Maldives ponders law banning anti-India protests

The Maldives government is considering bringing in a law that will, indirectly, criminalize the ongoing “India-Out” campaign spearheaded by former president Abdullah Yameen

Feb 01, 2022
Maldives ponders  law banning anti-India protests (Photo: Wire)

The Maldives government is considering bringing in a law that will, indirectly, criminalize the ongoing “India-Out” campaign spearheaded by former president Abdullah Yameen. The move came after authorities concluded the campaign poses threat to national security and risks the safety of both Indians living in the Maldives and Maldivians living in India.

The hate campaign, fuelled by opposition leaders for domestic political objectives, spread throughout the Indian Ocean archipelago in recent months, especially after the release of China-leaning Yameen from house arrest after his acquittal in a money laundering case in December last year. [ Read More]

The ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and its allies in the government have started formulating a bill that will criminalize any act by individuals that is deemed disruptive of the country’s diplomatic relations, reported Sun news.

Speaker Mahammed Nasheed said that the campaign posed threat to the country’s national security as it also puts the life of Maldivians living in India at risk. Nasheed, the archipelago's first democratically elected president, is one of the most prominent proponents of friendly ties with India.

In the last several weeks, anti-India graffiti and slogans started appearing on the walls of schools, and homes in several atolls. There were also reports of Indian teachers being harassed in a few schools.

The relations between the Maldives and India came under significant strain during Yameen’s reign as he sought to boost the country’s relations with China. Yameen, who ruled the country between 2013-2018, not only openly endorsed the campaign but has also vowed to spread it across the country. [Read More]

The campaign— initially started on social media platforms and later spread through physical rallies— seeks to end the perceived Indian military presence in the archipelago.

Amid growing anti-Indian sentiments, the Maldivian government under President Ibrahim Mohammed Solih seems to be struggling to defend its friendly ties. It repeatedly condemned the hate campaign and reiterated, on many occasions, that friendly ties with India are in the country's national interests. [Read More]

In December last year the government expressed “concern” over attempts to spread "misguided and unsubstantiated" information by "a small group of individuals and a few political personalities" aimed at propagating “hatred towards India", one of its closest bilateral partners. [Read More]

The Solih government also defended its security ties with foreign countries, reaffirming the country’s long-standing ties with “all its international partners", based on "principles of mutual respect and understanding, and in accordance with respective national and international law.” [Read more]

Last month in January, Foreign Minister Abdullah Shahid came down heavily on the "Indian Out" campaigners, saying the Maldives’s ties with New Delhi are not based on “a certain party, a certain administration or a certain individual”. The relations, he argued, are based on people-to-people ties.
“What I am trying to say is that India is a country that had lent assistance during major crises faced….Moreover, if you look at the history, assistance was not rendered because there was a certain person governing the Maldives. During different crises, different people were governing the Maldives”, he said in an interview last month. [Read More]


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