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Climate Change

Ex-Prez Nasheed Advocates Need For Low Carbon Strategy At UK’s Heathrow Expansion Protest

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Former President Mohamed Nasheed, the poster boy of climate change in the Maldives, has joined a protest against the expansion of Heathrow airport in the United Kingdom as it would lead to higher CO2 emissions.

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Nasheed joined the protest M4 spur road on Saturday alongside various environment protection agencies and voiced his concerns against possible negative repercussion to the environment from the airport’s expansion.

According to Daily Mail, the protest was part of a day of action by campaigners who are angered by the government’s plans to expand the airport. The day of action included a peaceful rally attended by Richmond MP Zac Goldsmith, impressionist Alistair McGowan.

15 people were later arrested under on suspicion of public order offences. They chanted ‘No ifs, no buts, no third runway’ and ‘No more runways and held placards reading ‘Heathrow expansion will destroy thousands of homes’ and ‘Protect the planet, no more runways’.

Maldives To Blast Coral Reef Even As It Attends COP22 To ‘Save The Climate’

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At a time when 197 representatives  — including the Maldives– have gathered at 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) in Morocco to discuss climate change, government’s decision to blast coral reef of Addu City using dynamite has received flak from the opposition and people of the country triggering online campaign against it.

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The Environment Protect Agency on Wednesday asked the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to approve the use of dynamite to blast the reef project to dredge the channel between the islands of Meedhoo and Ismahelahera states.

The EIA had earlier recommended the government to seek alternatives saying the use dynamite can be dangerous and should not be used.

The main-opposition Maldivian Democratic Party criticising government for “reneging” on its international commitments said that the action will cause “irreversible damage”. The party also urged government to respect its international commitments.

“Disregarding the EIA recommendations, it is deeply worrying the Minister of Environment has instructed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to approve the use of dynamite to blast the reef in Meedhoo…. It is deeply troubling the Maldives government is engaged in activities that will further cause irreversible damage.”” MDP said in the statement issued on Saturday.

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Ahmed Saleem at COP22


Maldivians took Twitter to run an online campaign to bring the attention of the ongoing COP22 where Ahmed Saleem is currently representing the Maldives and Alliance of Small Island States (AIOSIS).


According to Act on Environment Protection using dynamite for blasting coral reefs is an offence punishable by huge fees.

The practice of blasting coral reefs was discontinued by former President Maumoon Gayoom in the Maldives due to its negative impact on the environment.

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More than 60% of coral in reefs in the Maldives has been hit by “bleaching” as the world is gripped by record temperatures in 2016 due a strong “El Nino” phenomenon, the Guardian reported in August. The Maldives which is just 4 feet above sea level contains around 3% of the world’s coral reefs and is considered particularly at risk due climate change and sea level rises.

Shoko Noda, UNDP Representative of Maldives had also tweeted asking for action on climate change ahead of COP22.

UNDP Maldives also called for action on climate change saying that livelihoods and economy in the Maldives depend on natural resources.

“Under-Represented” Maldives Seeks UN Security Council Seat To Get “Equal Chance” At The Forum

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Foreign Minister Mohamed Asim strongly voicing the concerns of the Maldives said that the country is “under-represented” and sought seat at United Nations Security Council in a bid to get “equal chance” to take decisions that impacts everyone.

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Addressing the 71st United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Debate, Asim made the announcement that Maldives is seeking candidacy to become a member of the UN Security Council for the term 2019-2020 for the first time since it joined UN 51 years ago urging the international community to value the island nation by “abilities, not… vulnerabilities.”

…. Value us by our abilities, not our vulnerabilities…. Evaluate our progress relatively, not against inapt benchmarks, we may be small, but we surely are; and we surely can be.

In his address, Asim sought to fill the South Asia representative spot on the 15 member Council saying,

For small states such as the Maldives, we are often under-represented because our delegations are small, and our capacities stretched. Every member of this organisation must have the opportunity to serve, must have an equal chance to be part of every body, especially the Security Council, to make the decisions that affect us all.

