Jazeera Daily has reported that the President of the Maldives Human Rights Commission has expressed his concern over the Raa Kaaf Committee Elections held 27th October, Saturday. He has reportedly said that the “atholhuthakuge rayyithun” (citizens of the islands) should have been given the opportunity to vote in the local elections to elect a committee to advise the island administration on municipal / development matters. Jazeera reports that there are 27,000 such non-Male’ citizens who participated in the referendum to decide the form of government for Maldives.
I have some very interesting thoughts on the issue. But please be warned that I have to agree, that there is room for accusing that I will be prejudiced in my opinion, as I was party to the committee overseeing the Raa Kaaf Elections on the 27th of October.
The prejudice against those who are non-Male citizens of the Maldives are legalized in the Maldives through tradition, law of the land, and government regulations. This attitude is evident in the Human Rights Commissioner’s words “atholhuthakuge rayyitun”. I believe unless we are able to shake off this prejudice and consider all of us “dhivehi rayyithun” (Maldivian citizens) we will have the supremacy of the landlords. The Commissioner himself is a landlord and thus the attitude in understandable.
I would in fact argue, that as end-users of municipal services in Male’ and as citizens who have a right to live in the capital, so called non-Male’ citizens should in fact be allowed to vote in the local elections of Male’ Ward Committees. That would be their basic human right; to have a say in the decisions by local authorities that affect their daily lives, specially when previleged citizens have that right.
So, I was hoping that when the question was put to the Commissioner, he would react by pointing out how the rights of “island citizens” were eroded because they were not allowed to register for voting in the local elections in Male’.
(… more to come!)