Open letter addressed to Diplomatic Missions in Mauritius and the International Community
I bring to you the warm greetings of my countrymen, who through your good offices wish to alert the international community on the current state of affairs in Mauritius. Experience gathered during my encounters with people from various walks of life, lead me to believe that we are living spells of darkness unknown to our history.
On 1st December 2020, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated the casualties in Yemen at over 250 000 people. A war which has destroyed Yemen’s economy and created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Mauritius has officially endorsed the Saudi Arabian-led alliance which steered Operation Northern Thunder. Excellencies, let it be known to the world, such a decision was taken unilaterally by a few within the Jugnauth-led government, without a formal cabinet decision, with neither any parliamentary debate on the issue nor the consent of its peace loving people. Capital media has been the only local voice of the thousands of civilians butchered in a country, which I am convinced many of our members of parliament would be unable to locate on a world map.
Every parliamentary session has become a mockery of democracy, with members from the majority joining the speaker to babysit a spineless Prime Minister. On his own the incumbent speaker of the National Assembly illustrates the decadent state of our democracy. Let alone the abysmal dip in standards, the lame tactics used to evade inconvenient questions are blatant evidences of how democracy is rigged, ripped and raped.
The control over the media is another aspect of the siege. The watchdogs of democracy have either been tamed, gagged by favours or silenced by fear. Bogus exercises to award radio licenses, instrumentalization of regulatory institutions, recruitment of ‘ Presstitutes’ and trolls are some of the features of the new media landscape. For the sake of decency, I would refrain from commenting on obscenities of our National Broadcasting Station.
Capital Media recently revealed how agents from a private security firm, bagging most of public contracts, had been instructed to assault a disturbing journalist. This week will mark, a year since Jason Christopher, fellow journalist and founder of online platform ‘People’s Press’ has submitted his application to the Government Information Services ( GIS) for Press Accreditation. It will also be over a year since Top FM journalist, Murvind Beetun lodged a complaint, submitting substantial evidence of attempts to coerce and corrupt by a hardcore member of the political order.
Pulitzer prize winner Jose Antonio Vargas was absolutely right in stating, ‘ Legality is a matter of power, not justice’ when referring to the legal aspect of colonialism, slavery, holocaust and apartheid. Similarly, the State sponsored propaganda would have been incomplete without the amendments brought to Section 46 of our Information and Communication Technologies Act (ICTA ACT). A marauding gun which legally targets influencers and people daring to offer a diverging narrative.
The level of corruption, nepotism and rampage by cronies, aligns this government alongside the likes of Trabelsi, Obiang, Duvalier and Marcos. Topping it all with an unparalleled arrogance, when trying to teach the world on something weird called ‘Covid freedom’. A schizophrenic posture, given the Prime minister’s obsession to hide the country’s ripened bankruptcy under a face mask, blaming the pandemic for every slumping sector of the economy. The deliberate breakdown of our institutions and government decisions defying basic logic, solidify public perception of a nexus between political order and crime syndicate. Red carpet treatment to international criminals, the harbouring of their loot coupled with the reluctance of law enforcement agencies to act in cases involving members of the ruling party, constitute merely the tip of rot.
Every life matters
Excellencies, you are all seasoned diplomats hailing from prestigious educational institutions and have made your way through the ranks of establishment to proudly represent the interest of your people. As such, you will definitely concur with my belief, that every tenant of this planet, enjoys the right to dignity and respect.
It is along this particular vein that I fail to understand the lack of reaction when hundreds of migrant workers originating from Bangladesh are used to bloat political rallies, in exchange for a meal. Or the logic behind the silence of the British High Commission, when a doctor responsible for the death of 2 year old James Rawlings, evades trial in Ipswich, secures registration in Mauritius and is even recruited by our public health service.
Capital Media had drawn the attention of the US treasury on the need to investigate the corruption claims in the funding of ST Louis project by African Development Bank. Such resources could surely have been beneficial to the 40 million US citizens living below the poverty line.
Pitching right-wing extremism through local Hindutva organisations to shield the frailty of the incumbent Prime minister, has only resulted in stirring an undue anti-India resentment. Boiling down the magnificence of India to the image of RSS is at par with calumny endured during British raj. The sanctions imposed by Independent Broadcasting Authority ( IBA) against Top FM for allowing negative comments on Narendra Modi’s politics to be aired, does push the embarrassment much further. More so, when millions of Indians themselves, are protesting vehemently against the Modi Sarkar.
The judicial inquiry into the death of Soopramanien Kistnen will hopefully bring to light the blurred practices of Huawei Technologies and the true purpose of routing funds from Exim bank via Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) barred from scrutiny. Huawei is far from being the only Chinese company to abuse of the guanxi culture. At the end of any dealing between private companies and public officials, it is tax payers who foot the bill. Shielding these dealings through G-to-G agreements can only be termed as collusion.
How can only politicians be blamed, if funds meant for relieving victims of Wakashio crisis are diverted towards projects designed to glorify the government ? When Japan decides to favour backdoor dealings so as to wriggle out of this mess, then the word “Meiyo” (Honor) has lost its meaning.
With 100 million people within Europe are at risk of social exclusion, EU has an obligation to ensure that every single cent granted to friendly states, is accounted for. Netherlands with a population of 17 million generates a GDP well over USD 800 bn. Yet their Prime minister, Mark Rutte commutes to his office by bicycle, whereas our tiny bankrupt island provides its decision makers with motorcades. Speaking of driving, every time officials from donor agencies have to zigzag through our roads, they should recall the billions in grants & loans dumped into those potholes.
On 27th July 2020, to support the COVID-19 crisis plan, l’Agence Française de Développement (AFD) granted a loan of 300 million euros to the government of Mauritius. The funding came at a time when elderly people in France could not be catered for. The looting of such funds by cronies through dodgy contracts constitutes an unforgivable crime.
Meeting with history
With all due respect to fallen ones, there is a silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic which should logically be the new piston driving humanity forward. The concept of “frontier” has been defied, leaving us with the understanding- We are one world and every life matters. Who would have thought, UNICEF would be called upon to provide emergency food packs to children in one of the world’s richest city – London? A city where corrupt politicians from across the world have churned their loot into property and other investments. Such proceeds of crime could on their own feed every starving child on the planet. Yet! we choose to stay put. The pandemic also reminds us of uncertainties of life and of the need to act in the present. In fact, the only certainty remains “nothing is permanent “. Not even the well-knit political hegemony.
In Mauritius, the reality check of 2020 has called off the bluff of Jugnauth family, cranked the propaganda machinery, leaving the country to face the brutal consequences of years of deceit. Massive anti-government turnouts at rallies held this year, depict the tension brewing on the island. With an increasing number of people hailing from different strata engaging actively in protests, we can convincingly foresee the yield of 2021.
By conveying this message, I uphold the symbolic responsibility of giving a jolt to surrounding passiveness. As our island swirls into the abyss of despair, we can no longer remain silent spectators. The show can’t go on!