23 January 2012. After three decades of one-man rule, many Maldivians hoped President Mohamed Nasheed, who was elected in the Maldives’ first free elections four years ago, would steer the tiny island nation in the Indian Ocean towards democracy. President Nasheed was a pro-democracy activist before being elected to office in 2008.
The government has accused Mohamed of corruption and political bias. Opposition parties, meanwhile, have joined forces to rally against the government, whom they accuse of foiling the constitution by arbitrarily arresting Mohamed.
And every evening for the past week, hundreds of protesters have hit the streets of the capital, Male, demanding the release of Criminal Court Chief Justice Abdulla Mohamed, who was arrested after he freed a government critic who had been detained without a warrant. The Maldives Supreme Court and prosecutor general have also called for the judge’s release. The case is dividing the country’s leaders – the Maldives’ vice president Mohammed Waheed Hassan wrote in his blog Saturday that he was “ashamed and totally devastated” by the government’s actions.
“The moment we deny this freedom from one person, we deny that freedom for all.”