'Maldivians went abroad to fight in various conflicts'

Under fire from rights’ bodies for facilitating radicalisation, the Maldives government has acknowledged that a “limited number” of Maldivian men has travelled to fight in “various overseas conflicts.”

In its policy paper on terrorism and violent extremism, the government stated that some of the men had chosen to take their wives and children along with them. “As a result of such ideologies, and resultant lifestyle, these families tend to be isolated from the community and children marginalised to the fringes. Of concern is the fact that a large number of social issues that arise from violent extremism specifically affect women and children,” the document stated.

The paper, tabled recently by President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom in the People’s Majlis, the country’s Parliament, is expected to come up for reading next week.

The issue of radicalisation in Maldives is being watched closely by other countries, academic institutions and the rights bodies. The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), in its study in February this year, said “the influence of the ultra-conservative and radical on public policy has been growing steadily.” A paper by the New Delhi-based Indian Council of World Affairs last year, quoting a report by the International Business Times, a digital news publication, stated that “some of those travelling to Syria came from poor fishing communities on outlying islands; others came from the capital, which features a mix of radical preaching, organised crime and social deprivation.” The United States Department of State, in its latest account of terrorism worldwide, said Maldivian authorities believed funds were being raised in Maldives to support terrorism abroad, but lacked reliable information regarding amounts involved.

The Maldives government, in its document, has also conceded that “identifying individuals who participate in such overseas civil conflicts is, in its nature, an arduous task, and that more work needs to be done to strengthen identification and investigation processes.” However, it has committed itself to taking “all necessary measures against terrorism and violent extremism in accordance” with the United Nations Global Counter Terrorism Strategy, while calling upon the UN to fast-track its work on the Convention on Terrorism. The document also refers to the government's current measures to tackle the problem as well as its plans.

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Printable version | Oct 29, 2020 2:58:29 AM |

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