Joint Opposition Party Statement: Opposition Parties Concerned Over President Yameen’s Refusal to Tackle Terrorism

27 September 2017, Male’: Four political parties in the Maldives, known collectively as the Joint Opposition, have voiced concerns over President Yameen’s refusal to crack down on violent, extremist groups in the Maldives.

Last week, armed soldiers were deployed at Velana International Airport. Although the government has remained silent over the reasons for the soldiers’ deployment, media outlets have reported that a plot has recently been uncovered in which Maldivians, with connections to the so-called Islamic State, were planning to commit a terrorist atrocity in the Maldives, targeting the tourism industry.

The Joint Opposition is particularly concerned over President Yameen’s lack of action against groups and individuals who espouse terrorism and violent extremism.

It has been reported that the same criminal gangs that President Yameen and his officials routinely task with carrying out violent acts against members of the political opposition are also involved in helping Maldivians travel to Syria to join Islamic State. It is believed that President Yameen’s regime deliberately turns a blind eye to terrorist recruitment in the Maldives.

Moreover, the Joint Opposition is concerned that while the regime routinely and systematically targets, arrests and imprisons members of the political opposition, a number of Maldivians, who have been arrested abroad during recent anti-terrorism operations, have been released upon their repatriation to the Maldives, often without a proper police interrogation.

The Joint Opposition further notes that the government has no clear counter-terrorism policies and the government has shown no willingness to attempt to rehabilitate known radical extremists.

The Joint Opposition believes that President Yameen’s well-documented links with the criminal underworld in the Maldives and internationally means he is unable or unwilling to crack down on terrorism in the Maldives. This leaves visitors to our country, and Maldivians, in a dangerously vulnerable position, and is yet another reason for the swift end to President Yameen’s increasingly authoritarian regime, which systematically disregards the rule of law.

The Joint Opposition calls on the international community to pressure the Maldives government to take the threat from terrorism and violent extremism seriously, which endangers the peace and security of the Indian Ocean region.