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Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of “Island President” Nasheed

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

The campaign to free Mohamed Nasheed–the climate change activist, former president of the Maldives, and central figure in Jon Shenk’s acclaimed documentary “The Island President”–is heating up. Concerned that Nasheed will soon be convicted and sentenced for trumped up charges of terrorism by his political rivals, several prominent documentary filmmakers and activists, including Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Oscar-winning filmmaker Louie Psihoyos (“The Cove”), and actor Fisher Stevens, are fighting to get the word out about his fate. 

Earlier today, Impact Partners’ head and “The Island President” executive producer Dan Cogan spoke to HuffPo Live, calling the proceedings against Nasheed “a kangaroo court set up to convict him, and it should be very concerning for anyone who believes in the rule of law and democratic government.”

The group has signed an Open Letter in support of former President Nasheed, which is included below, along with its signatories.

Indiewire readers are encouraged to give their support by signing in the Comments section of this post. Readers can also sign a petition on Change.org, which is currently running a thousand signatories short of its 5,000 number goal.

Open Letter in Support of President Nasheed

The undersigned call on the international community, including the U.S., the UK, the EU, India and the Commonwealth, to use all resources at its disposal to pressure the government of the Maldives to free President Mohamed Nasheed and desist in all human rights abuses against him immediately.
Pro-Democracy and Climate hero Mohamed Nasheed, the first-ever democratically elected President of the Maldives, has been arrested and detained in jail without legal representation by the authoritarian regime of Yameen Gayoom. Yameen is the half brother of Maumoon Gayoom, a dictator who ruled the Maldives with an iron fist for 30 years. This arrest is part of a broad sweep to wipe out all political opposition in the country. If sentenced, President Nasheed faces 10-15 years in prison. We cannot allow it to happen.
President Nasheed was forced from office in 2012 in a coup d’etat, yet has remained a vital voice in the pro-democracy and climate justice movements. On February 22 this year, he was violently arrested and jailed in his home country on politically motivated charges. President Nasheed’s arrest comes in the wake of a collapse of Yameen’s coalition government, and amidst calls for by Yameen’s resignation by the country’s two largest opposition political parties and hundreds of thousands of ordinary Maldivian citizens.
President Nasheed was injured while he was physically dragged into the courtroom by police on February 23. He has been repeatedly denied both legal representation and medical attention.
The U.S., the United Nations, the European Union, India, Canada and the Commonwealth have all denounced the arrest and treatment of President Nasheed. But we need to keep the pressure up until he is freed from prison.

Formerly an Amnesty International “Prisoner of Conscience” who was jailed for more than six years for writing articles critical of the government as a journalist, President Nasheed defeated Maumoon Gayoom in the Maldives’ first-ever free and fair election in 2008. Known worldwide as the “Mandela of the Maldives,” Nasheed also became an international hero of the climate change movement for setting a goal of making his nation carbon neutral by 2020, and by dramatically improving the climate talks at the 2009 UN Copenhagen Conference. He received the prestigious James Lawson Award for Non-Violent Conflict Resolution, as well as the Sylvia Earl Blue Mission Award for climate advocacy. Nasheed is the subject of the acclaimed documentary “The Island President.” In 2009, he was named a TIME “hero of the environment” and in 2012, was included in NEWSWEEK’s “World’s 10 Best Leaders.

The United Nations, European Union and the Commonwealth have all expressed concern over the lack of independence of the Maldivian judiciary. It is this very judiciary, composed of hand picked justices of the Gayoom dynasty, that will decide whether Nasheed will be sentenced on these politically motivated charges. President Nasheed’s arrest has led to thousands of supporters taking to the streets in protest.
We firmly believe that international pressure on the regime can help to end the illegal and politically motivated trial against President Nasheed.


1. Bill McKibben, Author, Environmentalist and Co-Founder of 350.org

2. Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

3. Jose Ramos-Horta, Former President of Timor-Leste and Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize

4. Kierán Suckling, Executive Director, Center for Biological Diversity

5. Michael Gerrard, Director, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School

6. Erich Pica, President, Friends of the Earth

7. Wm. Carroll Muffett, President, Center for International Environmental Law

8. Lindsey Allen, Executive Director, Rainforest Action Network

9. Eban Goodstein, Director, Center for Environmental Policy, Bard College

10. Dan Becker, Director, Safe Climate Campaign

11. Kathleen Rogers, President, Earth Day Network

12. David Hunter, Professor of Law, Director, International Law Program, American University, Washington College of Law

13. Tom Athanasiou, Executive Director, EcoEquity, USA

14. Thomas G. Kelly, Executive Director, KyotoUSA, Berkeley, CA

15. Bill Snape, General Counsel, Endangered Species Coalition

16. Ted Glick, National Campaign Coordinator, Chesapeake Climate Action Network

17. Jean Oelwang, CEO Virgin Unite

18. Debbie Kinder, Founder and CEO of the Blue Ocean Film Festival

19. Jon Shenk, Director of “The Island President”

20. Peter Goldwyn, Samuel Goldwyn Films

21. Louie Psihoyos, Executive Director, Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS). Director, “The Cove” & “Racing Extinction”

22. Fisher Stevens, Actor, Producer & Writer

23. Robert Stone, Oscar®-nominated documentary filmmaker

24. Dan Cogan, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Impact Partners, Co-Executive Producer of “The Island President”

25. Geralyn Dreyfous, Co-Founder, Impact Partners

26. Seymour Wishman, President of First Run Features

27. Marc Mauceri, Vice President of First Run Features

28. Jenny Raskin, Impact Partners

29. Richard Berge, Producer of “The Island President”

30. Bonni Cohen, Producer of “The Island President”

31. Terry Tempest Williams, Writer

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