I spent Friday evening in the company of students from Frome Community College and Mohammed Nasheed. A surprising mix especially given he is in the UK for only a short while courtesy of the Maldivian government and will return to prison to serve the remains of a 13 year sentence for terrorism.
The students made a series of presentations on human rights; gender equality; democracy and climate change – following research on the Maldives. With support from Bath University students, they’d put together a mass of information and views which were refreshing in their frank analysis of the poverty of democracy not just in the Maldives but the UK; and in the perversity of Cherie Blaire being funded by an impoverished government to support their case against Mohammed Nasheed.
The Ex President (winner of innumerable major awards including UN Champion of the Earth (and slighly weirdly one of David Cameron’s top five people for his stag weekend)) took us through some of the human rights abuses he’s been subjected to. In a gloriously simple way he showed how conviction and sticking to ideals and principles places him in a totally different league from most current politicians.
What struck me most was the powerful clarity of the young college students (mostly women)…. and the poignant gap between their engagement in politics now and the lack of engagement and interest most people retain in later life. The college’s hope – and mine – is that the simple and very moving principles espoused by Nasheed will stay with at least some of the students and audience, encouraging them to join the dots between the lifestyles we lead and the impact this has on others.