Amnesty declares imprisoned blogger a prisoner of conscience

Amnesty International has declared imprisoned blogger Ismail ‘Khilath’ Rasheed a prisoner of conscience, and called for his “immediate and unconditional” release.

The controversial blogger was arrested on December 14 following his participation in a ‘silent protest’ on Human Rights Day, calling for religious tolerance in the Maldives.

A group of men attacked the protesters with stones, and Rasheed was taken to Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) with a fractured skull. He was subsequently arrested for questioning over his involvement in the silent gathering, and the Criminal Court granted police a 10 day extension of detention for the investigation.

“The continued detention of Ismail ‘Khilath’ Rasheed is in breach of international treaties on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the Maldives is a state party,” Amnesty said in a statement.

“Amnesty International is dismayed that instead of defending Ismail ‘Khilath’ Rasheed, who has peacefully exercised his right to freedom of the expression, the government of Maldives has detained him. Moreover, the government has taken no action to bring to justice those who attacked the ‘silent’ demonstrators, even though there is credible photographic evidence of the attack.”

The attack on Rasheed and his subsequent detention was a “clear example of the erosion of freedom of expression in the Maldives,” Amnesty stated.

“This basic human right is not just under attack from some religious groups; it is also violated by the government of the Maldives. All people in the Maldives should be able to enjoy their right to freedom of expression without being attacked or detained by the police.”

President Mohamed Nasheed was himself declared an Amnesty prisoner of conscience in 1991, following his repeated and prolonged incarceration by the former government.

A photo of Rasheed's alleged attacker taken by the protesters

Journalist detained

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has also called for Rasheed’s immediate release.

“All he did was start a debate about the issues of religious freedom and tolerance in Maldives,” RSF stated.

“The authorities must explain the reasons for his arbitrary detention and release him at once. It is disturbing to see the government yet again yielding to pressure from the most conservative fringes of Maldivian society.”

Rasheed was one of the country’s leading free speech advocates and one of the few Maldivians bloggers to write under his own name, RSF observed.

“The Maldivian constitution bans the promotion of any religion other than Islam but guarantees freedom of assembly and expression as long as it does not contravene Islam. Rasheed professes to be an adherent of Sufism, which emphasises the inner, spiritual dimension of Islam.”


President Mohamed Nasheed’s Press Secretary, Mohamed Zuhair, told Minivan News that Hilath had been arrested under an existing regulation passed by parliament that had no bearing on the [executive] government.

“The government’s policy is to allow freedom of expression to the greatest extent possible under the Constitution,” he said.

Under new regulations published by the government in September, interpreting the 1995 Religious Unity Act passed by parliament, media is “banned from producing or publicising programs, talking about or disseminating audio that humiliates Allah or his prophets or the holy Quran or the Sunnah of the Prophet (Mohamed) or the Islamic faith.”

Violation of the Act carries a prison sentence of between 2-5 years, and the Communications Authority of Maldives (CAM) in November blocked access to Rasheed’s blog on orders from the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, on the grounds that it contained anti-Islamic material.

Rasheed was arrested amid growing religious and political tensions in the Maldives in the lead up to a ‘Defend Islam’ protest to be held on Friday, December 23.

The protest follows several incidents of religious intolerance in the past few months, including as vandalism of the ‘idolatrous’ SAARC monuments in Addu Atoll and hostility towards calls by the UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay for a moratorium and debate on the flogging of women for extramarital sex.

The December 23 protest is being organised by a coalition of religious NGOs and opposition political parties, who have attacked the government for decisions such as its diplomatic relationship with Israel.

“The government is saying that the Maldives has had an unbroken Islamic tradition for 800 years, and 90 consecutive Chief Justices who have applied Sharia Law,” Zuhair said.

“The President is asking everyone to take a stand tomorrow on the 23rd for the continuation of the Maldives’ moderate Islamic tradition,” he said.

It was “not accurate” to suggest that the government was yielding to fundamentalist fringe elements, he insisted.

“This is political. [Former President] Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and his cronies are testing their support base. The people who are funding this so-called Islamic gathering are the same people selling pork and alcohol.”


45 thoughts on “Amnesty declares imprisoned blogger a prisoner of conscience”

  1. Ooooh the irony of this happening in President Nasheed's government.

    When you breed snakes in your cabinet, this happens.

  2. Nasheeds regime should release Hilath Rasheed immediately. I seriously believe that extreme religious politics has no place in our society and measures should be taken to arrest the wahaabs who attacked him.

    God help us if the PPM and other dysfunctional groups in opposition decides to allow their hair-brained leaders to dream up further reasons to come on to the streets. We are having our sovereignty and identity and traditional way of life systematically torn from us by these people!

