“Cloudy side of life” protest pamphlet distributed at ITB trade show

Maldives anti-government campaigners have attempted to use this year’s ITB Berlin trade show to draw attention to allegations of police brutality and human rights abuses following the controversial transfer of power back in February 2012.

The Ministry of Tourism last year fell short of its stated aim of welcoming one million visitors to the country during 2012, citing difficulties resulting from media coverage of political turmoil following the change of government that brought President Dr Mohamed Waheed to office.

However, authorities in the country have since pledged to surpass the one million visitor goal in 2013, claiming late last year that the “hard days” were over for tourism in the country following 2012’s political turmoil.

Despite the government’s stance, as part of a so-called silent protest at this year’s ITB event, anti-government campaigners distributed leaflets entitled, ‘the cloudy side of life‘ – a play on the country’s official ‘Sunny Side of Life’ tourism slogan. The publication includes excerpts of reports from the Amnesty International NGO and select quotes from the UN high commissioner for human rights concerning alleged abuses.

“White sandy beaches, dancing palm trees and sparkling cocktails beckon the eager tourist to the Maldives: the emerald Isles in the warm blue Indian Ocean,” the leaflet reads.

“However, a few miles away from your secluded resort island, the same government, backed by the same resort-owners who wave over the honeymooners to the sunny side of life, with their other hand, imposes great injustices, brutality, and human rights abuses on us, the citizens.”

No identification of any organisation or political party in the Maldives affiliated with the leaflet is included on the publication, which accuses the current government of President Waheed of coming to power through a coup and being backed by resort owners advertising at the fair.

It concludes by requesting visitors “reconsider” a decision to visit the Maldives that will “directly fund” alleged human rights abuses and the present “illegal” government.

Last year, a Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) report welcomed by the US and the UN rejected accusations that the present government came to power illegally, despite claims from former President Nasheed that the report’s conclusions were flawed and failed to include key witness statements and evidence. These allegations were later backed by Fathimath Dhiyana Saeed, a one time SAARC Secretary General and Former Human Rights Minister under the current government who was dismissed from her post late last year.

ITB Berlin, which ran this year from March 6 until yesterday (March 10), is one of the world’s largest tourism shows and was attended by Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb, as well as a host of local tourism industry figures.

Adheeb was not responding to calls from Minivan News at the time of press,while Deputy Tourism Minister Mohamed Maleeh Jamal was not in the country when contacted.

Industry confidence

Speaking back in January this year, Tourism Minister Adheeb said he was confident the industry could meet it goals of bringing one million visitors to the Maldives in 2013,  despite falling short of this mark by 40,000 people in 2012.

“There were a lot of hiccups last year with the political turmoil that the country experienced. It is important that we do not compare ourselves to other destinations like Sri Lanka or Seychelles, as our tourism market is very different. We have a high-value tourism market,” he said at the time.  “We will formulate a strategy to go forward this year.”

Following last year’s transfer of power, the incoming government of President Waheed sought to utilise public relations groups and advertising to try and offset the perceived impact of negative news headlines following the transfer of power.

This focus included agreeing a US$250,000 (MVR 3.8million) advertising deal to promote the country’s tourism industry on the BBC through sponsorship of its weather services, as well as signing a £93,000 per month (US$150,000) contract with public relations group Ruder Finn to try and improve the country’s image internationally.

Boycott calls

Former President Mohamed Nasheed last year called for a tourism boycott of the Maldives, as he continued to question the legitimacy of the government of President Waheeed – his former vice president.

However, these calls were soon dropped by Nasheed and supporters of the now opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), which is still pressing for early elections.

Despite wider fears about the impact of political uncertainty on holidaymakers, Deputy Tourism Minister Mohamed Maleeh Jamal claimed back in September 2012 that “the hard days” were over for the Maldives tourism industry following the release of the CNI’s findings.


29 thoughts on ““Cloudy side of life” protest pamphlet distributed at ITB trade show”

  1. And why is Minivanews giving front page prominence to a non-event?

    Collaboration ?

    Birds of feather fly together.

