Citizens honor Evan Naseem in rally against torture

Maldivians honored the eighth anniversary of Evan Naseem’s death and the subsequent shootings at Maafushi Jail in a rally at the tsunami memorial today.

The events of 20 September 2003 are considered critical moments in Maldivian democracy that led to the ousting of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

About 100 people attended the rally, which featured speeches and posters of torture victims. The event will continue tomorrow at 4:00pm.

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) founding member Mohamed ‘Bounty’ Nazim described his experience of Naseem’s death, and the protests that followed in Male’.

“We went to the cemetery and saw Naseem’s body. I cannot tell you how it felt. I felt very, very sad, the support I had for [former President] Maumoon was gone when I saw Naseem. I called my friends to come join us in protest against Maumoon,” he said.

On September 20, 2003, prisoners at Maafushi jail allegedly rioted against prison personnel, demanding an explanation for fellow inmate Evan Naseem’s death. Nineteen people were injured and three inmates killed.

Naseem “died due to grievous hurt caused to him by some personnel of Maafushi Jail Security System,” a report filed by the former administration claimed.

Citizens in Male’ rioted when Naseem’s mother Maryam allowed people to see her son’s body, which bore signs of torture.

Nazim said over 5000 people participated in the riot, and that police threw rocks and used arms against them.

Nazim informed Minivan News that today’s protest was “not an MDP event”. He said in two days he and 11 others would register the NGO “Activist Association of Maldives”, which will raise awareness about the penal system and strive to “stop the punishment of innocent people there,” Nazim said.

“We worry about Nasheed,” he said, referring to the Maldives’ current president. “Why not bring Maumoon to justice? There is proof that he ordered the shooting at Maafushi. But Maumoon is still powerful in the judiciary. I’m hoping that one day, we will have justice.”

Fliers are handed out that portray injuries done to men in prison during Gayoom's presidency

Nazim said that protests will be held every year on September 20. Previous anti-torture protests were suppressed by the police, but “Nasheed gave us the freedom to speak, and today we are here peacefully,” said Nazim.

Over 3,000 messages were sent out and MPs were invited to the event. MP Reeko Moosa, who was claims to be a victim of torture, told the crowd that Gayoom “would not be allowed to hold power again”.

“We are happy now because there is no news that torture is happening under this government,” Moosa claimed, speaking to Minivan News. “But we are still watching things very carefully. Gayoom is trying to take power again, but it will not happen. We are against torture happening in the Maldives ever again.”

Moosa did say that the current administration “could do more.”

“The government needs more investigation, and it needs to bring the torturers to court,” he said.

Other speakers spoke out against Gayoom and his newly-formed Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM). One man said the public should go to Gayoom’s house and “bring him out to face the people’s justice.”

Several torture victims who spoke to Minivan News expressed strong resentment for Gayoom. One Abdulla Naseeru said his “blood is boiling” and he wanted “to reach out and beat Gayoom.”

Naseeru reported being handcuffed and beaten in the same cell as President Nasheed for six months, and said he had spent a total of two years in prison.

“I wrote a letter to Gayoom after about my beatings, and his response was that the army and prison guards cannot be investigated,” he said. Naseeru said he still hears reports of prison beatings, and fears current investigations will be stopped by members of the former administration who still hold office.

Although the rally took place during school hours, a few interested teens joined the crowd. One said he was interested in politics, while his friend said he was curious to see what was happening. Both boys said their peers are aware of the issue.

Among those who attended the rally was a former army private who said he was willing to come out against Gayoom.

Evan’s mother Maryam Naseem was also in attendance. “It is very hard to be here,” she said. But she was pleased that Male was paying attention to the issue.

A government investigation into the events at Maafushi jail was launched by former President Gayoom, but the officers who were convicted were released before fulfilling their jail sentences. In June 2011, the case was re-opened and three former prison guards were sent back to jail.

Then-captain Adam Mohamed, who was allegedly responsible for Maafushi at the time, remains free.


11 thoughts on “Citizens honor Evan Naseem in rally against torture”

  1. Was it a coincidence that PPM headed by Maumoon, submitted registration forms today or a fatal error?

    Today marks the 8th anniversary of the beginning of the end to his regime.

    The party will fail big time!

  2. Evan was no angel nor a saint. He was simply a drug addict who was serving his sentence. His death was terrible but there are people who believe that he deserved it. MDP activists don’t give a damn of Evan nor to the sorrows of his mother. They simply made the best use of the oppotunity (evan’s death) to initiate riots on the streets against Maumoon. And so began the street violence and gang culture in this country, all sponsored and initiated by MDP activists.

  3. "Nasheed gave us the freedom to speak"? Really? Think again. The new constitution did. Nasheed does deserve the credit for working to get the rights for us. But now, the country seems to sliding backwards again and I, personally, do not think our freedom is a gift given by Nasheed, but rather is our constitutional right.

  4. @Ziyan
    Evan Naseem may not have been whatever you said he was not. Or may have been whatever you said he was. People may believe whatever they may want to believe about him. MDP activists may have been what you accuse of them to be - opportunists. None of these provide any jutification to prison authorities to torture and kill him.

  5. Maria, Hello...go back and read the old constitution, it gave us the right to form political parties. Do you know what happened the first time Nasheed and 40 other people applied to form a political part 2002?
    - Gayyoom via Attorney General Munnawaru adivsed Majlis that it cannot be allowed under that constitution. All the Maumoon cronies in the Majlis voted against forming political parties. 4 members voted for. Male MP (now president) Nasheed. Faafu Atoll MP Abubakuru, Thaa
    MP, Hassan Afeef and Lh MP Ibrahim MOhamed Solih.
    - 2003 Evan Naseem was murdered.
    - 2004 August 12, 13
    - 2005 with the pressure from international community and of course MDP that was operating from Srilanka and UK, Multiparty democracy was allowed. and guess what under the same constitution that did not allow party system in 2002.

    You can say that till you die. But the truth is Nasheed was the catalyst behind giving us the freedom to express that we enjoy now.

  6. The question of bringing Gay-Yoom to justice is difficult. Our judiciary is corrupted to extremes. We find lot of people who are loyal to Gay-Yoom in our judicial system and in civil service commission.

  7. @ Ziyan. You sounds just like that scabied rat Nasreena. When she heard Evan had been beaten to death she allegedly said: 'oh Evan was no saint.' Gayoom is not saint either - should we beat him to death???

  8. its ironic that we are honoring serial bully who had himself tortured and abused the lives of a number of people during his lifetime and giving him a celebrity status.

  9. "serial bully who had himself tortured"

    Poor choice of words. No human would willingly subject himself to death by torture.

    I do not even know the names of the 3 others who were killed.

    Having said that, I don't think Evan Naseem died as a martyr for a cause - he was abused to death. A tragic death, but not a heroic one that suits the term 'honour'.

  10. @hmmm agreed. not defending Maumoon. but also not going to make Nasheed into a man without faults. He fought for the country along with some others, but what is going on in the Maldives now isn't the change I voted for. I do not see the values the party promised to bring in. Regardless of our president, we now have more constitutional rights than ever before.


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