The Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) was permanently shut down by the authorities on 5 November 2019 in response to their 2015 report “Preliminary Assessment of Radicalization in the Maldives” which allegedly contained “content slandering Islam and the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH)”. Subject to a social media smear campaign by religious hardliners, staff and members of MDN have faced alarming threats of violence, rape and even death against them. The Maldivian Government must uphold its obligations under international human rights law and ensure that human rights defenders, activists and civil society organizations are able to freely carry out their activities without the threats of violence, prosecution and repression.
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Rt. Honorable Ibrahim Mohamed Solih
President of the Republic of Maldives
Bodhuthakurufaanu Magu, Male’ 20113
Republic of Maldives
Fax : +960 332 5500
Email: [email protected] [email protected]
I am deeply shocked to hear the decision of your government to shut down the Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN), and seriously concerned about the resulting death threats against its members and staff.
As one of the most prominent NGOs in Maldives, MDN has played a crucial role in promoting human rights in the country including invaluable research on topics such as police reform, torture, threats to human rights defenders and the right to freedom of expression, among others. In fact, I find it very distressing that MDN is currently facing intimidation from the very government whose members, former prisoners of conscience, it campaigned so tirelessly to have released.
Human rights defenders and activists around the world have been optimistic about the improved situation for civil society in the country following the formation of your government in November 2018, and the promise to put an end to the repressive tactics used by previous governments. However, the decision to shut down MDN, and allow religious hardliners to launch threats of violence, death and rape against human rights defenders and activists, sends a chilling message to local civil society, outside observers as well as many travellers who plan to visit Maldives.
I urge you to reinstate MDN, ensure the safety and security of all its members and staff, and create an enabling environment for human rights defenders, activists and civil society organizations to freely carry out their activities without threats of violence, prosecution and repression.