  3. I still don't understand why this news is appearing as headline news... don't we have more better issues to discuss about...

    what is the use of laws and regulations in this country if others dictates what we have to do...

  4. How come you force people to embrace a faith?
    I am SUFI too and no one can change that, this is for sure.

  5. Get this: There are two groups of people. 1 group attacks the other repeatedly. Second group does not retaliate. And police arrests the second group who are the victims of the attack.

    How do you expect to curb crime in the country when you imprison the victims and the guilty walk free? The government always defends this kind of unacceptable behavior by placing blame on some other government entity.

    Maldives has failed as a state, and as a people. The sooner we admit this, the sooner we can come back from it.

  6. @hassan ahmed: i guess u r correct... but still i think minivan news should know what they need to put as headline news...

  7. This is hardly news.

    Amnesty has overplayed its hand this time around. Hillath hardly has any conscience at all.

    Lack of knowledge about the internal politics of a country renders international institutions helpless in the face of impending criticism from all camps.

    Hillath is an extremist and a militant in every single way. He can be compared to extreme elements at the fringe of civil rights movements across the world such as the Black Panthers. By supporting him through misread reports Amnesty has attempted to glorify an Aleister Crowley thinking he is some sort of Aung San Su Kyii I'm sorry Amnesty, the boy is a deviant and a borderline sociopath. He has about as much supporters as a leper at a pool party.

  8. This is madness! Jewish organizations such as Amnesty International have no say in what happens in the Maldives. Jews like Hilath shall be locked up as long as him and his fellow Jews try to deviate the righteous path of other Maldivians.

    I also believe Ismael Jedson (the mujahid who threw stones at the Jew, Hilath Rasheed), was only imitating what Prophet Abraham (PBUH) did with Shaitaan! Yes, he threw rocks at the disgusting Shaitaan, who spreads Jewish thoughts.

    I also request Maldivian Jews who demand the Jewish ideology of Freedom of Religion to be flogged and imprisoned for life.

    Imran Abdullah
    Adhaalath Party,
    Male', Maldives

  9. of course they haven't taken any action against the group of people that attacked the protesters. gangsters are very friendly with leaders in both sides of the political spectrum. they've even managed to release many of them after being convicted and put in jail.

  10. @ Sheikh Imran Abdullah: Amnesty International does not necessarily have to issue press released according to what pleases you. If you don't like it, just be it. You are not GOD or a MESSENGER to decide on whats good and bad for the Muslims. Who are you to speak on behalf of all Muslims. You are just an ordinary person like all other Maldivian Muslims. Why do you feel that you are superior over everyone? Have you considered even for a moment that you could be wrong, and that you are ruining the lives of a lot of Muslims for nothing but for personal gains?

    Amnesty International would not have the courage to issue that press release without the will of Allah (S.W.T). Allah (S.W.T) is the GREATEST!

    Think real hard about your present, future and afterlife. May Allah (S.W.T) guide you to the right path. Allah Akbar!

  11. so, now it turns that you are the almighty sheikh imran abdullah of the glorious adhaalath party. so far from what i have seen of you, you are nothing but a religious lunatic who most probably grew up in a slum in islamabad where humans are treated like chickens or goats... the country that until recently belonged to all maldivians is clearly now in the hands of genghis khans like you. it is sad, but we are obviously helpless. you are very successful in breaking down this peaceful country of ours.....damn you.

  12. Dear Mr. President,

    Amnesty International's decision would surely hurt you the most.

    You'd know what I refer to.

    Yours truly,
    Just one of the citizens laughing at you.

  13. @ readers..

    Whoever is commenting in the name of Sheikh Imran is an impostor. i know sheikh very well and i know he has no interest in minivan.

  14. @ Please: Allah (S.W.T) will fail the plans of those who are planning on creating chaos and misconceptions. Are you going to continue laughing a little more when your whole life goes up in smoke? I don't think so.

    I pray Allah (S.W.T) to show you and you misguided friends the right path! Allah (S.W.T) is the most merciful and the most beneficent. Allah Akbar!

  15. FYI
    The comment "Sheikh Imran Abdullah on Thu, 22nd Dec 2011 2:28 PM" is not from me.

  16. Who are Amnesty International to call to allow what is prohibited by our constitution - crazy guys

  17. @ Maldivian Muslim Youth:

    My comment has to do with the fact that everything Hilath does is endorsed by MDP. They want religious freedom so that their non Muslim and non religious partays can have a happy life--some with their same gender partners. Once the religion bit is removed from the constitution, anyone wanting to do so can be with their same gender lovers and state that as they're not adhering to Islam, they can do so.

    However, they didn't think that Amnesty International will declare Hilath a prisoner of conscience--which would be the highest insult the President can ever get from actions of Maldivians. I'm laughing for that reason.

    I'm beguiled by your innocence.

