News Release

Maldives Coup Ousts Leader Against Global Warming

The Wall Street Journal reports today in “Protests Rock Maldives After Coup” about the group of islands in the Indian Ocean that “Police and supporters of deposed Maldives’ President Mohamed Nasheed clashed Wednesday, severely injuring at least two people who were protesting Mr. Nasheed’s removal from power a day earlier in a coup involving military and police.”

Today, “Democracy Now!” reported: “For years, Mohamed Nasheed was the most vocal world leader on the threat climate change poses to residents of small island states. After becoming the first democratically elected president in Maldives, he pledged to make the nation the first carbon neutral country and once held a cabinet meeting underwater. … The State Department here in the United States has defended the ousting of President Nasheed and has confirmed the new leadership has been in contact with the Obama administration.”

Earlier this week, President Mohammed Nasheed had an op-ed in the New York Times: “Dictatorships don’t always die when the dictator leaves office. The wave of revolutions that toppled autocrats in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen last year was certainly cause for hope. But the people of those countries should be aware that, long after the revolutions, powerful networks of regime loyalists can remain behind and can attempt to strangle their nascent democracies.

“I learned this lesson quickly. My country, the Maldives, voted out President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, its iron-fisted ruler, back in 2008, in historic elections that swept away three decades of his authoritarian rule. And yet the dictatorship bequeathed to the infant democracy a looted treasury, a ballooning budget deficit and a rotten judiciary.”

JON SHENK, jon at
Shenk is filmmaker of the new documentary about just-ousted Maldives President Mohammed Nasheed titled “The Island President.” The documentary focuses on Nasheed being the first democratically elected president of the Maldives and his warnings about global climate disruption, which the island nation is very vulnerable to. Shenk appeared today on “Democracy Now!” along with a representative of the deposed president.

T. KUMAR, tkumar at
Kumar is director of international advocacy for Amnesty International USA, which released a statement: “Maldives security forces must stop using violence against supporters of Mohamed Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party, a day after he was forced to resign the presidency under the threat of violence by the military and police. … Eyewitnesses told Amnesty International that Nasheed and a large number of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) members were marching peacefully through the streets of the capital Malé when police attacked them first and then failed to protect them from a violent counter-demonstration.

“Some of the MDP demonstrators were cordoned off by the police in a narrow alley where a mob shouting anti-MDP slogans began to beat them. One eyewitness saw Nasheed’s face covered in blood. He was then seen to be rushed away. Later a video emerged on the internet showing the police arresting him. Police also beat some 40 demonstrators with batons. Some sustained serious injuries. There are reports that at least one demonstrator may have died as a result of the beating.”

The environmental group has set up an online petition: “We are deeply concerned about the recent coup that forced Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed from office. President Nasheed was the first democratically elected leader of his country and a global voice for action to address the climate crisis. He needs your support to ensure his safety.”

Several videos are at the New York Times blog.