South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) expresses its concern over recent developments in Maldives, which have seen former President Nasheed step down, in what he and others have described as a coup.

Reports suggest that Mr Nasheed’s resignation follow violent protests that appear to be triggered by the arrest of a senior judge Abdulla Mohamed as well as the resignation of Maldivian SAARC Secretary General, Dhiyana Saeed.

It was also reported that some members of the opposition may have instigated the coup that forced Mr Nasheed’s departure from office.

SAHR firmly supports democracy throughout South Asia and believes that this is the only political environment that promises better respect for human rights. Considering that Mr Nasheed became the country’s first democratically elected President just 4 years ago, following 30 years of rule by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, SAHR hopes that the fledgling democracy in the Maldives will be allowed to continue.

If there were questions about Mr Nasheed’s governance, this should have been taken up through the mechanisms available in a democracy, and prescribed by the Constitution of Maldives. SAHR urges that actions, when and if genuinely warranted to bring about a change in government, are strictly in compliance with accepted democratic norms and the rule of law. There is deep concern that such has not been the case in Maldives.

It has also been reported that an arrest warrant has been issued for Mr Nasheed. SAHR believes this would be a blow to the status of democracy in the Maldives and requests this warrant be revoked, unless clear charges can be filed against him. Until this time, SAHR hopes that Mr. Nasheed will receive adequate protection.

Of further concern to SAHR is the repression of the right to peaceful protest, whether in opposition or support of a government. Recent events in Maldives demonstrate a threat to this right including the violent repression last week when, Amnesty International claims, a march held by Mr Nasheed and his supporters was attacked by police.

SAHR condemns these actions by the police and urges President Mohamed Waheed Hassan to ensure that the peoples’ right to demonstrate peacefully, as well as to uphold democracy in the country be fully respected.

On behalf of South Asians for Human Rights,

Hina Jilani                                                                                 Nimalka Fernando

Chairperson                                                                              Co-Chairperson