  18. Freedom of expression, unfortunately, is a qualified, not an absolute, right under the Maldives Constitution which states, "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought and the freedom to communicate opinions and expression in a manner that is not contrary to any tenet of Islam". No one within the jurisdiction of this Constitutiion could speak in favour of freedom of religion for it is not recognised in Islam.

    Thus, contrary to what the Constitution states, freedom of expression is not a right of 'everyone' but of some who have nothing to speak about Islam though it is not all about goodness.

    By the way what is the significance of the Amnesty's declaration that Hilath is a prisoner of conscience? His unconditional release is demanded and probably it has been communicated to the government holding him prisoner while the Maldives is a party to the treaties and covenents against such imprisonment. Does this mean compliance by the offending party? If not, then what?

  19. Dear Mr. President likes to be the only Maldivian to be declared a prisoner of conscience. Childish and moronic, I know.

  20. Oh, the little git is now a prisoner of conscience? What a surprise (not)? What did I tell you, when this joker first appeared on the news? I said, this was an orchestrated attempt by certain "parties" to make as big a deal out of "freedom" of religion.

    Hilath and his sponsors must be full of glee now since this is exactly what they were planning to happen. Amnesty has been conned this time around. Be prepared for more such publicity in the days and months ahead. These people have powerful friends around the world.

    On another note, Barack Obama has said that American foreign aid will not flow in the future into gay "unfriendly" countries. Guess how gay friendly the Maldives is? Hmm..., I thought so.

  21. since, by by its own admit islam did not decend upon maldivians, we must have been of a different faith in the past. we are all converts. we know we were buddhists before. in theory, therefore, it is still possible for maldives to convert back to buddhism or any other faith. given the choice i will become a buddhist myself. at least then, i will not have to kill people to be a good person.

  22. Murugesh! Have you become a Jew? A heretic? A deviant? A Jew? An Infidel? A Jew?

    Apparently, you do not know me enough! So silence! The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia would have had your head separated from that now Jewish body of yours for spreading such fitnah! I stand by what I said!

  23. Hilath should be set free immediately. President should know that Maldives should face consequences because of this unjust prosecution of Hilath.

  24. Hilath is not a prisoner of conscience. He is a drug addict. Does Amnesty International call for the release of all addicts, dealers and traffickers of drugs as well?

  25. @ Mohamed: In Islam killing is one of the worst sin. A sin worse than sexual conduct. There are verses in Quran which forbids it. No one can take the life of anyone except Allah (S.W.T).

    Why would u want to become a budhist anyway? You think Islam is not good enough? You shouldnt think that way. Everything has to with Islam and Allah (S.W.T). Please dont blame the actions of very few Muslim extremists over billions of people practicing Islam around the globe.

  26. "hilath got a skull fructure". what skull fructure? as some one who know this incident, i can assure that there is no fracture. he only got some lacerations to his scalp and its nothing serious. reporting hilath got a skull fracture to amnesty shows how much lies these secularists are telling to foreign organisations..

  27. "...we must have been of a different faith in the past. we are all converts. we know we were buddhists before..." What the heck is this? Are you on dope or something? do you realize that you are omitting centuries in the context and yet we are the same we? huh?

    and who said to kill whom? why am i reading all these violent ideas and harsh words like kill, amputate, behead from those who by their own admission left islam or are about to leave islam? when has any such religioius based killing happened in maldives in recent memory? Don't say we were buddhists a thousand years back and bla bla.. the white americans exterminated the natives of america also.. a few centuries ago..

  28. to you, anyone who speaks the truth is on dope. that is the problem with you fanatics. it is so hard for you accept the truth when faced with it. centuries or millenia apart a fact remains a fact. you can't change that. religions come and go and you can't do a thing about. look around you. its not so hard to see the proof.

  29. @ Mohamed: What exactly you want me to say? Should i say 'IT IS GOING TO BE GREAT IF YOU BECOME A BUDDIST?' Well, i don't care about your beliefs. There's nothing me or anyone can do about it. It's the will of the god.

    May Allah (S.W.T) show you the true path.

  30. One of today's big news is that French has passed a law criminalising denial of Armenian "genocide". So it is illegal to deny Armenian "genocide" in France BUT (and here is the bit Maldivians don't get) that it is NOT a crime to try to change this law if you did not agree with it.

    Laws should be obeyed if they are in place, whether you like it or not. But the ability and effort to change a law is never a crime in civilised countries. If there is no popular support then the law won't change in a democracy anyway regardless of the voices of a few.

  31. Sheikh Imran Abdullah - though my nostrils are rife with the stench of your mockery, you speak of admirable goals! Mayhap what good is left in you expresses wisdom from your mouth, though you know it not!

