Underwater Protest for Maldives’ President Nasheed

Photo by: Mohamed Seeneen (Sindhi)

One hundred scuba divers plunged five metres below the Indian Ocean on Saturday, in an underwater protest against the Maldivian regime’s jailing of former president and environmental hero Mohamed Nasheed.

The divers submerged next to a coral reef in Male’ atoll, Maldives, and held banners underwater reading: “Free Nasheed Now”, “Free Climate Hero”, “Democracy In Jail.”

The autocratic regime of Abdulla Yameen imprisoned former President Nasheed — the Maldives’ first democratically-elected leader — on 13 March, to 13 years in jail on trumped up charges of ‘terrorism’.

Amnesty International described Nasheed’s trial as a “travesty of justice.” The charges related to the arrest of a corrupt judge in 2012 when Nasheed was still in office.

The protest dive, which was organised by a group of veteran Maldivian dive instructors, was reminiscent of President Nasheed’s famous underwater cabinet meeting held in 2009 to highlight the dangers rising sea levels pose to the low-lying Maldives.

Divers on Saturday also protested against the Yameen regime’s indifference towards the country’s marine ecosystem. Campaigners recently accused Yameen’s environment minister of weakening environmental safeguards in order to sell off protected areas for hotel development.

Speaking shortly after the dive, veteran diver Hussain ‘Sendi’ Rasheed said:

“We are protesting against President Nasheed’s imprisonment. For Maldivians, Nasheed is our democracy hero. And to the world, he is a hero of the environment. 
“Yameen’s regime has no respect for democracy, and no respect for our marine ecosystem.”