Three weeks ago, the first democratically elected president of the island nation of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, was ousted in a coup that brought back to power supporters of the past regime.
One of the TED’s curators, Bruno Giussani, had been in discussion with Nasheed and his entourage about a possible talk on climate change and the vital challenge that rising sea levels represent for the Maldives. Indeed, the group of islands in the Indian Ocean are the lowest country on Earth, with the highest point at just 2.4 meters (7 feet and a half) above sea level, and Nasheed has been a very active and vocal proponent of serious measures. At the end of March “The Island President“, a film about Nasheed and his environmental fight will open in American theatres and, later, in other countries. It was finished before the coup, and it’s a must-see for anyone interested in climate change, but also in the situation of small countries and in the way the global decision-making process functions.
When Nasheed was forced to resign, the discussion between TED and his team remained open, but another theme became more urgent: what Nasheed, in an op-ed article a few days ago in the New York Times, called the “dregs of dictatorship”. On that topic, yesterday, in a makeshift “studio” in the Maldives, Nasheed recorded a short talk that was shown this morning at TED in Long Beach. It’s a powerful and important cautionary tale for many countries that are transitioning to democracy. In his words: “I believe that the events in the Maldives represent a warning for other Muslim nations undergoing democratic reform: dictators can be removed in a day, but it can take years to stamp out the lingering remnants of their authoritarian rule.”
Here is Nasheed’s recorded talk: