Mr.Mohamed Nasheed – deposed President of the Maldives honoured in Liverpool

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On April 2nd 2012 Mohamed Nasheed, the deposed President of the Maldives, was awarded an honorary fellowship by his university, Liverpool John Moores University. The citation was read by Prof.Lord Alton of Liverpool and the Vice Chancellor, Professor Nigel Weatherill, made the presentation. The Fellowship was accepted on behalf of Mr.Nasheed by Dr.Farah Faizal, who resigned as Maldivan High Commissioner in protest at the coup d’etat. Her speech may listened to at this link:

http://www.ljmu.ac.uk/roscoe/97603.htm

Background:

Mohamed Nasheed (Dhivehi) was born on 17 May 1967 and was one of the founders of the Maldivian Democratic Party and the 4th President of the Maldives.

Mr Nasheed attended Majeediyya School in the Maldives, between 1971 and 1981. He continued his secondary school education overseas at the Overseas School of Colombo, from 1981 to 1982 and in August of that year he moved to the UK where he completed his Higher Secondary Education at the Dauntsey’s School in Wiltshire. After his A-Levels, Nasheed moved north to Liverpool where he read for a Bachelor of Arts in Maritime Studies at Liverpool Polytechnic – later Liverpool John Moores University, graduating in 1989.
Mohamed Nasheed is a man heralded as the harbinger of change who pledged to complete the archipelago’s transition to democracy. A former political prisoner and activist, he was jailed numerous times by his authoritarian predecessor Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. He had founded his own magazine Sangu and published a series of investigative reports about President Gayoom’s regime, which he accused of being corrupt and guilty of human rights abuses. Due to this he spent several months in solitary confinement accused of trying to overthrow the government. Mr Nasheed was named an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience in 1991.

In recent years, Mr Nasheed has attracted worldwide attention for his campaign for action on climate change, even holding an underwater cabinet meeting to highlight his cause. He founded the Climate Vulnerable Forum, an association of countries affected disproportionately by climate change. He has won various awards for this work. In 2009, he was presented with the Coral Cultivation Initiative Award by Huvafen Fushi Resort and Underwater Spa, Maldives in recognition of his active participation in cultivating coral in the resort’s nursery as well as for his efforts in creating greater awareness on the impact of climate change in the Maldives. The The recent coup d’état which occurred in the Maldives resulted in the President, Mohamed Nasheed, being forced to resign at gunpoint and following his detention there have been fears for his safety and security. Anna Lindh Memorial Fund awarded Mr Nasheed, the 2009 Anna Lindh Award for the instrumental role he played in bringing democracy to the Maldives and in recognition of his efforts on the world stage to highlight the dangers of climate change by bringing people and their human rights at the heart of the debate.

In September of that year, at the global premiere of the “Age of Stupid”, Nasheed was presented with a “Not Stupid” Award for his efforts to tackle climate change and for the Maldives’ announcement to become the first carbon-neutral country in the world. In the same month, Time magazine named Nasheed No. 1 in the “Leaders & Visionaries” category within its annual list of “Heroes of the Environment (2009)”. On the Earth Day of 2010, Nasheed was awarded the Champions of the Earth Award, the United Nations’ most prestigious environmental prize. According to a press release by the United Nations Environment Programme, the award was in recognition of Nasheed, being “an articulate voice for the vulnerable and the poor facing the challenges of global warming and also a politician who is showcasing to the rest of the world how a transition to climate neutrality can be achieved and how all nations, no matter how big or how small, can contribute”.

In 2010, he was named by Foreign Policy magazine to its list of top global thinker and in March 2011, following his official visit to the Republic of Mauritius, he was decorated by President Anerood Jugnauth and was awarded the highest distinct order of merit in the country. He was elevated to the rank of Grand Commander of the star and key of the Indian ocean during the official lunch offered by the Jugnauth at the Château of Réduit .

Mohamed Nasheed came to power as President of the Maldives after elections in 2008 ended 30 years of autocratic rule by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. In the Maldives first ever democratic elections, Mr Nasheed won with 54% of the votes.

He has faced fierce political opposition, as parliament is dominated by opposition supporters of the former president. Tensions escalated after the army arrested a senior judge the government accused of political bias, prompting street protests. Human rights groups added their voices to calls for the judge to be released – and, as matters grew increasingly heated, there were demands for the United Nations to be brought in. Mohamed Nasheed resigned on 7 February 2012, following weeks of protests by opposition which was eventually joined by some of the military. Vice-President Waheed Hassan was sworn in vowing to uphold the “rule of law”.

Mr Nasheed’s resignation statement read: “I believe if I continue as the President of the Maldives, the people of the country would suffer more. I therefore have resigned as the President of Maldives. I wish the Maldives would have a consolidated democracy. I wish for justice to be established. My wish is for the progress and prosperity of the people. And I thank you all for your support and contributions to achieve success for the past three years.”

Mohamed Nasheed was intending to deliver a Roscoe Lecture in September last year, while on a state visit to the UK, and would have received an Honorary Fellowship on this occasion. This is the University’s highest honour, bestowed on those in public life who personify its ethos of ‘dream, plan, achieve,’ and was in recognition of the role he had played in spear-heading the democracy movement in his country and which led to his imprisonment, to solitary confinement, and to torture.

Mohamed Nasheed studied at Liverpool John Moores University between 1984 and 1989. The University has, therefore, followed events in this Commonwealth country with more than passing interest. On behalf of LJMU’s Roscoe Foundation for Citizenship, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nigel Weatherill hosted Dr.Faizal’s talk and discussion about what has occurred.

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