Paradise lost? The Maldives: a conversation with Jennifer Latheef

3 October 2006

By Alexis Hood

This week, I interviewed Jennifer Latheef, a Maldivian photojournalist and human rights activist.

In 2003, the government arrested Jennifer for protesting about deaths in police custody, and have persecuted her ever since. In October 2005, the authorities sentenced her to 10 years in prison on trumped-up charges of ‘terrorism.’ They accused her of throwing a stone at a policeman, which she denies. Her true crime was to join mass demonstrations against a corrupt and brutal regime.

Jennifer is the daughter of Mohamed Latheef, a prominent critic of the government, and a founder of the MDP (Maldivian Democratic Party); she believes the Maldivian regime is targeting her in an attempt to silence her father. Jennifer’s cause was taken up by Amnesty International, who proclaimed her a Prisoner of Conscience, and brought pressure to bear on the Maldivian government. An international outcry about the case led to her release.

President Gayoom’s Ministry of Tourism woos visitors to the Maldives with promises of ‘the last paradise on earth,’ but Jennifer told me that torture chambers overshadow the holiday resorts, and that political repression is endemic. You can read the interview in its entirety here.

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