The Maldives is one of the world’s most famously exclusive holiday destinations. A little bit of paradise, floating in the warm, turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, it is synonymous with luxury, honeymoons and peace. However, peace is far from the daily reality of many Maldivian people. For over 30 years, tourists and local people were kept apart in the Maldives under the guidance of the country’s third president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who designated “resort islands” which were exclusively for the use of tourists – and “local islands” where Maldivians lived, and outsiders did not set foot. However, in 2008, the environmental and human rights activist, Mohamed Nasheed, became the fourth president of the Maldives and, in so doing, began to pave the way for guesthouses to be built on local islands.
Unfortunately for Nasheed he was ousted at gunpoint in 2012 following mass opposition protests and threats on his life. After being held under virtual house arrest he was then convicted in 2015, under the country’s anti-terror laws, to serve 13 years in prison. Amnesty International denounced the conviction
as politically motivated and the US commented that the trial had an apparent lack of appropriate criminal procedures
. Nasheed, who is represented by human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, has expressed his fears over religious extremism and climate change and how it will affect the Maldives.