    Thus I pray that Allah (swt) guide you into the correct path, and that all deviants and heretics that toil and burden greatly upon this earth for their Jewish masters, be garroted on the spot!

    (That would include, unfortunately, the heretic Mufti of Saudi Arabia)

    For such was the conduct of the great Ayatu'llah Khomeini, may his name ever be praised!


  33. @Sheikh Imaran,

    What are you??? so much hatred for other religion. Shame on you, if he dont understand what is right and wrong its your duty to convince him what is right and wrong if you cant then believe me you are wrong and he is right. moreover you are self made Sheikh

  34. @musician
    Whoever is commenting in the name of Sheikh Imran is an impostor! Sheikh is not interested in these cheap debates with islamophobes. i know sheikh well..

  35. currently studying astronomy ! and in my opinions we are nothing but life on a planet who just evolved from animals and got intelligent; which made us believe that there is a creator due to lack of science and technology in those days !! and mature enough people are certain that humans invented religion just to control a handful of people. killing other life on here "in the name of god"

    Its 2012 soon and day by day we are finding more evidence that actually life is not only in this planet !! and the universe didnt needed a creator to create .. the big bang created the universe with billions of galaxies and billions of stars in each galaxy !! our own milkyway has more than 200 billion stars as we know now which might have how many planets? should i say god knows ?? !!

    so if god forgot to mention that in those billions and billions there is no life.. something must be f**** up !! and if we are just saying there is no other life than us, then why all that empty space out there ??? do the match may be!

    by the way i am Maldivian !!

  36. hey no sense
    which god said there is no life in your 200 billion stared galaxies? huh? just because you are studying astronomy doesn't mean you know more about religion than me! I have studied all that you are currently grappling with quite early and am finishing up my authoritative review on religion. what i found up to now is that we do not read religious texts properly and we are too judgmental when it comes to religion. for your kind info Quruan does not say there is no life except in earth. Quruan says God only knows the count of his creation. which includes your zillions of stars and blackholes and bla bla. got? if this much is thick enough for your head then i suggest looking at APOD picture archives and ponder a little bit. Don't assume you know everything pal. you are just a small fry.. like me, the moyameeha

  37. Moyameeha!

    First, one who claims who knows every thing is wrong from the very beginning. (and that includes even god himself) my cousin is a god you know! and he told me a lot. disapprove that!!!! and im a doctor in islamic philosophy. i did my phd both at azhar and at the oxford university. ‘no sense’ is talking about life on other planets. tell me where in ur guran it says humans exist on other planets? human does not mean ahmmadha and muhamma. but beings unlike jinnis who have sex, eat, and breath like us. ‘no sense’ is talking just that. ur snail brain can’t understand that either. what he is saying is that there is a possibility that life forms like that can exist elsewhere in the universe. quran only talks about jinnis, something very different, that is made of fire, u moron!!! tell me why ur prophet did not use a jumbo jet to fly to the heavens during israa and miuraaj. coz he did not have a clue that humans could ever achieve that. at least da vinci could imagine that. so, who is greater? da vinci or mohamed? best he could imagine was wings on a farting arab horse. he drove camals most of the time so, a horse with wings was the limo god provided. what an ugly ride! tell me one thing! you say you can’t imagine god, ‘Allah’. can you imagine the largest number. you tell me the largest number and i will tell you the number greater than that. will there be an end? can u imagine that. of course not!!! because you can’t. and its the same with a lot of things that we experience! and because we don’t know does not mean we know also!!

  38. quran only talks about jini, a being made of fire. we are talking about life forms, life as we know it. quran does not talk about this kind of life. it does not know about it. if it knows it would have talked about it. for example, when it talks bout beheading someone's head it is very specific. why can't it say about life on other planets in straight words. on the one hand it knows a lot while on the other hand it likes to confuse us..

  39. @ mohamed
    Is there any need to debate with a dim with like you? I do not mean to offend you but since you have already called me a moron, i just felt like calling you a dim wit. OK?
    your rant about a greater number plus one give you away.. you are probably just another o level failure trying on-line debate with Muslims. As for me, just visit my blog and see for yourself my views.
    I have only one piece of advice for you. Just broaden your horizon before discounting god. Even die-hard kaafirs like me do not discount god cos you are dealing with metaphysics here, not reality.

  40. so moyameehaa,

    its good to see that you have been really offended! and its dimwit by the way, so who is the o'level dropout here my friend. and to that, moyameehaa, you are up against a man who is highly educated too. you need to kick that habit of underestimating others just because you run an internet website. and don't ever get personal in a debate like this. because then you loose focus right?

  41. "Deus ex machina" Latin translation is "god out of the machine". to my understanding this concept is used in literature to solve inextricable problems by creating a concept (it need not be something man can conceive as long as it fills the holes) that would solve the issue.


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