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MAY 2015


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As the lowest country on earth—sit-

ting an average of 4 feet, 11 inches above

sea level—the Maldives could be the first

country rendered entirely uninhabit-

able due to the effects of climate change,

writes Jake Flanigan for Quartz . Lying close to critical trading routes in the Indian Ocean, the archipelago ha


had a close relationship with India his-

torically. In recent years China has been a

growing presence. With a strong inter-

est in gaining a foothold in the Indian

Ocean, the Maldives is an obvious target

for Beijing to court. But recent develop-

ments have given Beijing pause, and

planned major projects are now on hold.

Reports that an estimated 200 Maldiv- ians—out of a population of 359,000—

have joined the Islamic State group in

Iraq and Syria raise concern as to the

penetration of Islamic fundamentalism

in the country.

Nasheed was ousted in 2012 in what

appears to have been a coup. In 2013, a

new election marked by irregularities put

power back into the hands of the Gay-

oom family: former president Gayoom’s

half-brother Abdulla Yameen was elected

president. The regime has gone after

other potential political rivals in recent


Supporters protesting the Nasheed

verdict have been attacked while police

stand by. Three journalists covering the

story in Maldives were arrested in Malé

on March 25 and held without charge.

Nasheed’s supporters are concerned

about his safety and hope international

attention might save him.

Nasheed’s legal team was joined in April by well-known human rights law


Amal Clooney, founder of Freedom Now

Jared Genser and former U.N. Special

Rapporteur on Counterterrorism and

Human Rights Ben Emmerson.


—Shawn Dorman, Editor