Published: Sunday 1 April 2012
Nasheed urging the world to do more to save small island states from rising sea waters.

Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed, ousted in a coup last month, joins us in studio along with Jon Shenk, director of "The Island President," a new documentary about Nasheed's rise to power and his climate activism. The tiny Indian Ocean state of Maldives remains in a state of political turmoil seven weeks after Nasheed, the country's first democratically elected president was ousted in what he has described as a coup at gunpoint. He had become an internationally recognized leader on climate issues, urging the world to do more to save small island states from rising sea waters. Nasheed criticizes the Obama administration's quick recognition of the coup government, calling it "shocking and deeply disturbing." He also discusses his commitment to environmental activism, saying: "Climate change is a real issue and it is happening now. It's not something in the future. We feel we have to advocate, that we have to try to get the message across that there has to be [an] international agreement on reducing carbon emissions."

Published: Friday 16 March 2012
“Over the past month, pro-democracy demonstrators have once again taken to the streets as they had under Gayoom’s rule. Once again, they are being met with brutal repression.”

Well before the launch of the Arab Spring, the people of the Maldives, a Muslim nation located on a tropical archipelago in the Indian Ocean, were engaged in widespread nonviolent resistance against the 30-year reign of the corrupt and autocratic president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. The growing civil insurrection forced the dictator to finally allow for free elections in October 2008, which he lost.

This triumph for democracy is now threatened as a result of a coup last month led by allies of the former dictator and hardline Islamists.

When the democratic opposition leader and former political prisoner Mohamed Nasheed assumed the presidency slightly over three years ago, he was faced with the difficult task of repairing the country's damaged social fabric from decades of misrule. While luxury resorts had mushroomed on many of the Maldives' remote islands, most of the population suffered in poverty. Indeed, Gayoom's legacy is one of shattered communities, destitution, crime and widespread drug abuse.

Despite their best efforts, Nasheed and his democratic allies were hampered by a court system still dominated by corrupt judges handpicked by the former dictator as well as violent protests by Islamists angered at the democratic government's moderate social policies. Meanwhile, despite struggles at home, Nasheed took global leadership in pushing for concrete international action on climate change, through which rising sea levels threaten his nation's very existence.

Nasheed's increasingly bold and popular efforts against the vestiges of ...

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