Hassan Evan Naseem’s death at Maafushi jail on the night of September 19, 2003 was a watershed moment in Maldivian social and political history. Coinciding with the then-growing movement for democratic reform, Naseem’s death-by-torture and the subsequent jail shooting exposed Maldivian prisons as unregulated centers of abuse. While Maldivians had long suspected malpractice in the penal system, the dramatic and grave nature of these events prompted the public to break its silence and launch one of the largest protests against then-president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and his administration to date.
Evan Naseem was incarcerated at Maafushi on a drug use conviction at age 16 in July 2001. He was beaten to death by prison guards 2 years and 2 months later.
News of Naseem’s death tipped the scale for Maafushi inmates as well as Male’ residents. On the morning of September 20, inmates broke out of their cells to demand an explanation for Naseem’s death. Maafushi prison guards subsequently opened fire on the group, killing inmates Abdulla ‘Clinton’ Ameen, Ahmed Shiyam and Ali Aslam and injuring 17 others.
The bodies of the dead inmates were transferred to a Male’ hospital that day. Upon receiving her son Evan's body Mariyam Manike pulled the shroud off of her son’s bruised body and asked the crowd to witness his abuse. As reports of the brutality spread through Male’ people took to the streets, damaging public buildings and demanding justice.
In these interviews, individuals who were with Naseem at Maafushi; who knew Abdulla ‘Clinton’ Ameen; or who observed the Maafushi shooting describe the events of September 19 and 20, 2003.