Watch His Full Speech:

Asim also took up the issue of climate change and said that the Maldives is ready to take action on the issue now, as the Maldives is one of the most “vulnerable” to environmental shocks and urged international community to engage in meaningful partnership to save “tomorrow”.

Asim said,

The Maldives is one of the most vulnerable to environmental shocks, and one of the most exposed to climate change impacts… We know our emissions are almost negligible. But we want you, the international community, to know that we, small as we are, are making the choice to take action, and to take action now! We want you, the international community, to continue to invest in climate action, invest in forging meaningful partnerships. Investing today is saving your tomorrow.

Taking forward the policy of ex-President Mohamed Nasheed, Asim said that climate change is an “existential threat” to the Maldives and  has the potential to erode decades of development gains. He also told the Assembly that the Maldives was among the ratifiers of the Paris Agreement.

For decades, we have been asking the world to take notice – advocating urgent action on climate change. As a lone voice in a sea of sceptics, we could not perhaps go far. But today, together with forty-three members of the Alliance of Small Island States, we can go many more miles. We, the Maldives, with thirteen other SIDS, were among the first ratifiers of the Paris Agreement.

Foreign Minister Mohamed Asim Takes Up Climate Change At UNGA General Debate, Urges World To Work In Partnership

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Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Asim took up the issue of climate change in the ongoing 71st United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and said that the Maldives is ready to take action on the issue now, as the Maldives is one of the most “vulnerable” to environmental shocks and urged international community to engage in meaningful partnership to save “tomorrow”.

Addressing the General Debate on Saturday, Asim said,

The Maldives is one of the most vulnerable to environmental shocks, and one of the most exposed to climate change impacts… We know our emissions are almost negligible. But we want you, the international community, to know that we, small as we are, are making the choice to take action, and to take action now! We want you, the international community, to continue to invest in climate action, invest in forging meaningful partnerships. Investing today is saving your tomorrow.

Taking forward the policy of ex-President Mohamed Nasheed, Asim said that climate change is an “existential threat” to the Maldives and  has the potential to erode decades of development gains. He also told the Assembly that the Maldives was among the ratifiers of the Paris Agreement.

For decades, we have been asking the world to take notice – advocating urgent action on climate change. As a lone voice in a sea of sceptics, we could not perhaps go far. But today, together with forty-three members of the Alliance of Small Island States, we can go many more miles. We, the Maldives, with thirteen other SIDS, were among the first ratifiers of the Paris Agreement.

Watch His Full Speech:

UN Young Leader Safaath Ahmed Is Winning The Internet And Here’s Why

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Donning a burqa, when Safaath Ahmed Zahir- UN Young Leader for Sustainable Development Goals from the Maldives- spoke about women empowerment in New York, she won the internet.

Photo Courtesy: Twitter/ ‏@UNYouthEnvoy
Photo Courtesy: Twitter/ ‏@UNYouthEnvoy

The Queen’s Young leader said more number of women in Parliament and more women Presidents will take the world closure to global goals.

More women in Parliament, in policy-making, as Ministers, and more women Presidents- that’s my vision, Safaath said while addressing the Social Good Summit in New York.


The women’s activist and a proclaimed feminist from the small Indian Ocean archipelago, Safaath is among the 17 people appointed as the inaugural class of UN Young Leaders for Sustainable Development Goals.

Safaath, who has emerged as one of the youngest face in the Maldives, quickly got attention over her vision and best wishes started pouring in.


Safaath also spoke about the ongoing international issue of migrants and refugees along with her fellow young leaders.


The 25-year-old could not contain her excitement over meeting the celebrities, social and political leaders who were also present at the event for the good cause, including actors Mark Ruffalo and Preity Zinta.

Selected from over 18,000 nominations from 186 countries, Safaath has been recognised for her leadership and contribution to the achievement of the 17 Global Goals, also known as Sustainable Development Goals- to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the young leaders and said,

“These 17 young change-makers are a testament to the ingenuity of youth and I congratulate them for their exceptional leadership and demonstrated commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The flagship initiative of the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth comes against a backdrop of increasing efforts by the UN to engage young people in the implementation of SDGs.

Maldives: The Curse Of Independence

in Opinion by

Sumon K Chakrabarti - Author

In 2008, the Maldives had emerged as a beacon of democratic hope across the globe. A fledgling democracy had started taking baby steps in Asia’s longest-running dictatorship – a 100 percent Sunni Muslim nation. The road to democracy in Maldives, a string of 1,192 mostly uninhabited coral atolls, was painful. Some 500 miles off the tip of India, the Maldives have gone through a sea-change since 2008 – from an alleged coup de’tat to ‘dystopia’.

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Today, the world’s leading honeymoon destination, once the world’s most secular Sunni Muslim nation, is being driven towards hardline Islam, especially ‘Sharia’ by none other than its controversial and increasingly autocratic president Abdullah Yameen Gayoom – half-brother of former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

The irony though, has just begun, unflinching in it’s almost ‘funny (sic) side’ of brazenness.

The road to democracy in Maldives, a string of 1,192 mostly uninhabited coral atolls, was painful. Some 500 miles off the tip of India, the Maldives have gone through a sea-change since 2008 – from an alleged coup de’tat to ‘dystopia’.

It was on this day in 1965, July 26th, that the Maldives gained independence from the United Kingdom after 77 years as a British protectorate. Ironic yet true that the archipelago in the Indian Ocean marks its 51st anniversary of independence where most of its opposition political figures had to seek refuge in the land of their once colonial masters or they have been shoved behind bars. Most notable among them, the first democratic president of the island nation and the poster boy of international climate change – Mohamed Nasheed; along with Yameen’s former vice-president Mohamed Jameel who was impeached by his own boss!

If you thought that that was the ultimate ‘welcome to the dark side of life’ sign ever, Yameen trumped himself with an Independence Day speech on Monday night. The President insisted that death penalty has to be implemented because Qur’an says so, & therefore, that it cannot be stopped. He is hell-bent that the first execution of a convict in sixty years since 1953 will take place under his watch as a reiteration of Maldives’ Islamic credentials.

As he painted a Maldives as in a post-Tsunami dystopia, besieged by criminals, ‘disruptors of peace and harmony’, where ‘friendly scuffles between minors had escalated to the point’ in which ‘warfare is publicly declared,’ Yameen offered himself as the savior.

“The number of parties envious of our 100 percent Islamic nation are many. Every day is a day when the Government is pressured into allowing Maldives to become a multi-religious society. Every day is of warnings and caution over implementation of Islamic Shariah, teaching of Islam. There is a faction of traitors, bent on damaging the nation’s peace, stability, progress,” he proclaimed.

Addressing the nation, the President laid out a Nixon-esque chaotic vision of a country enveloped in smoke and flame where you hear ‘sirens in the night’.

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President Abdulla Yameen addressing nation on the occasion of 51st Independence Day

And the real issues got drowned.

Nearly 40 radicalised Maldivians have been documented to have left the country of 400,000 to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). But more alarming, ISIS-affiliations are being shown in openly on the streets and the government has stayed mum, fanning a base of violence and muddling the serene turquoise waters in this picturesque setting of cobbled roads and luxury resorts.

And then there is his elder brother Maumoon Gayoom, a former Egyptian-trained Islamic cleric, who ruled the nation of 370,000 like his personal sultanate for three decades and laid the foundation for many vices that the nation still grapples to resolve. Gayoom and his government have faced allegations of human rights abuses, including arbitrary arrests, torture and custodial deaths. But most overwhelmingly, for corrupting a judiciary, which has been usurped more swiftly by his half-brother now in power. As a defeat in the first-ever democratic elections stared in his face, the elder Gayoom ensured the judges he appointed stayed as is.

