K. Male' | Aishath Shaany | 21-February-2017 | Tuesday 16:39 | Shaaknee | Local | 1,707
Exiled former President Mohamed Nasheed has said that he will return to the Maldives “even if it means going back to jail.”
The former President made the comment at the opening of the 9th Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, on Monday. He was joined by other known advocates of human rights and democracy; including Russian human rights defender Zhanna Nemtsova, who is the daughter of assassinated Russian opposition political Boris Nemtsova; Daughter of jailed Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, Antonietta Ledezma; and Biram Dah Abeid, Advocate for the abolition of slavery in Mauritius. It was announced in December 2016, that Nasheed will headline at the Summit, which is to be held on Tuesday.
“I intend to go back, and I intend to…even if it means going back to jail. I intend to do that,” reassured President Nasheed, who has on multiple occasions claimed that he will return to the Maldives, despite his 13-year jail sentence on terror charges. Most recently, he made the statement while speaking to Maldivians in Sri Lanka, during his two-week visit to Sri Lanka in February.
Arrested, imprisoned and tortured a number of times during former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s authoritarian rule for his work as a political journalist and personality, Nasheed is well-known for his advocacy of human rights and democratic governance and has been deemed as the "Mandela of Maldives'. He earned the title of Amnesty International’s prisoner of conscience in 1991 and went on to become the country’s first democratically elected President in 2008. He was arrested and sentenced to 13 years in jail in 2015, after a a trial that lasted just 19 days.
At the opening of the Geneva Summit, Nasheed said that he would not “suggest or advice” anyone to follow his footsteps, adding that it was very “painful.”
Noting that a number of world leaders are “thugs, thieves and murderers,” former President Nasheed called to work together “to subvert” such regimes.
“I would call upon everyone here to today to work together to subvert the regimes in so many of these countries. Let’s bring down these governments. We can build economic, social and political structure to subvert and destabilize these regimes,” said Nasheed, a strong vocal critic of incumbent President Abdulla Yameen.
Nasheed also recalled details of the 2013 presidential elections, and said that those in control “had as many elections until (he) was beaten.”
The former President arrived in Geneva, Switzerland on Sunday, to take part in the Summit.
Held on the eve of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s main session, the annual summit gathers hundreds of human rights victims, activists, diplomats, journalists and student leaders who seek to “shine a spotlight on urgent human rights situations that require global attention.”
“Human rights heroes, activists and former political prisoners from China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Venezuela and other countries testify about their personal struggles for human rights, democracy and freedom, and join hands to plan action strategies,” the summit’s website added.
The former President is to receive the 2017 Geneva Summit Courage Award on Tuesday.
The inspiring Mohamed Nasheed—the human rights icon & statesman of the Maldives—will receive our 2017 Geneva Summit Courage Award tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/VWRnaMHMvY— The Geneva Summit (@GenevaSummit) February 20, 2017
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