YOUTH MOVEMENT FOCUS! – NOOR

Due to the fact I don’t have access to my first blog anymore, I am republishing content from my previous blog here. This post also appeared in my previous blog here on Friday, November 21st, 2008.

Native Operators on Rights or NOOR for short, is an Youth Movement currently operating on on Facebook and was established on the 13th of Nov 2008, @ around 21.00hrs. Some of the key people involved in the movement are;
  • Amdy Asif (Facebook Group Creator)
  • Aminath Shifana
  • Susan Ibrahim Fulhu
  • Fathimath Thanzeela Naeem
  • Anthu Omar
  • Abo Rasheed
  • Jenny Latheef.

This is not to say that these are the only people behind the movement. Many would like to remain anonymous due to their own reason and the type of work that they do in the NOOR movement. Even though we do not mention the names of all the people that is behind the Movement, it is a tremendous effort and contribution to this infant democracy that the organization is contributing towards.

NOOR stands for NATIVE OPERATORS ON RIGHTS (Haggah Takaa Dhivehin).

As published in their Facebook page the main objectives of the organisation are as follows;

Objectives

  • Awareness and Advocacy on Rights
  • Prevention of Rights Abuse

Non Violent Actions/Methods Utilized for Advocacy & Rights

  • Awareness Campaigns
  • Mobilization of People/Grassroots
  • Petitions
  • Demonstrations
  • Other non-violent strategies

Functions

  • Addressing issues of national & social concern through relevant utilization of non-violent methods
  • Acting as watchdogs of the democratic pillars of our society to maintain a true democracy
  • Advocacy & Awareness on truth & reconciliation
  • Advocacy for national history to be told objectively and in truth.

It is very much understood that since the demise of the 30 year old dictatorship of Gayyoom and the inauguration of president Mohamed “Anni” Nasheed as the newly democratically elected president of the Republic of Maldives, it is my belief and the belief of the a lot of people, especially the youth of the nation to put to task the new administration of President Mohamed Nasheed as soon as possible so that our journey towards a full fledged democracy is not curtailed or delayed in anyway.

My sources confirm me that the president himself, who has been a human rights activist for most of his life supports the initiatives undertaken by NOOR and is willing to give the necessary support within the guidelines of the law. The people that is scared of Movements like NOOR are our beloved Home Minister Hon. Gasim Ibrahim and the police force that he commands. But the upside of this is and the fact that we can all rejoice is that the MNDF headed now by recently appointed Chief of Staff Moosa Ali Jaleel is also in support of such movement and we are grateful for this kind of support. These information’s that I have obtained from the very people that is involved in the Movement and the leaks that we have obtained from the police, the Home Ministry and the MNDF. So it remains to be seen how this Youth movement would fare out in the coming days and months ahead.

NOOR’s activities were first seen when they participated in the Joining of Hands on the International Children s Rights Day ( 19th November 2008 @ 4.30pm). The event was mainly held in the Capital Male’ but it is reported that some islands participated to make it a nationwide event. All in all, the event was considered a success by the organizers of the event and the participants.

NOOR is currently working on an ambious project of shutting down Dhoonidhoo Detention Unit (DDU). One of the first steps that NOOR is taking is to organize a music show at the Jumhoory Park (for those who don’t know – its the Park in front of the Police Station HQ). The event has been dubbed “Loiybah Takaa – meaning “For Love”). It is to be currently scheduled to be held on the 21th November 2008, starting from 4pm to 6pm and 8pm to 12am.

According to the flyers distributed in Male’ yesterday, it reads;

“The “Loibah Takaa” musical gathering is a loving call to the newly elected president to stop the saga of fear of Dhoonidhoo Detention Unit (DDU), as a goodwill gesture to all ALL citizens of our nations future. We are also asking for DDU to be (made) open to (the) public so that people who hasn’t seen the place can see and get a good idea of the conditions of our jails, and we as a nation learn from our mistakes and grow to understand that all people are equal in front of the law, and that humanity is important for us to survive as a nation in peace. Amin”

Jenny Latheef, one of the founders of the NOOR Youth Movement writes in the NOOR Facebook Group:

“Through out our lives many of us have heard stories of the infamous Dhoonidhoo Detention Center. Maybe not all of us have been unfortunate enough to experience the isolation, or torture at this jail, nonetheless, it has been feared by almost all Maldivians. I believe by closing the jail as a jail down and opening it to the public will be a goodwill gesture of being non threatening to our people by President Nasheed. We really don’t need this huge infrastructure of jails in this tiny nation.”

