Lovely Professional Univ-Rollback plan to honor President Abdulla Yameen of Maldives

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The President of Maldives, Abdulla Yameen is the latest recipient of an honorary doctorate in literature from India’s Lovely Professional University.

A brief look at the changes that have happened in Maldives under the leadership of Abdulla Yameen who came to power after winning a dubious election (the supreme court annulled the first few rounds) against a democratically elected and widely-popular President Nasheed is warranted in order to evaluate if the current President is worthy of the same honor that the Lovely Professional University gave to His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2015.

During the tenure of President Abdulla Yameen, the Maldives has been widely criticized for the unmitigated rise in the number of extremist fighters being recruited from the country by the Islamic state, the implementation of an oppressive defamation law that broadly criminalizes ‘defamatory speeches, writings, remarks, gestures, deemed against the tenets of Islam’,  the exploitation of a police force and the judiciary subjugated by the regime in power to stifle political opponents through detention and trials without following due process, the unsolved disappearance, forced exile and murder of journalists, civil society activists and liberal politicians.

Under the leadership of President Yameen, the Maldives withdrew from the Commonwealth of Nations into isolation in October 2016. This occurred after the country was confronted with suspension from the group for failing to take substantive steps to fight the threats to its fragile democracy.

An Al-Jazeera documentary (watch it here : http://www.aljazeera.com/investigations/stealing-paradise/ brings into question the credibility of the President. The investigative team secretly filmed confessions of men who bragged about delivering heavy bags filled with stolen cash to the President himself. The Maldivian journalists who contributed to the Al-Jazeera documentary, received numerous anonymous threats to their lives which were never effectively investigated and with their media office vandalized soon after, had to finally depart from the country for their physical safety.

To read about the persecution/disappearance/killings of journalists in Maldives go here : https://cpj.org/asia/maldives/

I am starting this petition to urge the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor of Lovely Professional University to rollback their plan to prop up a dubious role model in the form of a foreign despot with a questionable human rights record. The university should reconsider its decision to confer any kind of honor to a leader who should be held accountable for so much oppression and suffering in his country.

This award could not have been more ill-timed and undeserved in light of recent events in Male where a popular liberal blogger and pro-democracy advocate was stabbed to death.

I believe that it is our duty as citizens of the world’s largest democracy to send out a strong message to the current leadership of Maldives that we do not support the oppression, intimidation and exploitation that the people of Maldives are being subjected to and that we believe that the activities of the current Maldivian regime are worthy of international censure, not awards and accolades.



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