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Page added on May 13, 2012

MNDF marks Children’s Day

MNDF marks Children’s Day thumbnail

The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) conducted equipment demonstrations and allowed children to handle firearms during an event on Saturday to mark Children’s Day.

MNDF Spokesperson Major Abdul Raheem said the National Library requested the MNDF set up a stall as part of the day’s events, “so we demonstrated our equipment, and people took photos with it.”

Some of those photos – of toddlers handling heavy machine guns and staring down the barrels of pistols – were met with concern by Maldivians on social media channels, who described the images as “just not right”, and “sick and wrong”. One Maldivian twitter user questioned whether the event was part of the new government’s civic education syllabus.

Photo: Jaawid Naseem

In response to concerns, Major Abdul Raheem emphasised that the event was “very safe”.

“When we took the weapons outside we did not take any ammunition,” he explained. “The weapons were technically disabled.”

There was no possibility of even an unloaded weapon falling into the hands of a member of the public, he said.

Mariya Ali, former Deputy Minister of Health and Family with a 20 year background in child welfare in the Maldives, questioned the objective of the exercise.

Photo: Jaawid Naseem

“These children have witnessed violence from the [police and army], and now they are being exposed to the tools of violence. If it is not explained correctly, it can have a longstanding effect on them,” she said. “It is not appropriate for children under the age of eight to be exposed to this.”

Mariya said research into how children perceived authority figures such as the police showed that “Children see them as protectors – in their minds they separate the act of protecting – violence – from the protective side.”

“It would have been better to focus on the protective side, rather than the guns – things like fire safety, and cleaning up after accidents,” she suggested. “Children look up to them, they are important role models.”

UNICEF Resident Representative to the Maldives Zeba Tanvir Bukhari said the organisation was “quite taken aback” and said she hoped the MNDF would consult it when organising future events.

“It’s really very worrying. Children are very fragile at that age – the focus needs to be on care, affection, education and health.  There is a huge risk of influencing children,” she said.

Images courtesy Jaawid Naseem/Jade Photography. Republished with permission.

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36 Comments on "MNDF marks Children’s Day"

  1. willman (UK) on Sun, 13th May 2012 1:28 PM 

    Children with guns, we have seen it all in the past with child armies fighting for despots. Possibly the Maldives of the future. It does nothing to enhance your image abroad.

  2. Ainth on Sun, 13th May 2012 1:53 PM 

    Mari couldnt have said that any better. Violence as a mean of solving problems has now been clarified and justified in children’s minds. We are at risk of producing a dangerous generations that would use violence without giving it much thought. By no means, that can be justified, children are at risk of not knowing how to differentiate between right and wrong

  3. woman on Sun, 13th May 2012 2:01 PM 

    This is ridiculous and shockingly irresponsible.

    The ‘normalisation’ of weapons of violence to children is one of the most irresponsible things any state institution can do.

    So the “Major” explained it was ok because they did not let the children play with the guns with live ammunition and therefore the weapons were “very safe”?

    The MNDF really are an ill-educated and mindless bunch.

  4. mode on Sun, 13th May 2012 2:45 PM 

    this absurd and not correct and children should be exposed to these kind of things.

  5. mode on Sun, 13th May 2012 2:45 PM 

    sorry children should not be exposed.

  6. Mambo Jumbo on Sun, 13th May 2012 2:51 PM 

    A BIG NO!! to children with guns.

  7. james on Sun, 13th May 2012 2:51 PM 

    spot on @woman

  8. Ibrahim on Sun, 13th May 2012 2:52 PM 

    This is absolutely outrageous. No wonder, several accidental deaths have occurred in the past due to this sort of carefree attitude towards guns.

  9. Maldivian on Sun, 13th May 2012 2:52 PM 

    Waheed having served the major part of his career in UNICEF should know better than to run a open day introducing guns to children

  10. Hussain on Sun, 13th May 2012 3:01 PM 

    I don’t understand why there isn’t more public outrage at this. Makes me wonder how many people realise the implications of this event and the effect it will have on the children that were involved.

