Amal Clooney continues to defend former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed as she urges people to find ways to help the cause

By Kathy Ehrich Dowd
October 16, 2015 11:15 AM
Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

In a new video and essay, Amal Clooney is speaking out about the political crisis in the Maldives – and urging people to take action.

Clooney, 37, is continuing to vigorously defend former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed, whom she feels has been wrongly imprisoned by a government that has a dangerous disregard for human rights and the democratic process.

“I read the judgment and all the paperwork and it became clear very quickly that we were dealing with a show trial, sham proceedings really,” she said in a new video released this week by Amnesty International. “It was clearly a politicized way to get him out of the scene and not able to run in the presidential elections in 2018.”

Clooney and her colleagues – who also wrote a letter published on The Huffington Post this week – have spent time in the Maldives this year in an attempt to defend Nasheed, the first democratically elected leader of the island nation located southwest of India and Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean.

“The more I read about him, I found him to be an inspirational figure,” she said in the video. “He was trying to bring human rights and democracy to the Maldives. And when he ran in 2008, he became the first ever democratically elected leader of the Maldives and he brought attention to the plight of his people because literally the islands were sinking because of rising sea levels.

“He’s also someone who became known as the Mandela of the Maldives because he’s a human rights activist, and before he was president he was a journalist and an opposition figure and he paid a price for that,” she continued. “He was arrested more than 20 times in his country, he was tortured in prison and subjected to solitary confinement.”

Last month, husband George Clooney, admitted on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert that was he was “very concerned” about his wife spending time in the unstable island nation – where her colleague was recently stabbed – even as he supported her work there.

“It’s a tricky place to be right now,” he said. “Her co-counsel was just stabbed in the head a few days ago. It’s a dangerous place to be right now. I’m very concerned with her being there, quite honestly.”

But Amal appeared fearless in the latest video, urging people to take action and express their concern about the situation.

“People shouldn’t feel disenfranchised,” she said. “I think there is a lot that people can do … I think people can write to their government if they feel their government is not doing enough. There can also be pressure brought to bear on the Maldivian government directly: Some people are choosing not to travel there until the human rights situation improves, and people will find their own ways to protest and try to influence things.

“There’s no need to stand on the sidelines,” she added. “There’s definitely a lot that can be done.”

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