Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Vigil to be held in Male' to remember torture victim Eavan Naseem

In the night of September 19, 2003, at the young age of 19, Eavan Naseem, an inmate of Maafushi Jail in the Maldives, was brutally beaten to death by prison guards of NSS. His death caused riots in prison next day and NSS shot prisoners killing and wounding inmates. On September 20, Male' went into a riot and brought the birth of a pro-democracy movement.

To remember the death of Eavan Naseem, we are organising a vigil for the night of September 19 this year. People can sit on the seawall around Male' (thoshigandu) in Boduthakurufaanu Magu from 9 pm to 12 am. There is no specific point. You can sit on the seawall at a location close to your home or any area you prefer. This is a peaceful vigil. You can bring candles if you want. You can wear t-shirts bearing messages if you want. You don't have to continue the vigil from 9 pm to 12 am. It is okay even if you join anytime in between and leave before 12 pm.

We need the help of photographers to take photos and upload to your Flickr accounts. You can also take video clips and upload to YouTube. This is not a political event. This is an event organised because we are against torture. Standing up against torture means you are supporting humanity.

This event has been primarily promoted through Facebook. Visit this event's page at Facebook and join, and invite all your Facebook friends.

This is an "open source event". Like open source software to which you can add plugins and extensions and modify the source code to make it better. Those attending can add new flavours to the event such as banners and t-shirts. You can get an old t-shirt and write on it using a permanent marker. This is cheaper but effective. Be creative with what you write. You can also go there in your evening dresses and shirts/-t-shirts. What is important is to sit on seawall to show that you are against torture. You don't have to spend a dime for the event if you don't want to do it.

This event is a non-violent and peaceful action. We will follow internationally accepted guidelines for non-violent action. Participants can read a guideline (in Dhivehi language) from the website of Gaumataka Movement.

We request all bloggers to promote this event in their blogs. Give a link to the Facebook event page from your blogs. Write a blog post about the event both before and after the event.

Start sending SMS to your friends about the event. Something like "Sit on seawall (thoshigandu) around Male' in Boduthakurufaanu Magu in the night of 19 September, between 9 pm and 12 am, and join a vigil to mark the 4th anniversary of killing of Eavan Naseem. Raise your voice against torture".

We have been asked why we are holding a vigil to mark the killing of Eavan Naseem. We have been asked why he is so special. Here are our replies.

Eavan was not special. He was just one among many of our youth lured into drugs by the regime, and ended up in prison. He was one among many who were tortured. What made his name a household name was the fact that the Maldivian public saw bruises and injuries on his body. They realised that torture is not just another allegation and that it was the dark reality. We are not trying to elevate Eavan to a cult hero status. We are marking the day he was killed, to say loudly that we do not support torture. Eavan was a victim of circumstances like so many of us. He may not have lived an exemplary life. But he was a torture victim. And he was a human being.

Eavan was not special. He was just another ordinary young boy from an ordinary family. His neighbourhood (Red Line City) has seen many of their youth end up in prison. Two other young people from that neighbourhood (Aishath Sudha and Ali Shahir) were also tortured and killed in prison. Eavan need not be special. The bruises on his body caused a collective conscience to say "It is enough!". When we sit on the seawall we will be showing solidarity with families of all torture victims. Eavan's photos are symbols of all of them. Eavan's story is their story.

Eavan was not the only one who was tortured in Maldives. Visit the website of Association for Prevention of Torture and Ill-Treatment in the Maldives to find out more about torture in the Maldives.


heaven said...

Eavan, brutally beaten to death. I was not in Male at the time so it was a little unreal to me at first. Until I saw the pictures. Until I remembered that he was the little boy whom I saw growing up. Who lived opposite the house I lived in Male. He must have been of the same age as my youngest brother...

I have returned to Male now and I continue to live opposite the same house where Evan grew up and as far as I know where he lived until he was no more....

Perhaps I will never know the intensity of the feelings generated in Male on the night and days following Evan brutal murder in custody. Perhaps the horrific incident was capitalized on by politically minded opportunists to make a case against the regime.

But yes, Evan was not special in anyway. He was not a political martyr. For all I know he might have never intended to cause the riot that he did. But we cannot escape the fact that the incident which were triggered by his murder has enveloped us all. It has goaded us to reflect hard on what we want to be - as people, as a people.

I remain numb when I imagine the state in which he left this world. May he be in peace.

Anonymous said...

heaven: you have said "Perhaps the horrific incident was capitalized on by politically minded opportunists to make a case against the regime." People of Male' were expressing their rage that day. There was the shooting incident after Evan's death. The white lies of the regime were finally exposed. Are you having a conflict of identity and a conflict in mind because Gayoom spent money for your education in UK? Doesn't your conscience bother you when another person was tortured and killed this year?

heaven said...

anonymous, since you seem to know who I am I wish I could say the same thing about you... there is no conflict.... i have said how I see things... perhaps you can explain if what I have said is not true... about political opportunists.... by the way there is no value judgment here.... just observation.

Anonymous said...

if you people really cared, tell me why 75% of maldives have drug abuse problem ?