Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed Is an Eco-Rock Star, Brings Down the House in Copenhagen
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Tonight at Klimaforum President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives elevated himself to eco-rock star status. True to that moniker Nasheed arrived fashionable late -- 350.org's Bill McKibben having to speak for a bit longer than I think he intended -- and then proceeded to lay everything out in no uncertain terms.
"History shows us the power of peaceful protest," Nasheed said. "From the civil rights movement, to Gandhi's Quit India campaign; non-violent protest can create change. Protest worked in the struggle for democracy in the Maldives." Nasheed is the first democratically elected leader of the Maldives.
He continued, "My message to you is to continue the protests. Continue after Copenhagen. Continue despite the odds. And eventually, together, we will reach that crucial number: Three - five - oh." Here's the full text of his moving speech:
Full text of Mohamed Nasheed's speech as given at Klimaforum, 14 Dec. 2009
Mr McKibben, fellow environmentalists, ladies and gentlemen,
Four years ago myself, and many fellow activists, sat in solitary confinement in Maldivian prison cells. We sat in those jail cells not because we had committed any wrong. We sat in those cells because we had deliberately broken the unjust laws of dictatorship. We had spoken out for a cause in which we believed. That cause was freedom and democracy.
There were times, sitting in that prison, when I felt more alone than you can imagine. There were times when I started to believe the doubters, who said the Maldives would never become free. Sometimes it felt like the doubters were right. The dictatorship had the guns, bombs and tanks. We had no weapons other than the power of our words, and the moral clarity of our cause. Many democracy activists like us had vanished, forgotten by history, their struggle a failure.
But, in spite of the odds, we refused to give up hope.We refused to listen to the voices of doubt and discouragement. We refused to be swayed by those who could not see that change was on the way. And we were right to stand up for what we believed.
We won our battle for democracy in the Maldives. I stand before you today as the first democratically elected President in the history of my country.
The path to democracy in the Maldives was not straight-forward. It was bumpy and full of turns. But we were determined that no matter how difficult the terrain, we would reach the end of the road. And we succeeded in our cause.
Four years later and a continent away, we meet here to confront another seemingly impossible task. We are here to save our planet from the silent, patient and invisible enemy that is climate change.
And just as there were doubters in the Maldives, so there are doubters in Copenhagen. There are those who tell us that solving climate change is impossible. There are those who tell us taking radical action is too difficult. There are those who tell us to give up hope.
Well, I am here to tell you that we refuse to give up hope. We refuse to be quiet.We refuse to believe that a better world isn't possible.
I have three words to say to the doubters and deniers. Three words with which to win this battle. Just three words are all I need. You may already have heard them. Three - Five - Oh. Three - Five - Oh.
Three - Five - Oh, saves the coral reefs. Three - Five - Oh, keeps the Arctic frozen. Three - Five - Oh, ensures my country survives. Three - Five - Oh, makes a better world possible. [speech continues after the photos]