Maldivian officials reflected on attacks to the country’s independence and freedom as they marked the country’s inaugural patriotism day.
The event, the first of its kind in the country’s history, comes amid a state of emergency and protests demanding the arrest and resignation of President Abdulla Yameen.
Home Minister Azleen Ahmed said he was “grateful to God” for having a president like Yameen in the current situation.
“I have to say with great sadness and sorrow that the journey for Maldives freedom is like the journey of a flying fish in the Iruvai (north-east) monsoon,” he said. “If it flies into the air it’s caught by a bird. If it swims down it’s attacked by fish,” he said.
“It’s the same for the country’s independence. At first it’s an attack from within the country. Then it’s an attack from outside the country.”
Vice President Abdulla Jihad, in a rare public speaking appearance, called on Maldivians to uphold democratic values and keep in mind the “real meaning and bases of patriotism” at the function held Tuesday night at Dharubaaruge.
“Patriotism is all about our nation, and the foundation upon which our nation was built – our faith, our own Dhivehi language, our history and culture, as well as the sovereignty and independence of our nation,” he remarked.
Maldivians needed to learn to uphold democratic values, he said, and to increase community spirit and integrity.
“Our situation is very different today than it was yesterday. Unlike yesterday, we are now open to the globalized world. It is all of our national duty to increase the love for our country in our hearts and in our minds to accept the challenges in the globalising world,” he said.
Around 20 constitutional rights have been suspended. Opposition leaders are either behind bars or in exile, top judges are in prison and police are using force and pepper spray to disperse protesters.
Despite opposition to the state of emergency, the ruling party has been holding rallies in the capital and Yameen has begun his campaign for a second term in office.
The state of emergency is due to end March 22.