  2. I don't like the current politicians on either side, Government or Opposition, whatever, they are all the same..

    But those who attempt to destroy our small fragile economy for political gains are the worst of em all and these people are "True enemies of the people of the Republic of Maldives"

  3. I really don't support this type of protest. This will hurt everyone in the Maldives.

  4. the hard days are over for mameel because he finally has the job he has always coveted, albeit thro a coup backed by resort tycoons

  5. Dear Neil Merrett,

    I am no fan of Waheed or Gayoom. Its ok if you hate them. But this is totally unacceptable. Why is it that you guys are so hell bent on destroying the only means of bread and butter of this small impoverished nation?

  6. Seriously, I don't care if you are MDP, PPM, or any other political party, or affiliated with anyone. If you try to discourage visitors to Maldives, you are directly an enemy of the people. You do not wish Maldivians well.

    Tourism is our lifeblood, and whatever reason you speak of gives you no right to destroy our fragile economy, and affect an industry which employs so many Maldivians while being the source of all the foreign currency to the country.

    Do not presume that all Maldivians are idiots who will listen to you and your supposed 'support of the people'.

    Any Maldivian who engages these people, and takes part in these protests at Tourism events abroad, to try and talk to people about not visiting, should really examine what they are doing themselves.

  7. This is a lie and again by Minivan. There was no such flyer distributed in the fair.

    I don't know what MInivan and Nasheed is trying to achieve by spreading false propaganda.

    There are many hoteliers and travel agents who are supporters of MDP went to ITB this year and you can ask them if they have seen any of this so called flyer ever get distributed in the fair.

    Germany is not supporting Nasheed and they are aware of the evil man.

    This pamphlet must have been made by MInivan and then may not have been able to distribute at the fair and that is why Minivanis is trying to distribute at least on thier own backyard.

    Neither Nasheed or the MDP is able to stop the tourist coming to Maldives. Only few thugs from MDP will bow thier heads to Nasheed and not every citizen of Maldives and every single person in this world consider Nasheed as a hero but majority consider Nasheed as zero instead.

  8. I think we have done enough damage ourselves when we changed the democracy into a junta. Don't blame others now. too late.

  9. Through tourism the golhas funded this coup. now we better change them so we can have a better tourist industry instead few cronies calling the shots. we can create more maldivian businessmena nd we should do it, instead gasim, universal, shiyam, seen, afeef, controlling all the resorts. we have to chase them out and give others a chance.

  10. such activites as distributing the flyer in ITB are very important for Maldivians to remain as a free national with hopeful future independent from the clothes of a tourism oligarch heavily embroiled in Maldivian politics... What Gayoom did in his 30 years of power was to cultivate and nurture a selected tourism entrepreneurs who in turn has been at his beck and call where in government or not... That is why he - Gayoom - was able to mastermind a coup while stationed in Malaysia for the most part... Gayoom's close allies the Kolige Clan with KOli Ali Maniku and MU Maniku own and earn more than 30% of tourism porertiies and revenues. Gasim, a close collaborator in bringing about the couple, was once a servant boy in Gayoom's residence.. he was personally developed so one day he can fund Gayoom nefarious activities.. which he is happily doing.. Gasim too now owns close to 10 tourism properties, an airline, an airport leased for 99 years with a licence to operate international flights.. in fact he got rid of GMR as he wanted to benefit from the opportunity.. Tourists coming to Maldives should know if they are visiting only a 'gangsters' paradise... if only so they they where their money is going.. to further encase the pockets of the dark forces that have held Maldivian people and their rights hostage.. who sustain a brutal regime out to kill anyone who disagrees with them....

  11. This certainly would not be the first time an attempt of this sort has been targeted towards the lifeblood of the Maldivian economy, directly responsible for the livelihood and wellbeing of thousands of Maldivians.

    This has been the modus operandi of certain individuals and groups based abroad. In the past, leaflets calling for a tourism boycott had been distributed in similar fairs in London and other places.



    From the past experience, I think most of us are aware of the individuals and groups behind such despicable acts.