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Maldives flag & flag of jihad in textbook dedicated to “fruits” of Jihad, claiming that the ultimate fruit of Jihad is martyrdom, for which the reward in Islam is an eternity in heaven

But who did he appoint? 60 percent of the current judges have less than a seventh grade education, 30 percent have actual criminal records and a couple of sex-tapes!

But as the elder Gayoom has taken on his half-brother openly and viciously, the walls around President Yameen have started crumbling. One brick by another. He has jailed his allies, maimed his opponents, and crushed his critics too many times in the last 2 years. The result : a disjointed opposition came together in a united coalition where his own are deserting him and those even half-connected via blood is baying for his.

And in his last-ditch effort to hang on to power (which he referred to as “prevent such uncivilized behavior” in his Independence Day speech), Yameen is doing what many a tyrant have done in Islamic history – cling to their own interpretation of hardline Islam.

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Ministers and bureaucrats praying on the occasion of Independence Day

Therefore, he sees implementing death penalty is a clear commandment in Islam. He said as the leader of the nation, the responsibility on him to implement the verdict was bigger on him. “Islamic Shariah and the legal structure under the Constitution, excludes the President from this narrative. In Islam, capital punishment is mandated for all murderers; this is clearly said in the Quran. Therefore, implementing death penalty is a must in order to maintain rule of law,” he said.

And if the Maldives today had a version of the reality series The Apprentice, President Yameen would have already been singing what Donald Trump said in a baritone once : “This is a dictatorship and I’m the dictator. There’s no voting and there’s no jury.”

Welcome to the Maldives. The sun is setting. The martini has been spilled. Happy Independence Day. We always knew they will come back, but at what cost!


[Sumon K Chakrabarti Is The Founder-Editor Of FocusMaldives.com]

EXCLUSIVE: Maldives Brace For Déjà Vu, MUO To Hit Streets After Eid Against Prez Yameen

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A hot, humid and tiring day in the holy month of Ramadan was getting over across Asia. The clouds of Brexit hung over London. It was 9 o’clock at night in New Delhi. 9 PM in Colombo. 4.30 PM in Salisbury, England. 10.30 PM In Thailand, and across the Gulf Of Thailand in Malaysia, it was 11.30 in the night. In the Maldives, it was 8.30 PM in capital Male´ and in Addu, the southernmost tip of the country. Last Thursday, they were all connected via Skype. Their bond – The Maldives. Their cause – Democracy.

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So the eight-member delegation of the Maldives United Opposition (MUO) that landed in the Indian capital here on Wednesday night to garner support from its “closest neighbour” India was patching up their laptops with their leadership-in-exile in England – the first democratic president of the country Mohamed Nasheed, MUO Leader Ahmed Jameel Waheed (former vice-president of the country), Deputy Leader Ali Waheed, former Foreign Minister Ahmed Shaheed among others teamed up with former United Kingdom MP John Glenn.

Along with a few members from two Maldivian cities, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Malaysia, they were online for the third Shadow Cabinet Meeting of the ‘united’ opposition-in-exile.

“We are constantly moving from one country to another and our members are scattered in different countries, this is how we are going to hold this meeting,” Hamid Abdul Gafoor, Maldivian Democratic Party spokesperson told FocusMaldives.com.

muo cabinetSoon, six windows popped in on the laptop screen and all the member began talking in Dhivehi about the day spent in New Delhi with the media, rights group and ruling party leaders to lobby for the proposed transitional government and then proceeded to strategise when and how to organise a mass rally for the much needed grassroots level opposition movement.

On the agenda, hit the cobbled roads of Male’ with a mass protest rally against the incumbent, allegedly ‘autocratic’ government of President Abdullah Yameen, after Ramadan.

