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Shahindha Ismail, Maldivian human rights activist, new fellow of the City of Hamburg in 2019 with the support of

The Hamburg Foundation for Politically Persecuted People, with the support of temporary relocation programme, has granted Maldivian human rights defenders Shahindha Ismail a one-year fellowship in the metropolitan city at the river Elbe. During this time, the South-Asian activist wants to meet and network with German and European representatives in politics and civil society. At public appearances, she also wants to educate her audience on her home country’s state of affairs.

Since its launch,'s temporary relocation programme for human rights defenders at risk has supported more than 330 relocation initiatives, benefiting at least 475 individuals worldwide.

Click to learn more about Shahindha Ismail.

14 years ago, Shahindha Ismail (40) founded the “Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN)“. This non-governmental organization opposes religious fundamentalism and fights for the restoration of basic democratic values and human rights. It is also committed to protecting the interests of political prisoners, ultimately fighting for their release. Due to her efforts against religious fanatics, Shahindha Ismail has become a target of radical Islamist groups. Via Facebook and Twitter, she has been receiving threats on a regular basis. Investigations into the MDN founder’s alleged infringement of the Blasphemy law also continue. In the so-called holiday paradise, the proposed sentence level for such a “crime“ ranges between five years in prison and a death penalty.

In Europe, the Maldives is a popular dream holiday destination. Little is known about the political and social issues the island state at the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent has been facing for years. This primarily includes the effects of climate change as well as the proliferation of Islamist extremism. Although the chances for democratic reforms have slightly improved after the election of a new president and the recent forming of a new parliament, the life of human rights activist Shahindha Ismail is still in grave danger.