Known as a tourist paradise, a picture postcard, a honeymoon dream – the Maldives has a hidden side. It is an oppressive Muslim regime where veiled women hide, alcohol is banned, government ministers own resorts and radical Islamic groups oppose the business of tourism and its un-Muslim activities.
President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has been president of the Republic of Maldives since 11 November 1978 and is about to be re-elected for the sixth time in 2008. The Maldivian people’s attempt to oppose Gayoom’s autocratic rule by peacefully expressing their views through public rallies and demonstrations are met by human rights abuses, torture, mass arbitrary arrests and detention sometimes leading to death. According to Amnesty International, continued detention of people without charge or trial took place in August 2004, several times in 2005 and again this year.