not take further steps needed to dissolve the old power.

Some important human rights abuses continued under Nasheed’s capitalist government as well. The Maldives remained a religious state, a Sunni Islamic State, where the public practice of other religions is illegal, as is the promotion of other religions or atheism, and non-Muslims are prevented from becoming citizens. This comes from a 1997 constitution of the Gayoom dictatorship that designated Islam as the official state religion. Yet, Nasheed’s regime has not advanced religious tolerance. Instead, Nasheed created the Ministry of Islamic Affairs and put the Adhaalath Party in charge of it, a conservative party of religious fanatics. This Ministry of Islamic Affairs ordered the Communications Authority of the Maldives (CAM) to shut-down the blog of Ismail ‘Khilath’ Rasheed that advocates religious tolerance. His government temporarily in imprisoned him as well. Likewise, homosexuality is illegal in the Maldives.

A growing movement of Islamic reaction has been fostered by the leadership of both major capitalist parties led by Gayoom and Nasheed. A recent gift from Pakistan of a statue of a lion was destroyed by Gayoom loyalists in 2011 as idolatrous. Maldives women are more amore being intimidated into wearing the veil by religious radicals who also call for the banning of music and the implementation of Sharia law. Ismail Mohamed Didi, a 25 year-old admitted atheist was murdered by religious fanatics after saying he was seeking asylum from religious intolerance in a foreign country. Another non-Muslim, Mohamed Nazim, went on national television in May 2010 apologizing for previous statements after his life was threatened by the Islamic Foundation of the Maldives, a non-governmental organization (NGO).

Yet, despite false reports by the Wall Street Journal and other corporate papers, it was not rising Islamic reaction and massive protests that forced Nasheed to resign. In fact, the protest on the day that Nasheed was ousted only counted tens of people. In contrast, 3,000 people marched in support of Nasheed on February 8 facing off with violent security forces. What occurred was a direct coup carried out by “security” forces without any real civil unrest leading to Nasheed’s ouster.

After the election of Mohamed Nasheed, Gayoom left behind a government that was in many ways was still in his hands. This included a judiciary of his appointees that sheltered Gayoom and his loyalists from prosecution for human rights abuses and the looting of the national treasury. That government also included a pro-Gayoom police force and military that revolted on February 7th against the moves by the Nasheed government to arrest a corrupt judge appointed by Gayoom, Judge Abdulla Mohamed. These police and military officers seized the government; forcing Mohamed Nasheed to resign. Asked why he resigned, Nasheed said: "Because I didn't want them to go shooting our people. They were threatening me and they were threatening the people. I didn’t want that.“ The coup has now put the former vice president, Mohamed Waheed, in the seat of the presidency. Nasheed says he believes Mohamed Waheed was part of coup plot.

Immediately after the coup, thousands of Nasheed supporters protested in the streets where they clashed with government “security” forces. Warrants have been issued for the arrest of members of Nasheed’s government, but Nasheed remains outside of their custody. On February 10, 2012 hundreds of protesters came out to denounce the coup in the presence of Mohamed Nasheed, despite the fact an arrest warrant had been issued. One protester, Ali Malik, stated of the protest, "We are here because we just got news saying that the police are going to come and pick our president. So that is why we are here."

Both the United States and India quickly recognized the new coup regime as legitimate. In stark contrast, in 1988, a coup attempt against the Gayoom dictatorship was quickly put down by invading Indian troops that reinstalled Gayoom’s hated regime. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland confirmed that the Obama administration has been in contact with the new government and when asked if a coup had occurred spoke positively of a “national unity government” being formed and defended the new regime saying, “Our view as of yesterday, and I don’t think that has changed, obviously we will collect more information going forward, was that this was handled constitutionally.”

President Nasheed responded to the Obama administration saying, "It's unfortunate that the American government has decided to work with the regime...”

World outrage, including tens of thousands of signatures collected by 350.org have forced the State Department on February 10, 2012 and make a mealy mouthed attempt to sound less supportive of the coup, yet State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland had nothing to say of real substance that would change the State Department’s position of recognition for the coup regime.

History, including recent history under Obama, has shown that it doesn’t take much for the U.S. government to back coups against elected governments. The Obama administration’s participation in the 2009 coup against President Manuel Zelaya Rosales of Honduras is a similar such U.S. backed coup that was immediately given U.S. recognition. Like the Maldives, the Obama administration was quick to recognize the coup as a legitimate transfer of power and continued military aid to the Honduran military. It was also revealed that there was direct participation of officials from the Obama administration in planning the coup. The new coup government quickly brought back the death squads of the 1980s kidnapping, torturing, and murdering journalists and union leaders. Those death squad murders have continued. Despite international outrage, the United States was also quick to recognize the elections held by the coup government under those conditions of repression while much of the opposition boycotted it as an illegitimate election.

Whether or not the U.S. State Department or other agencies were directly involved in the overthrow of the Nasheed government, it has been made quite clear that the United States, as in Honduras, has no issues with this undemocratic transfer of power. Further more, statements of recognition indicate support for the coup.

The recognition by the governments’ of India and the United States of the new coup regime is rightly being denounced internationally. So is the headlong drive of the United States towards climate disaster. It is time for Americans to recognize what country is the biggest threat to the world’s democracies and the world’s environment.. The Revolutionary Tendency of the Socialist Party (RT-SP) seeks to build a movement in the United States that will end the corruption of oil money in American politics through the socialization of the oil industry under working class control, seeks to take emergency measures against climate change, and seeks to end U.S. imperialism through socialist revolution.


This is an article of Liberation News (not associated with the Stalinist PSL who stole our name), subscribe free:
https://lists.riseup.net/www/info/liberation_news

Check out the statement of purpose of the Revolutionary Tendency of the Socialist Party (RT-SP):
http://la.indymedia.org/news/2012/02/251336.php





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[Photo: Thousands of Protesters backing ousted President Mohammed Nasheed, Photo by Dinuka Liyanawatte, Reuters]

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake is visiting the Maldives this Saturday February 11th in the wake of the armed coup by police and military officers on February 7th. Rejecting calls by the overthrown elected president for “early” elections, Blake endorsed the position of the coup government under "President" Mohammed Waheed Hassan not to hold "early" elections.

The overthrown elected president, Mohamed Nasheed, has stated, “Only an early election will stabilize the country,” and is quite confident he would win such an election. Mass protests in favor of Nasheed, much bigger than any protests that ever opposed him, do back Nasheed's insistence that it is he who has the popular support, despite false reports in the American corporate newspapers that it was protests that toppled Nasheed's presidency.

Instead of backing the call for elections, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake took his endorsement of the coup government a step further, calling on Mohamed Nasheed's political party, the Maldivian Democratic Party, to join the coup government. Nasheed has responded that he will not be a part of the illegitimate coup government.