It had to be after Ramadan, it was supposed to be around Independence Day and they came up with a date- July 14. The mass rally that will witness Nasheed, Jameel and Waheed speaking to the people of Maldives. Of course, via video conference.

“Many people ask why the United Opposition is not being seen on the streets, because of Ramadan,” Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmed Naseem said earlier that day.
“We are on streets for last four years, now they (government) have imposed rules and regulations, which we are ready to challenge. We will contest for our rights and hold the rally,” he added.

The meeting was also a part of bigger agenda to ensure that the MUO- the rainbow coalition of all the political rivals or the “victims of President Abdulla Yameen’s dictatorial regime”- gets maximum international support.

The poster boy of climate change and the champion of democracy globally, Nasheed explained what MUO is and what they are striving for through a small video that was soon circulated on United Opposition’s Twitter handle later that evening from Salisbury (Read: later that night in Male’).

The similar message was sent out by the delegation in New Delhi earlier that day which met media, rights group, friend and ruling BJP leader Ram Madhav but skipped meeting with the government this time around. The MEA did arrange for cars to drop them at the airport 2 days later.

“We want the people of India aware about the situation in Maldives. We met interest groups, advisors from MEA, former ambassadors and journalists who will be at a better position to convince the government about our crisis,” Naseem told FocusMaldives.com.

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On being asked why they did not request a meeting with the government, Naseem said this time it was not in their agenda adding that if they requested meeting, they would have certainly met.

“We want to make India comfortable, we are not the government, we are opposition. They are working strategically and we don’t want to jeopardise that,” he said.

Naseem expressed confidence that India- the largest democracy in the world- believes in democracy and will back MUO in reinforcing back the rule of people.

Nasheed also echoed the same confidence in Salisbury and said, “We have done this (bringing democracy back) once, and we are confident that we can do it again.”

The last word came from the captain of the ship, Dr Jameel, who urged “a free and fair election and rise of the people free”.

The delegation of the United Opposition will soon reach USA after a brief stay in London and will engage with “friends” in media there (again before engaging with the government) with a motive to lobby for the “much needed” reform in the paradise island.

‘No Time To Waste’: Maldives Calls Upon Rich Countries To Ratify Paris Accord

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The Maldives has called upon the rich countries to ratify the climate change agreement reached in Paris last December, warning that the clock was ticking and there was no time to waste.

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  • Thoriq Ibrahim, environment and energy minister of the Maldives, told the Guardian that the industrialised countries must ratify the agreement that was reached more than six months ago as soon as possible, and that it should be a matter of urgency for them.
  • The Maldives is one of the world’s most at-risk nations and one of the only countries to have passed the accord into law.
  • France ratified the Paris agreement only earlier this month and became the first large industrialized nation to do so.
  • As many as 200 countries agreed to hold global warming to no more than 2C above pre-industrial levels in the Paris accord.
  • Ibrahim said time was running out for the poorest nations, likely to be most affected by climate change.

“France’s ratification is not only another indication of how seriously the international community takes the Paris agreement, but it also brings us another step closer to having it take effect,” he said.

“Small island states were the first 14 countries to ratify the agreement and deposit their instruments of approval with the UN. We encourage all countries, large and small, to do the same.”

  • Ibrahim added: “The faster we bring the climate agreement into force, the faster we can take the action required. And we have no time to waste.”
  • Ibrahim said that analysis of the most recent data from the government research station showed variable levels of coral bleaching.

“We are closely monitoring the situation through assessment of permanent [coral] sites. It is important that we understand the recovery process on a scientifically sound basis.”

  • Ibrahim added the government and the private sector were conducting research into reef health, with a view to helping the reefs recover from their bleaching. But the future survival of the reefs would be dependent on the world keeping to the limits on carbon agreed in Paris.

“It is important that we keep anthropogenic impacts to a minimum at the critical time of recovery,” he said. “We intend to widen the scope of environmental impact assessments of developments on reefs so that project activities that impact corals and coral reef habitats will be minimised.”

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