***UPDATE: On 28 October 2008, Mohammed Nasheed, leader of the Maldivian Democratic Party, won the presidential election in the Maldives, ending Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s 30 years in power. Nasheed, a former political prisoner under Gayoom, has said that his priority is “to ensure a better standard of living in the country where 21 percent of the people live below the poverty line”. For more information on the outcome of the election and the implications, please click here.***
Several times during the past 15 years I have been in and out from the Prisons of the Maldives. I have been tortured and ill-treated, degraded and reduced to nothing. I have been spat at, called names abused and brutalised. I have had long periods of solitary confinements of total emptiness. Through out all these one friend that has always stood with me has been the English PEN, Writers in Prison Committee. I am sure I will not be able to thank them enough.
See UPDATE (as of April 2007) on Mohamed Nasheed under ‘Honorary Members Under Threat/ Maldives’
Mohamed Nasheed (Maldives), journalist for ‘Sangu’ magazine, has been arrested several times for political reasons. He was sentenced to six months’ house arrest on 24 August 1991 and transferred to full detention at Dhoonidhoo Prison on 24 August 1991 for an article published in ‘The Island’ Sri Lankan newspaper in 1990 in which he alleged the government had rigged the 1989 general election results.
Trial began in October 1991. He was held in solitary confinement and reportedly tortured during the initial three months in prison to make him ‘confess’. He was also accused of withholding information about an alleged plan to blow up a conference centre. The trial was reported to have been halted after the prosecution lawyer said there was no case to answer. The lawyer was reported to have been subsequently detained for two days by police. The trial began again on 17 February 1992 with fellow journalist Mohammed Shafeeq (editor of ‘Sangu’) giving evidence saying he had been tortured to implicate Nasheed in his alleged plot to sabotage the conference centre.
Nasheed was sentenced on 8 April 1992 to three years in prison under PTA for ‘withholding information’. He was also given 10 months in prison for illegal contacts with foreigners while in pre-trial detention (thought to be the BBC correspondent). Nasheed was released in June 1993. He was re-arrested in 1994 and again in 1995. In 1996 he was sentenced to two years imprisonment for an article he had written. In 2001 he was sentenced to two and a half years’ banishment for the theft of unspecified ‘government property’.
Mavis Cheek and Mohamed Nasheed
In June 2004 Mohamed Nasheed visited London and met several English PEN members, including Mavis Cheek.
On 12 August 2005 Nasheed was arrested again, after participating in a peaceful protest in Malé. He was later charged with ‘terrorism’ and ‘sedition’.
He was under house arrest until 21 September 2006, when he was released. Charges against him haven’t been dropped yet.
Foreign Minister Ahmed Shaheed told Reuters news agency that Mr Nasheed was “free to go about his business”. “The charges are still there, but I expect in a month or so that we will review the situation and they will be dropped.”
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/writersinexile/mohamednasheed/