Filmmakers of The Island President Respond to Turmoil in the Maldives

Posted on February 8, 2012

Director Jon Shenk and producers Bonni Cohen and Richard Berge offered a response to the ongoing political crisis in the Maldives and this week’s unexpected resignation of former President Mohamed Nasheed. Their documentary The Island President will air next season on Independent Lens.



Yesterday morning we woke up to the shocking news that President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives had resigned his office under duress. According to news reports and local sources, Nasheed faced the choice of using the military to quell a violent demonstration or stepping down to avoid bloodshed. In line with his long history of peaceful activism, he chose the latter.

We have heard from eyewitnesses that Nasheed was initially being held under military arrest at the Presidential residence in Malé, the capital. We were told that before Nasheed stepped down, demonstrators loyal to former dictator, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, stood outside the President’s office shouting “Gayoom! Gayoom!” In addition to forcing his ouster, demonstrators stormed the national television station, detained journalists and replaced independent programming with that of the station run by Gayoom’s allies. It was reported to us, that last night the streets of Malé were eerily quiet with a military curfew imposed on the capital. Today, Nasheed spoke at a rally for the Maldivian Democratic Party and then led a peaceful march on the streets of the capital. 

The protesters were met by police in camouflage, with helmets, truncheons and tear gas. Many injuries are being reported. As filmmakers who spent two years off and on with President Nasheed while making The Island President, we witnessed a leader committed to transparent governance, multi-party democracy, and the struggle for human rights. This struggle includes his leadership in the fight against climate change that so threatens the Maldives and the rest of us. This is not the first time that Nasheed has suffered a political setback in his fight for justice in the Maldives. We expect this is just the next chapter. We are deeply concerned for Nasheed’s safety, we stand in solidarity with him and hope others will join us. 

Read former President Mohamed Nasheed's op-ed piece, published in Wednesday's New York Times.

Watch the trailer for The Island President below

Topics

From our blog

  1. Visualizing the Modern Digital Age

    June 12, 2019

    In the land of memes, baby photos, and selfies, social media can serve many purposes for users. Social media not only connects friends and families who are wide distances apart but also allows users to author their own stories. The Instagram grid can be an archive of personal growth, while Facebook videos can narrate lived experiences.  For many

  2. ITVS Names Keri Archer Brown Director of Content and Initiatives

    June 10, 2019

    ITVS is pleased to announce that Keri Archer Brown will join the organization as Director of Content and Initiatives. Keri Archer Brown comes to ITVS with deep production, development, and management experience as both a line producer and an executive. She has worked in both capacities at ITV America/Sirens Media as well as at Discovery Studios for

  3. When a Five Month Trek Leads to Self-Healing

    May 24, 2019

    Documenting a 5-month journey of self-healing across the country was the goal of Almost Sunrise director Michael Collins and producer Marty Syjuco. What they discovered along the way was an issue seldom talked about but that affects so many American veterans. We were fortunate to have Michael and Marty speak at our headquarters as a part of our