Protect Maldives human rights defenders, international rights groups tell Government

Oct 23, 2019

Taipei, Taiwan, 

Deeply concerned by the threat to life and liberty of the members of the Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN), a leading civil society organisation in the Maldives, 16 prominent Asian human rights groups today called on President Solih to ensure their protection and freedom.

“We note that  the Maldives  government  has launched  a police investigation of alleged  blasphemy contained in a 2016 MDN publication that highlighted the threat of violent extremism, yet  also ordered it to suspend operations without giving MDN a chance to present its case  or even coming to a conclusion of the inquiry,” said the group, all members of  FIDH, a leading  international human rights  body which  was meeting in  Taiwan.

Given the gravity of the charges, MDN removed the report from its website for review by an Islamic expert and also submitted an apology.

The groups called on the Maldives to immediately remove MDN’s suspension and allow it to continue its efforts to protect the rights of the Maldivian people. Such arbitrary actions pose threats to other Civil Society Organisations and Human Rights Defenders in the country.

While acknowledging that the Government has the power to investigate such cases, it has an equal and corresponding mandate to uphold the rights of MDN members, under its obligations to UN treaties, international human rights mechanisms and provide safety to human rights defenders.

Signatories to the statement:

  • Taiwan Association for Human Rights, E-ling Chiu, Secretary General
  • Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, Yaowalak Anuphan, Director
  • ALTSEAN-Burma, Debbie Stothard, Coordinator
  • Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw), Jon Ungphakorn, Executive Director
  • Human Rights in China, Sharon Hom,   Executive Director
  • Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Kamran Arif, Vice Chair
  • Manushya Foundation, Thailand, Emilie Pradichit, Founder & Executive Director
  • Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, Thun Saray, President; Meas Savath, Secretary General
  • Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, Rosemarie Trajano
  • SUARAM, Malaysia, Sevan Doraiswamy, Executive Director
  • Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons, Natasha Rather
  • Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), Sanjoy Hazarika, International  Director
  • Armanshahr|OPEN ASIA, Guissou Jehangiri, Executive Director
  • Odhikar, Bangladesh, Adilur Rahman Khan, Secretary
  • Peoples Watch, Henri Tiphagne, Executive Director
  • Myanmar Alliance for Transparency and Accountability, July  Seng Hkawn, Program  Manager 
  • VCHR, Vo Tran Nhat,  Exécutive Secretary         

  For more information, please contact:

Sanjoy Hazarika, International Director, CHRI