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. Who Gets To Tell These Stories Matter

    March 8, 2019

    Orthodox Jewish culture, paramedics, and humor round out director Paula Eiselt's intimate portrait of a group of women in Brooklyn who pushed back against their establishment.  Paula was able to draw upon her cultural connection to the women who form the Ezras Nahim collective and build the trust needed to tell their story.  With grace and patience,

  2. That's A Wrap, ITVS Independents Summit Winter 2019

    February 28, 2019

    What could be more dramatic than a meeting of fresh, creative minds coming together to discuss the future of independent films? The ITVS Independents Summit is a gathering of filmmakers, ITVS staff, and partners to exchange views on the best approach to bring more diverse content to public media.  For one week, we opened our doors and welcomed an

  3. Risk Takers, Welcome to Your Summit

    February 1, 2019

    You have an exceptional story to tell and deserve the best partner to help set the stage for engaging communities via public media. We are here to support your vision and reach that pinnacle. The ITVS Independents Summit will elevate our shared values and be the place for you, ITVS staff, and industry partners to plant a flag and stake a claim for excellence in