Amnesty International express concern over decree banning ‘India Out’ campaign

Police impedes motorcycle rally being held by the opposition coalition at Male' City on December 18, 2021. (Sun Photo/Naail Hussain)

Amnesty International, on Friday, has expressed concern over the decree issued by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih banning the ‘India Out’ campaign – after deeming it a threat to national security.

The global movement campaigning against abuses of human rights, via a tweet, expressed concern after having received reports and visuals of crackdown on peaceful protestors and journalists in the Maldives.

We are deeply concerned by reports and visuals of crackdown on peaceful protestors and journalists in the Maldives and a recent decree restricting the right to protest in the country in the pretext of containing threats to national security posed by the "India Out" campaign,” the tweet read.

They called on Maldivian authorities to ensure that any restriction on the right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression is proportionate, necessary, and provided by law.

Condemning excessive force against protestors – Amnesty International also urged a prompt and impartial investigation of it.

‘India Out’ campaign by the opposition coalition comprising of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and People’s National Congress (PNC) calls for the removal of Indian military personnel stationed in the Maldives.

President Solih issued a decree banning the ‘India Out’ campaign on April 24, deeming it a threat to national security.

In the presidential decree titled ‘Stopping Planned Activities to Incite Hatred Towards Specific Countries Under Various Slogans’ which was gazetted today, it was stressed that the National Security Council had decided the ‘India Out’ campaign posed a threat to national security.

The decree also read that political campaigns targeting a specific country posed a threat to national security.

President Solih, in the decree, also said the ‘India Out’ campaign put Maldives at risk of loss of peace and stability, huge economic and social burden, and isolation in the international arena.

He said that failure to save Maldives from the danger could lead to irrevocable losses, and make it difficult to maintain Maldives’ independence, and ascertain the safety of Maldivians living or visiting overseas, and foreigners in Maldives.

Citing these reasons, President Solih had ordered to stop ‘India Out’ activities and instructed all government authorities to enforce this.

Subsequently, huge banners with ‘India Out’ written in bold letters were hung at opposition leader, former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom’s house, H. Dhoovehi, and PPM headquarters, located in H. Hurafa, were both forcibly removed by Police after entering the buildings with court orders.

Spelling altered ‘India Out’ banners placed on later, which read ‘In Dear Out’ were also removed.

Afterwards, supporters of the campaign had begun grafitting indirect messages related to ‘India Out’ outside homes, building and walls. These were painted over by the Police.

Posters with 'India Out' messages had also been littered on roads.

Opposition coalition has stressed that the campaign can only be stopped once Indian military personnel have been removed from Maldivian soil.