New Internationalist

Paradise lost in the Maldives

August 2004

They call them the Paradise Islands but behind the white beaches and the palm trees lurks a darker reality. Tourists may be pampered but others in the Maldives are routinely murdered – by thugs working for the near-omnipotent President, Maumoon Gayoom, who has maintained a 26-year stranglehold of fear and repression.

Recently, a 25-year-old man named Mohamed Shiyan, from Gadhoo Island, died after being detained and beaten by the National Security Service (NSS) following a raid on his house. His mutilated body was later found dumped in the IGMH Hospital in Male.

The same hospital experienced riots in September 2003 after the murder of an inmate, Hassan Evan Naseem. NSS personnel attempted to bury him secretly on hospital grounds but crowds gathered around the body and pictures were taken.

The Maldives Government’s human rights record has been an issue of serious concern to many international NGOs including Amnesty International, International Pen and Reporters Without Borders (RSF). In the past many Maldivians have been severely tortured and custodial deaths are frequent.

Another man, 27-year-old Ali Mahir, died while in a psychiatric asylum on Guradhoo Island on 17 May. His body was buried within the grounds without his parents being informed of his death. The NSS has a custom of transferring victims of torture from detention centres in Dhoonadhoo and Maafushi to such asylums to die away from public view. Perhaps the most shocking part of the deaths is that they occur within earshot of idly snorkelling tourists, whose dollars effectively sustain the Gayoom regime.

Rebecca Cork

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 370 This column was published in the August 2004 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

Comments on Paradise lost in the Maldives

Leave your comment


  • Maximum characters allowed: 5000
  • Simple HTML allowed: bold, italic, and links

Registration is quick and easy. Plus you won’t have to re-type the blurry words to comment!
Register | Login

...And all is quiet.

Subscribe to Comments for this articleArticle Comment Feed RSS 2.0

Guidelines: Please be respectful of others when posting your reply.

Get our free fortnightly eNews


Videos from visionOntv’s globalviews channel.

Related articles

Recently in Currents

All Currents

Popular tags

All tags

This article was originally published in issue 370

New Internationalist Magazine issue 370
Issue 370

More articles from this issue

  • Let's get literal

    August 1, 2004

    A faithful, though perplexed, listener asks for holy guidance from radio show host Dr Laura Schlesinger. Illustrated, with piety, by Brick.

  • Mixing it

    August 1, 2004

    Novelists Ben Okri and Amy Tan talk to Bel Mooney about their eclectic spirituality.

  • Interview with David Hartsough

    August 1, 2004

    Few pacifists can put themselves in danger as much as David Hartsough, co-founder of the Nonviolent Peaceforce.

New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.

– Emma Thompson –

A subscription to suit you

Save money with a digital subscription. Give a gift subscription that will last all year. Or get yourself a free trial to New Internationalist. See our choice of offers.