Jenny continues;

“DDU has been used for too much evil for too long…. it’s a symbol of crimes against humanity… (there is) no need for a place like that. We have more jails per square meter than most countries. We do not have that many criminals do we? Most people in jail are for brown sugar (low grade heroin) related issues. Since the new government said they will find a solution for the drug problem, I think it is safe to say the new government does not see brown sugar addicts as criminals, but as a social and national problem. And it would lower their costs of governance if DDU is shut down as a jail, but opened up for public view. People could even pay a few Ruffiyya’s to go there, thereby getting a revenue too.

“Can’t imagine Anni (President Mohamed Nasheed) using DDU as a jail…. as he and many in his family went through a lot their too… but then again so did Gayoom. My hope…. that President Nasheed puts an end to the DDU saga… as a good will gesture to all people of this nation that he has no intention of being a threat to anyone unjustly…”

On the Question of why Dhoonidhoo Detension Unit (DDU) and not other Jails that has seen similiar torture, Fathimath Thanzeela Naeem, also one of the founders behind NOOR says in the same NOOR Facebook Group:

“Do you think that if they closed this jail facility that we would lack the jail space needed? Or do we have more Jail spaces? Does anyone know how much people we can accommodate (or jail) in total in all the holding facilities the police have?”

She goes on to ask;

“What is the government spending on the Jails? That is excluding the food they provide for the inmates.”

Fathimath Thanzeela Naeem speaking on the history of torture in the Maldivian Jails, contnues;

“Are the people ready for the truth to be told about our history? If Maumoon’s to be exposed for the torturer he was, then so should Nasir. So if we want the Dhoonidhoo jail closed down, and open to public, we have to also be ready to write our history books in truth – Why do we find comfort in telling our nation that a RANNAMAARI (mythical beast that came from the sea) appeared and ate the virgin girls???”

The Maldivian history we-written according the wishes and whims of the preveous leaders of the country has been trying to prove to us that we have been a nation of peace towards each other. on the other hand the real Maldivian looking back at history tends to forget as a nation, our past very easily. NOOR on the other hand believes, in the words of Munadhi, another activist involved with NOOR;

“Let it be a reminder of the dark years in Maldives…

“We should keep the prison for the next generation to see … it should be close down as soon as possible, BUT also (shouldbe kept) as a reminder about how thing were ….. so as thing improve , we shud be able to look back on how things were in 5 years”

In my oipnion this is a noble cause and a cause worthy of pursuing.

The group acknoldges that closing down DDU is not going to be an easy talk. Jenny in her reserch on public opinion on about shutting DDU came accross some disturbing facts;

“Some people are puzzled as to the significance of closing Dhoonidhoo, and opening up for the public.”

Her Response was;

“Doonidhoo has been a jail for longer than any other. It is a symbol of oppression and inhumanity. So the event is aimed for the newly elected president that the people has hoped for so much from, to show our people that he is not going to use the same fear methods. And we can hope for justice, equality and freedom from fear from this government. Hopefully, it will bring both the people who voted for Nasheed and Gayoom to FEEL the symbolic act of being non oppressive and a future we can hope for… it the beginning of a truth & reconciliation effort initiated by some really motivated youth. The truth will slowly set us free as a nation & we can also hope for our history to be written right… there are many other important issues, we hope to get enough people motivated to address issues they are passionate about… this is hopefully, just the beginning…”

I wish NOOR good luck in their endevour. I wll post my opinions on the matter as it further unfolds.

*** some quotes have been edited for clarity without loosing the main point of the matter.

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