Maldivian vows to fight injustice
Former Maldivian Parliamentarian, Mohamed Latheef this week vowed to carry on his fight against what he called the injustices to the Maldivian people and his own family members by the Maldivian President Abdul Gayoom's administration.

Mr. Latheef who is seeking asylum in Sri Lanka was granted an extension on his visa by immigration authorities not without some hesitation. An old boy of Trinity College Kandy and Royal College Colombo, Mohamed Latheef though at first told that his visa would not be extended beyond March 3 was later granted a visa extension by a month.

Initially officials of the Immigration Department had told him that his visa would not be extended and that he has been blacklisted so that he cannot return to Sri Lanka. The Sunday Times learns that the Gayoom administration had reportedly written to President Chandrika Kumaratunga requesting her not to extend Mr. Latheef's visa. This request had been followed by the visit to Colombo of a powerful figure connected with the Gayoom administration in an attempt to stop the authorities from issuing a visa extension to the former Maldivian parliamentarian.

Various attempts were made to prevent Mr. Latheef from staying in Sri Lanka even though Mr. Latheef carried a certificate from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees certifying he was an asylum seeker and that his papers were under consideration.

The question, as to why Mr. Latheef was initially refused a visa extension, was raised during a news conference hosted by the United People's Freedom Alliance last week at which Media Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar was also present.

A response of sorts was given at a subsequent news conference held early this week though the question as to why the visa extension was delayed was not clearly answered.

Mr. Latheef whose close relatives are held in custody in the Maldives and his daughter Jennifer was in custody for 57 days, all held for their alleged involvement with the events in Maldives where people took to the streets following the death of four prisoners, said that he would continue with his efforts in making sure the people's rights are protected.

He claimed that false allegations had been made against his daughter for involvement in the people's protest action on the streets of Male late last year when she in fact had only tried to intervene between the police and the demonstrators and in an effort to calm the situation. Mr. Latheef said that his daughter on being released from custody was about to leave to Colombo when all of a sudden she was informed by the Maldivian immigration authorities that she would not be permitted to proceed to Colombo and had been ordered to stay back.

The trial against his daughter is due to commence shortly and is likely to be tried for charges of terrorism. Mr. Latheef charged that his father and close relatives were allegedly killed while in prison during the regime of the former Maldivian President. Mr. Latheef who was himself a member of parliament and a close associate of President Gayoom was held in solitary confinement for three months without any charges being brought against him.

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