  12. I wish they distributed this more. I saw only a few leaflets on the last day. I spoke to one of them and they were calling for ethical tourism.

    Tourism's contribution to the people of maldives is a myth. It makes the rich richer and they enslaves us.

  13. To bora bora...As I am from Germany, I can assure you that we know who the evil people are. And it's not Nasheed...Just have a look at the press release from our foreign ministry..

  14. It is a shame for the people of Maldives promoting “Cloudy side of life” protest pamphlet distributed at ITB trade show. We are Maldivians and who ever is promoting a slogan saying “Cloudy side of life” are not Maldivians nor a person who loves the Nation. Having call tourists not to come to Maldives will only not humiliate us, It will also slowly kill us. We the sons of the country are looting our own country and giving priority of demand to Srilanka and Seyshells. What are we gaining. We need to call up the culprits who are supporting this protest and terrorize their Nationality Identifty.

  15. i wonder why Safari tours name was not there. They have controlled 30% of the tourism industry in Maldives in 80s but gave those Islands to Italian for peanuts since they could not manage the wealth properly.

    Where is 3 A group who has over 8 resorts and many of them are now at default . Also over 15 millions dollars to pay as TAX. I think people should not talk about them since Ali Shiyam is married to Anni family member.

    Where is Jabir ? How many Island he had and how much money he owes to us in the form of TAX ? I guess we should not talk about him since he is not MDP member and strong supporter of Nasheed.

    Nasheed had given how many Islands to his party members in the last three years and what happened to them. Non of those Island were able to build and we the people of Maldives are not able to get tax from them and no jobs were even created.

    If tourism is damaged then its a damage for the nation and those elite had already got enough money to survive . We the average Maldivian will suffer not the those elite.

    This is why Nasheed and his allies trying to boycott the tourism and Kolige, Gaasim, Champa , Shiyam and Kenereege people have already got enough money so Nasheed can do all these boycotts and we will suffer.

  16. I do support boycott of tourism Maldives. There is no balance between what the resort owners make out of, and what the people of Maldives get out.
    They go to Singapore for medicals. The minister tells us to go to Somalia for the same. We struggle for higher education. They can pay everywhere for. We don't even have drinking water on the islands. Wait for rain, dicktator told us.
    The resort owners should pay INCOME TAX, now they do not pay a single laari on taxes themselves.

  17. I suggest Maldives to change from democracy to communism. Once Maldives is changed to communism then the country's wealth will get distributed equally among the population.

    Having seen most of the comments and many people views, i see the way forward to have the income equality is only communist principles.

    This way everyone will work and the income goes to central government and then they have to distribute them equally.

  18. Ethical tourism is the future. Tourists are informed now. You can't expect to brutalize the citizens from one hand while welcoming visitors from the other. International Tour Operators would want to secure their interests. They wouldn't want to invest on contracts to a destination whose people are repressed. Because History always tells that repressed people will react one day or another. Whether people distribute leaflets on ITB or not, they know from Guardian, BBC, NY Times etc about the brutality. Not necessarily from Minivan News.

  19. @ Michaela .. You are not from germany and you aren't fooling anyone here.

  20. Michaela on Tue,
    do you really think that you are well informed about the situation in Maldives, who is evil and who is not, after reading a statement that your foreign ministry has published? Think again… that’s right… you have no clue. PS. I read the statement.

  21. Kuribee
    Maybe be you should read more… communism dose not guarantee equality at any level… corrupt is corrupt, be it communism or democracy…

  22. Lavalee
    Its sad to see that we jump on conclusion rather quick… by the way I am not aware that Guardian, BBC, NY Times have their reporters in Maldives.

  23. @someone: I think that I am very well informed about the political situation in Maldives as I used to live in Maldives for almost 12 years.

    I am probably not as biased as most Maldivians are, as I do not belong to any political party or religion..Also I do not get my informations from my neighbors or from politically motivated TV channels like most Maldivians do.. I read and listen to informations from different sources and make up my own mind..

    I left the country recently because of the rise in religious extremism, crimes and the overall political situation. That was the best decision I ever made!!