    Even in countries like the US where the public are allowed to keep firearms in their homes, they teach VERY strict gun-safety, especially when it comes to children. Even so it results in so many accidents every single day. There are so many horrifying images in that picture album.

    Regardless of whether it’s a loaded gun or not, toddlers should in NO ACCOUNT be able to handle firearms or weapons of any kind.

    Where are the civil societies up in arms? Where are the children’s rights organisations? Where is the public voice of outrage?!

    This is not about your political affiliation, whether you support the government or not. Even if this was done before it was wrong then, and it is still wrong now!

    I agree there is a need for public awareness of the activities of the Defense Forces and improve their image, but this is not how to do it. This is NOT how you engage children with the work of the military.

    Please wake up my fellow Maldivians and voice your opinions.

  11. Shujau on Sun, 13th May 2012 3:16 PM 

    kids and guns not a good mix

  12. Junaidh on Sun, 13th May 2012 3:53 PM 

    Even these kids are getting brain washed. Maumoon’s way of brainwashing kids, for political reasons

  13. not ok on Sun, 13th May 2012 4:23 PM 

    Scary and bizarre. irresponsible on the part of mndf and the parents as well. kids don’t need to be given guns, especially not on children’s day.there needs to be an age limit even if this kind of showing “equipment” is ok.
    Mariya Ali is right when she said, “It would have been better to focus on the protective side, rather than the guns – things like fire safety, and cleaning up after accidents,”

  14. concerned citizen on Sun, 13th May 2012 4:37 PM 

    This is scandalous. Many thanks to Mariya for speaking out against this. UNICEF and HRCM need to follow suit and to Major Abdul Raheem and his officers have to apologise and undertake child rights and early childhood development training, so that they don’t do this sort of thing again.

  15. jameel on Sun, 13th May 2012 4:37 PM 

    They do the same thing in all other countries. Why not Maldives?
    After all the weapons are disabled so there is no risk at all.

  16. didi on Sun, 13th May 2012 4:39 PM 

    hey the funny thing is waheed himself was one who did this report while he was at UN pls check http://www.unicef.org/publications/files/No_Guns_Please_-_We_Are_Children%281%29.pdf

  17. A Maldivian Kid on Sun, 13th May 2012 4:41 PM 

    As a 14 year old myself all I have to say to this is that it just evokes a feeling of shame in my country. Disabling the firearms does NOT make it okay to let kids handle them- it’s just a new level of irresponsibility that is cementing the notion that Maldives is not a safe place anymore. Unfortunately, as our economy (based on tourism) hoes down it affects everyone… Not just the people marking children’s day by letting kids handle guns.

  18. Nina on Sun, 13th May 2012 4:51 PM 

    Outrageous.

    And what does Queen Dhiyana have to say about this?

  19. Shafeea on Sun, 13th May 2012 4:57 PM 

    I just can’t believe they did this. What kind of education and awareness do our military have, I wonder?Shocking.Just shocking.

  20. Rationale on Sun, 13th May 2012 5:25 PM 

    MNDF’s next assignment … Needles work
    White washing MNDF … better use bleach

  21. Circus on Sun, 13th May 2012 5:51 PM 

    They’ve lost the plot.Simple.

  22. Liusha on Sun, 13th May 2012 6:46 PM 

    Idiots, if they had used common sense even these MNDF guys should’ve realized even if its not loaded it is never ok to give guns to little kids.

  23. Jahangir on Sun, 13th May 2012 7:24 PM 

    When is the next bullet going to fly – no enemies but themselves to shoot! Fools!

  24. Shafeea on Sun, 13th May 2012 7:44 PM 

    @ Circus

    I agree. Just lost the plot. So this is the NEW military leadership. What next?

    And Jameel, I am shocked that you can justify this by saying other countries do this. Are you referrig to child soldiers?

    WE are teaching our chidren that violence is not ok. So why the need for them to be exposed to guns? Words fail me.

