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Blake’s visit follows Maldives ditching UN panel report

07 May 2011,

The Maldivian foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem told journalists in Colombo that the UN report into human rights abuses in the closing days of Sri Lanka’s civil war is “singularly counterproductive,” reports Minivan News, an independent news service from Maldives, Saturday. Maldives is currently a member of the UN Human Rights Council.
This week, the US Asst. Secretary of State Robert Blake, after closeting with Sri Lanka’s defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa made a three-day visit to the Maldives. Eezham Tamils in UK, who support the Conservative Party that has considerable influence in deciding the foreign policy of Maldives should take a special note of what the Maldivian foreign minister has said, commented a diaspora political observer.

While in Maldives Mr. Blake highlighted Maldives’ role in engaging at the international level on global issues, especially the prominent role the Maldives is playing on the U.N. Human Rights Council, The Hindu reported Tuesday.

The Maldives has been a vocal member of the UN Human Rights Council, and was quick to sever diplomatic ties with the Libyan government following “clear evidence that the Gaddafi regime is guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes,” Minivan News said, making a contrast.

On the war crimes in Sri Lanka in which the Tamils were at the receiving end, the Maldives Foreign Minister was quoted saying during a press conference at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo that “The focus should now be on how the country can move forward.”

“As a responsible member of the Human Rights Council, the Maldives believes it is imperative that the international community closely examine all aspects of the report before taking any further action,” he said.

Meanwhile, Maldives President’s Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair came out with a different way of putting the issue that showed the guilty feeling in the Maldives government for the stand it had taken and the ‘constraints’ that might have made it to take up such a position.

Speaking to Minivan News, the Press Secretary asked, “I’m concerned the UN report is a bit belated. Why say it now? Why not when the war was going on?”

“My point is that this report only appeared after the war was over. We support the Sri Lankan government’s desire for peace and harmony, and any government that brought about that peace should be held in high honour,” Zuhair said.

The former president of the republic Mr. Gayoom was tightrope walking on international and regional issues. Even when a Tamil militant group was involved in a coup in the country in 1988, Mr Gayoom had the grace of not making his government or country siding with Colombo’s genocidal wars.

But the ‘democratically elected’ Maldives government of Mohamed Nasheed was quick to get into the vortex of the three-power competition in the region. Towards the end of the war, a Maldivian military representative participated in a supervision visit to Vanni along with some others in the region, implying that the Maldives government approved the war Colombo was waging.

All the three powers, the USA, China and India, besides UK, are competing in exerting influence over Maldives now. There is a particular competition between India and China.

China has openly disapproved the UN panel report. But there must have been other ‘silent’ influences on Maldives for it to take this stand, informed circles in Maldives said.

Sticking to moral high grounds, Maldives would have done better by at least taking a neutral stand, considering its long relationship with both the Eezham Tamils and Sinhalese, was the comment of an expatriate in the Maldives Islands.

Ironically, the Maldives Foreign Minister himself, being the brother-in-law of the first president Nasir, was later a victim of human rights abuses, unable to go to his country for several decades.

But now they all have other personal reasons for denying justice to the human rights violations committed against Eezham Tamils.

During the time of Gayoom, the present president Nasheed, foreign minister Naseem and several others of their party found asylum with Rajapaksa and was patronized by him, says the Maldivian opposition.

Recently the Maldivian government found new friendship with Israel too.

Many Maldivians have properties in the southern parts of Sri Lanka.


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