The problem with living in a country of just over 360,000 people is the fact that practically every one is a relative, a business partner or a classmate. Add multi party politics into that mix, and things really do start hitting the fan. Not a reason not to have it of course, and in my opinion, most definitely not a reason to shut up, for the sake of ‘peace’, as many have suggested in the last month.
Of course things have been hitting the fan at a faster rate than usual in the last few weeks in the Maldives. Fathers as dictatorial leaders, dissenting uncles, opportunistic in-laws, self-righteous siblings, colourless cousins and protesting mothers to name a few have probably made Maldivian households not the most easiest places to be for many since February 7. No doubt, there are many a family and friendship group going through some very tense conversations. ‘Was it a coup? Is it police brutality? Whose side are you on?
It has taken me awhile to learn this, and maybe with age does come a wisdom tinged with cynicism, that not everybody, no matter how hard you try will get on the same page, and that blood is not thicker than water. So, I may not understand, but I will respect the rights of people who are either members or support political parties other than my own. After all, a multi party system and freedom of expression were issues which people fought hard for, and should not be taken lightly.
The only thing that the remnants of my idealism are having trouble forgiving is the lack of more public condemnation with regards to police brutality. In my opinion, it is unacceptable for anybody, educated or not, political or apolitical, to look at the footage of February 8, of Maldivian Police officers beating the living day lights out of people, and not be sickened by it. As a result, I find myself avoiding certain family members and ignoring certain friends purely for the fact that I am so angry with their silence for the sake of political gain or in the name of ‘public peace’, that I can’t talk to them, let alone look at them. Clearly, I’m not meant to be a politician. I have however decided that even for the sake of keeping the peace, I will not hesitate to condemn those who have jumped in bed with torturers, legitimised a brutal regime or justify attacks by saying, ‘well if you stayed at home, you wouldn’t have been baton charged, pepper sprayed, tear gassed etc.’
If there is one thing that the people – both the colourless and the colourful – must decide to agree on, it is that violence – state sponsored or politically motivated – is intolerable. If you don’t take a stand on anything else, at least take a stand on this. In the naïve hope that a more universal condemnation of brutality will send a message to those leading it, I urge you to let your voice be heard. You don’t necessarily have to be out on the streets, just make it a point to condemn brutality in any forum, by any means. In your grandfather’s house, in your uncle’s shop, in your favourite cafe’, or on that Facebook page, dont tolerate the brutality of 7th – 8th February or the belittling of it. We cannot afford not to.