South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

South Asians for Human Rights, a regional network of human rights defenders, is disappointed by the decision of the government of Maldives to dissolve the Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) and call upon the government to reevaluate its decision.

SAHR has learned that the MDN was placed under temporary suspension on 10 October 2019 over a report published in 2016, and this suspension was subject to a police investigation for which the MDN staff pledged their fullest cooperation and publicly apologised for any offensive language used in the report. SAHR learns that the government has made this decision to dissolve MDN due to the pressure from the opposition party and extremist elements who have criticised the report stating it as an insult on Islam.

SAHR believes that this decision by the government is an attempt to curtail the freedom of expression within the Maldives, countering the promise made by the government in the 2018 elections. On the contrary, we believe that the content of the report should have been discussed and debated for its merits and demerits.

MDN has been recognized, nationally, regionally and internationally for their yeoman service to maintain democratic values and respect for human rights of the citizens, especially in the darkest times of the country when the rule of law and democratic freedoms were violated.

Further, this decision of the government will lead to potential threats and intimidation by extremist elements to MDN staff members as well as other rights-based and civil society organisations. Thus, we urge the government of Maldives to immediately reevaluate their decision, to maintain a dialogue with the MDN and reinstate the organisation in order to smoothly function so that they can continue to work towards promoting and protecting human rights in the Maldives.

On behalf of the members of South Asians for Human Rights,

Sultana Kamal