“No sympathy for people like us”

Filed in Other Voices, Society & Beliefs by on May 3, 2016 0 Comments

Coming out of dormancy to post this bit of exceptional writing by Xiena Saeed in the Maldives Independent.

Xiena charts the course of murder convict Humam’s life against the backdrop of social and political upheavals in Maldives. Great journalism.

“In 2003, Humaam was ten, Kinaanath was nineteen. Evan Naseem, a young heroin addict, also 19 years of age, was tortured and killed by prison guards in Maafushi Jail. Kinaan and Humam were friends with Evan’s two brothers. His death sparked riots in Malé against Gayoom’s 25-year rule. In response, Gayoom took the dangerous step of releasing all prisoners, except those convicted of murder and terrorism. Convicts were freed without rehabilitation, unleashing a great deal of rage against existing power structures. Crime rates soared. Gangs – Masodi, Kuda Henveyru, Buru, TC – became part of Malé’s social landscape.

The ensuing years saw violent police crackdowns on pro-democracy protesters. Faced with growing domestic and international pressure, Gayoom allowed the registration of political parties and later, independent media. The establishment of the riot police, dubbed the Star Force, and political parties gave gangs definition and form, according to a study by Asia Foundation, a Bangkok-based human rights group. Gangs mimicked the violence and brutality of Star Force officers, while politicians enlisted gangs for protection and influence. Later, members of gangs were recruited into the Star Force and given the legitimacy of a uniform.”

Read the full article here.

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