  25. omg! on Sun, 13th May 2012 11:19 PM 

    wow!!! and its ok for children to get brainwahsed playing violent video games and watch violent movies all day while parents who’re too busy to raise to kids are at work all day? talk about perspective… sheesh! its better the kids know the danger from reality and fanstasy before its too late and is another junky or partey on the streets!!! i really wish they guys wud shud die!

  26. adhaalath on Sun, 13th May 2012 11:41 PM 

    What they did was wrong. They should have distributed Qurans and swords as well. Every child must carry a gun in one hand and a Quran in the other.

    Maai vi Islaam dheena qaumah takaa hingaashe dhaan mi jaanu dheyn!

  27. Ismail on Sun, 13th May 2012 11:44 PM 

    Shocked beyond belief.

  28. Rehendhi on Mon, 14th May 2012 12:43 AM 

    Trying to instil respect to regain your lost glory and dignity by doing such a shameless, irresponsible, sick act on children, doesn’t make you look good MNDF! I think what you guys need is another Ruder Fin… those officers need to show themselves to a shrink for god sake! Why are we allowing this to happen? Don’t we have a say anymore in anything that happens in this country?? Stability fenvaruga, gone to the dogs! God save them!

  29. Dhivehi Hanguraama on Mon, 14th May 2012 1:37 AM 

    Good. Our harlots produce deficient, effeminate offspring. It is about time this was rectified.

    Inshah-allah, they will grow up to rid our nation of the unvirtuous, the zionists, Oogah-Boogah statues of Hindu Elephant-Gods, the apostates and the MalDeviant Democratic Party.

    Our very own Basij-e Mostaz’afin. Alhamdulillaah

  30. Terry Newman on Mon, 14th May 2012 4:41 AM 

    Why a I not at all surprised about this? This is just another example of the immaturity of officials in the country.
    All in the quest to return to the caves !!!

  31. Myself on Mon, 14th May 2012 7:34 AM 

    While i am totally against this move by MNDF i also have to make a point of that the parent also had a responsibility….

    MNDF did not put the guns in the hands of the children…. the parents took them to the MNDF event area and ALLOWED MNDF to put the guns in the kids hands!!

  32. Y A on Mon, 14th May 2012 9:20 AM 

    I am in agreement with @myself.
    I don’t support the demonstration but i it was the National library who requested their presence & the parents who took the kids over to the stall.

    I also agree with @Jameel. This is done in countries all over the world, even in the so-called developed countries like USA. Further, civilians in other countries can carry licensed weapons while MNDF do not bring weapons home after work. You can buy weapons so easily, as shown by the teenager who killed so many students at Columbine High School. Look at the number of shootings involving kids who find a gun at home in USA alone.

  33. Ahmed on Mon, 14th May 2012 9:35 AM 

    I suppose all people commenting here who are against the weapons demon never used a toy gun as a kid? Most of the kids already use toy guns & other weapons while they are playing so what is so different here?

    It is so hypocritical of most people to talk about exposing children to violence. What about taking children to political demonstrations & rallies? I have seen MDP people taking little kids to the strikes & claiming police negligence when they try to stop the strike. Why didn’t you people say anything about that? When i took my kids to watch the MNDF parade, there were mdp demonstrators decked in yellow yelling around them shrieking “Baaghee”. My son also started repeating it coz he thought it was part of the march. Is it right to “brainwash” kids from such young age, use them as pawns to make them hate the current govt, MNDF & Police?

  34. ahmed on Mon, 14th May 2012 11:54 AM 

    This is just great.Maumoon and his inlaws started gangs in Maldives and recruited youngsters in .Introduced drugs to children and as a result during maumoons 30 years rule the common people were terrorized.Now again he and his cronies- Minister of Defence Nazim and commissioner of police Riyaz wants to recruit children as soldiers.

  35. Rationale on Mon, 14th May 2012 12:55 PM 

    MNDF next mission. Infants day.

  36. Goldilocks on Tue, 15th May 2012 7:41 AM 

    This is atrocious, but MInivan news itself is violating the rights of the children, by publishing their fotos without blocking their faces.


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