    Politics in Maldives are a joke. Politicians change from one party to another and then back.. Corruption everywhere.. and Adhaalath trying to get new members by using slogans like: "sign for Adhaalath party to defend islam" C'mon.. give me a break here..

    @ Bitter truth: Yes I am from Germany even though I lived in Maldives!!! Why would you assume that I am not from Germany????

  24. @ Michaela

    Thank you very much for replying.
    I see that you “were” living in Maldives, not that you “are” presently there… you see there is a difference. Even though if you were living in Maldives, I doubt that you would have any information about what’s going on in Maldives. Other than some selective version of stories from you’re so called “friends” in Maldives.

    I had to laugh, honestly… look who is talking about bias… given not too distant history of yours, you are not in any position to judge anyone. So please, do yourself a favour and think before you talk… I see how you make up your “own” mind. You do not get your information from your “neighbours” but you read and listen to information from different sources and they are not politically motivated… and those information that you read and listen are “pure” like your people thought few decades ago??? Way to go my friend.

    Tell me, who are you trying to convince here, people who read your posts or yourself? That “was the best decision I ever made!!” it seems like that you regret leaving Maldives after 12 years.

    What would you say about the politics is Germany??? How pure and fair is it? Wait a minute; are you talking about Peer Steinbrück and his political goals??? And how Germany is benefiting from EU??? Where there are human, there is corruption. Question is how advance are they???. 3rd world like Maldives or 1st world like Germany! Politics is a joke in anywhere, be it Maldives or Germany or another place, it really is a joke.

  25. @someone Did you know that Maldives is not a 3rd world country anymore..it is an upper middle income country with an average income of almost 5000$ a year per person..Unfortunately the wealth is not distributed evenly and there are only a handful of extremely rich people in your country. Those business tycoons are having high posts in the government and it seems that most political decisions are just made for their personal benefit and not for the wellbeing of the whole population..

    I agree with you that you will find corruption everywhere. If a politician gets caught in Germany doing some hanky panky business, they have to pack their bags and go. Latest example was our education minister Annette Schavan, last year our Bundespräsident Christian Wulff and there are much more... they will never been seen on the political stage again... and that is the big difference between Germany and Maldives.

    When a politician in Maldives gets caught doing something illegal or being involved in corruption, he just changes the party and continues his business as usual.. Good example is Jabir, former Jumhoree party leader. After he got arrested drinking alcohol on Hodhaidoo he suddenly changed back to MDP.. A party he left before joining JP.. Don't you think that this is ridiculous?? And he is only one example out of many!!!!

    And by the way, I do not regret leaving Maldives.. actually the opposite. I mostly enjoyed living there until it became unbearable towards the end..

    Living in Maldives made me appreciate the little things in life that i enjoy here now.. especially freedom !!!! 🙂

  26. @ Michaela
    I am aware of the situation where Nasheed pushed Maldives from 3rd world list to 2nd world list… whatever personal agenda and gain he could have from this I do not know… maybe he was ashamed to be called a president of a 3rd world country, LOL…. Anyway what I know is that the Maldivian did and do not benefit from being on the 2nd world list. I totally agree with you that all the political decisions in the Maldives are made for the benefits of the political leaders, including Nasheed, not on the interest of the country.

    Michaela, I will now refer to your initial comment on Tue, 12th Mar 2013 3:22 PM
    “To bora bora…As I am from Germany, I can assure you that we know who the evil people are. And it’s not Nasheed…Just have a look at the press release from our foreign ministry..”
    It seems like that we both agree on this now, you yourself has given the example and believe me Nasheed is one of them and his interest is not to the benefit of Maldives and its countrymen. That’s all what I wanted to say.

    I understand that one will not spend 12 years of one’s life in a place if one did not enjoy the place. Do you know the beauty in this is that you and still care… though we know that we cannot change anything in Maldives, nevertheless we still care selflessly.

    Michaela I am honoured to have had this conversation with you and to discuss our individual opinion on the topic of Maldives.

    Take care and wish you all the very best.


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