The concerns expressed over the current situation in the Maldives has little to do with political leanings but are a plea for fundamental rights to be restored, Ahmed Saleem, former permanent secretary at the Ministry of Environment and Energy, has said.
Speaking at a Joint Opposition rally in his native island of Hoarafushi in Haa Dhaal atoll, Saleem said that the ongoing call on the government to ease its undemocratic restrictions on constitutional freedoms is not at all political.
In this regard, Saleem expressed that the extent to which dissent and freedoms are repressed is so great that there really is no need for political criticism after the legitimate demand for freedoms to be restored are made.
Saleem, also founder and managing director of local news station Raajje Television which is widely considered to be independent and a victim of state’s crackdown on dissent, said that freedom of expression and speech are not political rights, but basic human rights.
“We must be given the right to speak our minds, to openly discuss matters without intimidation and fear of prosecution. I firmly believe that these freedoms will be restored and even greatly expanded under the coalition government that Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is to lead”, Saleem said in support of the coalition’s presidential candidate for the upcoming ballots.
The former permanent secretary, whose career at the ministry saw him play an integral role in the formation of local environment protection laws and environment impact assessment regulations, said that current government lacks any tangible policies.
“There really are no policies, not when it comes to employment rates, the health sector, the fishing or agriculture industries”, Saleem further said.
In his speech, Saleem also said that such freedoms are the cornerstone for a participatory democracy and its restoration should be priority for all Maldivians.